Telsa Roadster delayed as CEO steps down

In an internal memo by Martin Eberhard, Tesla's CEO and co-founder, Eberhard announced he will step down as CEO after a four-year reign. Under Eberhard, Tesla has grown from 2 employees in one laction to 250 spread around the world. He will continue with the company in the role of President of Technology and will remain on Tesla's board of directors. In the new role, Eberhard will finalize the details of the upcoming Roadster and will continue to focus on Tesla's leadership in its core technology.

Michael Marks has been named interim CEO of Tesla until a permanent replacement is found. Marks is the former CEO of Flextronics, the world's largest contract manufacturing company, and also an early investor and customer of Tesla.

Eberhard also discussed the progress of the Roadster in his memo and said that it should be ready for production as early as next month. There has been a delay in production due to a change in the design of the transmission and its supplier, according to Automotive News.

The Roadster, based on the Lotus Elise, could be available to customers as early as November. Tesla is still awaiting the results of crash testing and the EPA's range validation, but claims the car can go from 0-60 in 4 seconds and has a range of more than 200 miles. Sold through factory-owned stores rather than franchised dealerships, Tesla hopes to sell 1,000 of the $98,000 Roadsters annually. 570 examples have already been pre-sold.

In addition to the Roadster, 35 Detroit engineers are also working on the Tesla electric sedan, code-named the White Star. Tesla has already purchased land in Albuquerque, New Mexico to build a White Star factory, although ground is yet to be broken according to Automotive News. Eberhard said he hopes to see the White Star in production by 2010 and that Tesla may issue initial public offering as early as next year to fund the construction of the new factory.

China to build Lotus Europa

Proton, parent company of Lotus, has entered into an agreement with China's Jinhua Neoplan Vehicle Co. that will see the Lotus Europa built in China. Production for the Europa will be at Jinhua Neoplan's plant in Jinan, China.

According to the China Daily, the two companies are also working together on producing a four-door sedan. Until now, Jinhua Neoplan had only been producing buses, but plans on producing 150,000 cars annually for the Chinese market as well as export.

The first Hypersport automotive comic strip emerges

My friends at Hypersport are always good "sports". So how do I repay them for their friendship? By making fun of them in a totally fictional comic strip titled Adventures in Hypersport, of course. You can view this silly piece of work by clicking here.

Lotus unveils Exige GT3 at Geneva

Lotus Sport, the race car performance arm of Lotus Cars Ltd, unveiled the Lotus Exige GT3 concept road vehicle in Geneva this week. The 271 BHP Exige GT3 is the most extreme version of the track car yet. Lotus believes it can deliver more grin-factor than ever before, as there are no intended compromises and no limits except the driver.

The Exige GT3's pure-bred racing brother will be again competing in the GT race arena in 2007,taking over the mantle from the successful 2006 British GT3 Championship car. On road or track the Lotus Exige GT3 winning pedigree will continue the honored Lotus racing tradition.

A new one-piece front clam-shell with fully masked front wheels and wheel arch venting leads the aerodynamically cleaned silhouette of this car.

The supercharged and inter-cooled 1796 cc engine in the Lotus GT3 has a maximum power output of 271bhp at the 8,000 rpm redline, and a torque figure of approximately 190lb/ft at 7,000 rpm. This significant amount of extra power and torque now available together with the VVTL-i variable cam system ensures that power is delivered linearly from low engine speeds up to the redline. The Roots-type Eaton M62 supercharger (with a sealed-for-life internal mechanism so that it requires no use of the engine's oil) is run from the crankshaft and has an integral bypass valve for part load operation. Four high capacity injectors and an up rated fuel pump add additional fuel under hard acceleration or high speed driving.

An Accusump oil accumulator unit is included in the whole package as an oil reservoir back-up for extreme track use ensuring that, under those conditions, the engine oil pressure remains constant. Twin oil coolers complete the power train package.

A sports-type clutch plate and heavy duty clutch cover transfer the engine power and torque to the lightweight aluminum C64 six-speed gearbox - with the same perfectly spaced ratios as the Exige S. An open type limited slip differential is fitted as standard. The Lotus switchable traction control system (LTCS) works through the engine, reducing power to maintain traction; it is active above five mph and reacts much more quickly than many brake-based systems.

Lotus designed lightweight structure of epoxy bonded aluminum alloy extrusions with crash structure, extruded aluminum door beams, integral steel seat-belt support structure and lightweight galvanized steel rear sub frame incorporating a structural shear panel.

GT3 derived one-piece front clamshell and wide track rear clamshell with full length roof scoop design taken from the Cup Exige 255. New full width rear wing with integral end plates mounting to rear clam. Race style front splitter; standard Exige door and body sides retained. It includes a multi-element rear diffuser with carbon fiber option.

Wheels and Tires
Five-spoke lightweight forged alloy wheels (front 7Jx16 and rear 10Jx17) with Lotus Sport specific Yokohama A048 R LTS tires (F: 195/50 R16 and R: 255/40 R17).

The brake system includes 308 mm diameter 2 piece aluminum belled cross drilled and ventilated front discs and 288 mm diameter cross-drilled and ventilated rear discs. AP Racing two-piece radially mounted 4 piston calipers at the front and Brembo single sliding piston at the rear. Pagid RS14 sports brake pads all round, plus high grade silicone brake fluid and stainless steel braided brake hoses. The servo-assisted four-channel ABS system enhances braking performance and minimizes stopping distance without taking over from the skill of the driver.

Fully independent suspension utilizing unequal length wishbones; Öhlins two-way adjustable dampers with coil over springs and Lotus Sport adjustable front anti-roll bar. A rear double shear track control arm brace is provided to cope with the expected kerb abuse during heavy track day driving.

0-60 mph 3.9 seconds (Manufacturer’s estimate)
0-100 mph 9.8 seconds (Manufacturer’s estimate)
Maximum Speed 160 mph -Electronically limited
Max Power 271 BHP at 8000 RPM
Max Torque 190 lb/ft at 7000 RPM

Lotus boss Mike Kimberley said:

"The Exige GT3 concept road car is a fantastic showcase product from our race car performance division, Lotus Sport. The car's racing background becomes immediately obvious from its aggressive stance, extreme width of rear track and innovative three-dimensional rear wing. The foundation of all Lotus products is phenomenal handling and ride characteristics, but the Exige GT3 takes these into another dimension altogether where supreme road holding and outrageous acceleration come evenly matched with sensational stopping ability."

The Exige GT3 will be developed into a production car for limited markets, to go on sale in late 2007 with an estimated price tag of between £50,000 ($96,700) and £60,000 ($116,000).

2010 Esprit Spied

Automotive spies in Europe have captured images of what appears to be an actual prototype 2010 Lotus Esprit. Previous test mules featured an old Esprit body with new underpinnings.
The car will be built at the Lotus headquarters at Hethel in Norfolk U.K. Lotus announced it had decided to build the successor in May, following an extensive evaluation of feasibility. It was later confirmed the Esprit name would be retained.
In September, Lotus gave a firm timeframe for the new Esprit, which it says will be unveiled in December 2009. Previously, Lotus had planned to launch the car a year earlier. The Esprit will be one of three all-new models due in the next few years.
Several sources have reported that Lotus has chosen to use a 4.4, or 4.8 litre V8 engine from BMW, customized by Lotus with its own electronic engine management and control unit.
It has been officially confirmed by Lotus that the new Esprit will not only become available as a coupe, but, for the first time, as a convertible/roadster, too.
Pricing is expected around $130,000 — undercutting the Ferrari F430 and Lamborghini Gallardo.

Lotus planning three all-new cars

Earlier this year, Lotus officially announced plans to build a successor to the Esprit supercar, which will serve as the company's future flagship towards the end of the decade. Today, the automaker announced it also has plans for two other new models. These include a new mid-range Lotus set for launch in December 2008 and a Lotus/Proton high-performance model, due in May 2008. Additionally, Lotus gave a firm timeframe for the new Esprit, which it says will be unveiled in December 2009. Previously, Lotus had planned to launch the car a year earlier.
Lotus says it decided to delay the launch of the Esprit to incorporate more Lotus "DNA" and other enhancements to "meet the changing needs of the global marketplace."
Proton previously indicated it was working with Lotus on a low-cost vehicle that would cost somewhere between $15,000 and $20,000 U.S. dollars. Lotus was also said to be collaborating on the now-cancelled Volkswagen GX3.
Mike Kimberley, Chief Executive Officer, Group Lotus said: "We are very pleased to have secured LGIL Board approval for a high-level five-year strategic business plan - the first such approved plan that this company has had in the last six years. We have some great opportunities ahead of us and some already under way. It's a very bright future but we have to work hard to bring all the opportunities to fruition."
The current Lotus model range includes the award-winning and class-leading Elise and Exige with the recently-introduced Europa S. Development work on two of the three new models is already
ongoing and will increase significantly in future months.
In August, rumors surfaced that Lotus might begin re-engineering cars from other automakers as it did as many as forty years ago with the Ford Lotus Cortina, Talbot Lotus Sunbeam and Vauxhall Lotus Carlton.
Lotus is responsible for much of the engineering work on the recently-introduced Tesla electric roadster.

Lotus will keep Esprit name

In May, Lotus officially confirmed it would build a new mid-engined car for the 2008 or 2009 model year. While the car will occupy the sector vacated by the Lotus Esprit that finished production in 2004 (pictured), the automaker has tried to downplay rumors that the new vehicle would revive the Esprit nameplate. However, Lotus boss Mike Kimberley told the U.K.'s PistonHeads in a recent interview that the car will use the name. The interviewer noted that "the PR man cringed" and reminded Mr. Kimberley that what he meant to say was "the mid-engined sports car."