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19 February, 2009 - 15:52 By Staff Reporter

Lotus races into Middle East

Lotus Cars Limited, the sportscar subsidiary of Norfolk based Group Lotus plc, is set to open up a new trail of export success in the Gulf.

The company has appointed Al Ghassan Motors to sell Lotus cars in Saudi Arabia and CEO Mike Kimberley says the deal will be the springboard to further promote the Lotus brand in the Middle East. Al Ghassan Lotus is based in Jeddah and will have dealerships and service facilities in Jeddah, Riyadh and Al Khobar. The first cars to enter the Saudi Arabian market are the legendary Lotus Elise SC, the dramatic Lotus Exige S and the awesome road and track use Lotus Exige Cup 260. The incredibly quick and ultra-light weight Lotus 2Eleven will also be available, but for track use only. The all new Lotus Evora, a stunning 2+2 mid-engined sportscar, which was unveiled at the British International Motorshow last July, will enter the market in early 2010. Lotus has conducted extensive testing of the Elise SC, the Exige S and the Exige Cup 260 in the Middle East and has made significant changes to these models to cope with the high ambient temperatures and humidity, as well as the high levels of atmospheric dust and sand. Kimberley said: “We have spent two summers in the Gulf Region testing the Elise and Exige in this very hot, humid and dusty environment. I am very pleased with the package of region-specific changes, which include an uprated radiator, enhanced heat management package, heat reflective windscreen, dust filtration for the cockpit ventilation system and an optional auxiliary air-conditioning unit. “We have also included exclusive cockpit insulation, boot insulation and leather clad gearknob and handbrake sleeve in the Touring Pack option to supplement the overall occupant comfort in this extreme climate. “These changes add very little weight to the Elise and Exige.” A fleet of race specification Lotus Exige Cup 260 cars is being built at the advanced high technology Lotus manufacturing facility in Hethel, Norfolk. These race specification cars, a direct development of the Lotus Exige Cup 260 road cars, are being built specifically for an exciting Lotus one-make racing series based at the Reem International Circuit, 80 km west of Riyadh. The first shipment of Lotus Elise and Exige models have already arrived in Saudi Arabia in preparation for the launch of Al Ghassan Lotus. At the other end of the business barometer, Lotus Engineering’s ice scout vehicle will play a vital role in an East Antarctic odyssey. Made of 80 per cent aircraft grade aluminium, powered by ethanol and weighing just 793 lbs, the ice scout was custom built for a 3,000 mile trek by scientists gathering information about snowfall patterns, the Antarctic atmosphere and the performance of biofuels in the world’s harshest environments. The vehicle starts trials in Sweden in March and, if these are successful, will lead the expedition in November. The vehicle will act as an advanced scouting party for the main expeditionary fleet, which includes a 4.7 ton truck filled with highly expensive scientific equipment, sniffing out deep cracks in the ice that could prove disastrous if undetected.

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