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My Owners Diary November 2000

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1st November 2000

Had a chance to look though the various brochures and options and a few things have come to light. The wacky rear diffuser on the back of the Elise is an option. The battery is now in the rear of the car, to allow air-conditioning to be fitted later in the year. The new Elise only has two clamshells, just like the out-going version. Each clamshell is made from several smaller panels but these are bonded together. From a structural point of view this makes sense but, from an accident repair point of view, it's still going to be very expensive to fix. Lotus have missed a trick here. Apart from making them cheaper to produce, there is no benefit from this approach and it has the disadvantage that the joints break up the flowing shape. My guess is that the new panels also have weaknesses at the joins or are heavier to resolve this problem. Lotus certainly haven't passed any cost reductions on to their customers.

The Elise 2000 is now an expensive car. The very lowest specification that I want (and would recommend to anyone else) is:

Standard car£22,995
Front mud flaps£40
Sill protection tape£30
Metallic paint£595
Tyre inflator£20
Driver and passenger lumbar support£30
Cat 1 alarm£295
Driving lights£200
Radio fitting kit£150
CD/Radio head unit (self-supplied)£145
Total£24,500

The required black soft-top, black cloth seats, and black, leather trim steering wheel are standard but, that's £24,500 for the basic Elise with no non-essential options. Forget the headline list price, this is the minimum specification that you really want to live with. If I then add the desirable options to my list:

Cross-drilled brakes£150
Black brake callipers£80
Body coloured mirrors£60
Adjustable passenger footrest£55
Centre console£20
Goodridge brake hoses£200
Sports exhaust£395
Rear spoiler£150
Hardtop£2000
Total£27,610

That's nearly £28k for a 120bhp car! My wife's Impreza Turbo has 218bhp and comparable features, plus air-conditioning. Now I know it's not as much fun but it was a whole £11k less and it's still quicker. As much as I want one, I'm struggling to justify that sort of money on a second car.

With Lotus making over 3000 Elises a year (6000 when VX220 production is stopped) it's going to have to be one very good car (and I mean a lot better than the old model) for demand to remain above supply levels for very long. At this price, I'm curious to know where all these new customers are coming from. Once we are over the 'I need the latest model' phase, we shall see. My dealer is now not getting a demonstrator until the 24th November.

A review of this web site appears in this months The Net MagazineRemote site (under 'what web site?', 'cars & bikes'). They gave it four stars and rated it above the official Lotus Cars siteRemote site. Must be a good magazine.

7th November 2000

I have been forced to look at alternative means to buy my next Elise. I have been investigating brokers and foreign dealers and have received some interesting quotes. Things are looking more promising.

17th November 2000

Auto Trader has a standard 1997 Elise advertised at 13,995 with only 22,000 miles on it! Now is not the time to sell a mk I Elise. Expect prices to rise slightly in 3-6 months time, but with a flood of new mk II's arriving, I reckon the second hand market prices are going to be more realistic than they were in the days of waiting lists. The projected price for the Elise mk II hardtop is now rumoured to be £1500.

Dutch VAT will be at 19% from Jan 2001. This won't make the Dutch very happy but, it should lower the prices of imported vehicles. Negotiations on pricing between Lotus and the European dealers are still underway apparently. Apparently Turbo Technics are planning a VHPD engine upgrade for next year, producing about 260bhp and a 230bhp upgrade for the standard Elise. What would that do to the power to weight ratio of the 340R then?

This site had over 40,000 page hits last month, the highest yet.

27th November 2000

Still no sign of the demonstrator cars at the dealers. Now expected to arrive first week in January. So no mk1's or mk2's coming of the production line. The must be expensive for Lotus and their dealers. No reasons given.

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