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17 September, 2009 - 09:04 By Staff Reporter

Lotus pledges further Norfolk investment

Norfolk-based Lotus Cars has pledged further strong investment in new products and headcount as it continues to defy the economic gloom.

Lotus has upped its manufacturing workforce by 30 per cent and has earmarked more than £20 million for product investment in 2009/10 to fuel continued growth. This is on top of the £28m already invested in 2008/09.First deliveries of the new, multi-award winning Lotus Evora have started and there is already a substantial order bank of five months’ production, the Hethel company reports.To cope with this demand, Lotus has recruited 150 additional manufacturing staff over the last six months. Planned sales volumes of the Lotus Evora for FY 2009/10 is in excess of 1200 with the production rate reaching 10 cars per day by the end of November 2009. The current production rate of Lotus’ small platform products (Elise, Exige, 2-Eleven and those for third parties) remains stable.A company statement said that investment for Lotus Cars will be in future variants of all Lotus products including an automatic gearbox version of the Evora for the 2011 model year. Research earmarked by Lotus Engineering includes range extender engines for series hybrids, lightweight vehicle structures, super-efficient internal combustion engines and hybrid and electric vehicles, all areas where Lotus is recognised as being a world leader.Luke Bennett, director of Lotus Cars, said: “We must be one of the few car companies in the world that is increasing production and recruiting staff to support increased demand for its products. Lotus has not been immune from the effects of the global economic downturn, but fortunately we are better placed than most due to the timely launch of the new Evora.”Last financial year Lotus increased its sales by 2 per cent to £111m in the face of a challenging market. A major contributor to sales growth was Lotus Engineering, the hi-tech engineering consultancy, which increased sales by 23 per cent despite the curtailment of new product plans by clients in the automotive sector.Paul Newsome, managing director of Lotus Engineering, said: “Our sales growth stems from developing new markets, growing the existing client base and focusing on green technologies, specifically those that are aimed at reducing CO2 emissions of vehicles.”

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