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End of an era at Lotus

Production of the Lotus Elise, Exige and Evora sports cars has ended in readiness for the ramping up production of the all-new Emira – the brand’s last petrol-powered car.

Between these three model lines and over the course of 26 years, a total of 51,738 cars will have come off the production line at Hethel in Norfolk.

Combined, they represent almost half of the total production of Lotus in its 73-year history.

In addition, 9,715 sports cars were built on the assembly lines for Lotus’s third-party clients, including GM and Tesla.

From 1996 to 2000, the first-generation Elise and Exige sports cars were built in a small assembly hall at Hethel alongside the Lotus Esprit.

The current assembly lines, which were installed in 2000, will be dismantled and replaced with all-new state-of-the-art facilities in support of the all-new Emira factory.

Full Emira production begins in the spring, after the prototype and test phases currently underway are completed, taking Lotus sports car production into an exciting, high-tech and semi-automated era, and increasing capacity up to 5,000 cars per year on a single shift pattern.

The last examples of the Elise, Exige and Evora models are reserved for Lotus’ growing heritage collection.

Joining the collection will be the last Elise, a Sport 240 Final Edition finished in Yellow and the last of 35,124 cars; the last Exige, a Cup 430 Final Edition in Heritage Racing Green – number 10,497; and the last Evora – a GT430 Sport finished in Dark Metallic Grey – the last of a production run of 6,117.

The Elise and Exige sports cars are built around the Lotus ‘small car platform’. On the same platform, and also manufactured by Lotus at Hethel were the Opel Speedster / Vauxhall VX220 (7,200 cars built between 2000 and 2005) and the Tesla Roadster (2,515 cars built between 2007 and 2012).

When the Lotus 340R, Europa, 2-Eleven and 3-Eleven cars are included, this brings the total Lotus small car platform production volumes to 56,618 cars.

Next out of the Lotus stable will be the Evija electric hypercar, followed by Lotus’s first SUV, which will be revealed to the world in the spring.

About Gareth Herincx

Gareth is a versatile journalist, copywriter and digital editor who's worked across the media in newspapers, magazines, TV, teletext, radio and online. After long stints at the BBC, GMTV and ITV, he now specialises in motoring.

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