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My Owners Diary April 2001

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2nd April 2001

There is a great opportunity for someone to release a hardtop before Lotus do, ideally one that will actually store in the car and not require a fixed T-bar. The first good weekend for open top motoring in ages and my thoughts turned to Lotus ownership. Seems that the failure of one of the Lotus franchises is getting messy, with deposits going missing.

6th April 2001

There Elise S2 stage 1 performance upgrade is slowly making it to the dealers attention. Latest price puts it at 900, plus VAT and fitting. Lotus part no. LOTAC05136 includes a silencer, airbox and air filter, giving a modest power increase, improved noise quality and engine breathing.

17th April 2001

Come back from the Easter break to find some good news and some bad news in my inbox. Lotus are laying off some customer facing staff at Hethel and this includes people that I know. These include John Morgan (Lotus Life editor), Deb Marsh and Dave Minter (ride and handling team). This is sad news indeed as these were all customer focussed employees that were always friendly and enthusiastic about the brand and definately added significantly to my Lotus ownership experience. I know Lotus are in temporary financial trouble but, these people will be missed in both the short term and longer term. This must impact on customer support, the Lotus Life club and the performance driving courses at Hethel. I may not know much about the car industry but this is bad management by any definition.

The better news is that production rates of the S2 are increasing and waiting lists are shortening with lots of people having their queue time reduced by several months.

29th April 2001

Drove up to the factory this morning for the Lotus Life club meeting. The weather was dreadful with huge standing puddles on the back lanes for to the factory. I felt for those Elise owners making their way by these same roads. Had a chat with some of the Lotus people around before a tour of the production facilities. Some of the laid off staff have been re-employed in new functions but this is not true for all of them. It lloks like Deb Marsh will be running the Lotus Life club in the future.

We were then taken on a 40 minute factory tour, starting on the old Elise line which is now making Exiges. Most of the Exiges were coming off the line with air-conditioning fitted. We then went in to the new Elise/VX220 factory. It is such an advance from the old production line with a huge new factory which is gleaming. It is a much more modern and cleaner environment and with all the new tooling, you know these cars are going to be better built. We got a good chance to look over the new Elises and plenty of opportunity to spot the various improvements made on the new car. This includes things like the door-stays, window winders, heating controls, etc. Even the speaker mountings are improved with the speaker directly mounted on the rear bulkhead and no longer stuck on, in a seperate enclosure. So many little things have been improved and a lot of thought has so obviously gone into changes and the way the changes have been made. The overall quality looked much higher. The production line is like a vast high-tech clean room and the new paint shop is exactly that. The VX220 and Elise S2 are built on two lines side by side, almost echoing the competition between them in the showroom and on the road. I wonder if the factory workers see it as a race? The VX220 looks very good but, standing next to an Elise it is no competition in my eyes. The Elise looks more agressive and purposeful.

At the end of the line were a new Silver and Calypso Red Elise awaiting new customers, allowing me to make a side by side comparision of my two favourite colours. The silver car looked stunning but then so did the Calypso Red, from the rear it will easily be mistaken as a Ferrari by a large number of the public. The Silver just won the day, but I later saw one outside and in the daylight it looks so different. It doesn't work so well, it's just too light and as I'd previously thought doesn't hide the detail well. Calypso Red is going to be my choice of colour this time, it is a bit in your face but it suits the car so well. Not a sign of a hard top was seen. An external carpark was full of VX220's and some lucky people were doing driver training out near the Lotus test track. An S2 Elise was being put through it's paces and the sound of squeeling rubber was a constant background noise.

I met up with a number of people from the various BBS's and on the journey back to Ipswich I passed my old Elise, still looking good and going strong.

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