Open Day at Hethel, 29th April 2001
I attended the Lotus Factory Open Day at Hethel on the 29th April 2001. Free Factory tours were being given, showing off the new buildings and the new Elise and VX220 production lines. The old factory is being used to finish the production of the Exige and Esprit. Sadly no camera's were allowed in the factory, so again the car park was my only source for pictures.
Exige production will continue for a least another six months on the old Elise line, taking around 2 weeks for each car from start to rolling off the line. Esprit production will cease in 2003 (not offical). Esprit production is currently at 5 units per week, with 46 production weeks a year the factory produce 230 esprits a year. The tour was consentrated mostly on Elises, the poor Esprit has been pushed into a small corner of the old factory with it's own dedicated team.
The new Elise is being assembled in a newly build factory building along side the Vauxhall/Opel VX220. The new production line has come along way compared to the old Elise/Esprit line. Much more high tec, with a larger area, better equipment, more lighting and more quality control checks. I was a little off put by the site of Vauxhall's being made in the Lotus Factory, but according to the guide, Lotus are making all the VX220 and then selling them to GM. So hopefully a profit is being made that can help keep Lotus strong.
'My Baby goes home'
My SE heads a line of cars parked inside the Factory
Queuing to get in behind mostly Elises'
And of course the organised routes down were mostly populated by Elises' (I spy an Elan though)
The home of all our little babies..... and a few Elises'
The New Factory Block built for the new Elise production line.... (what else)
New Elises' and Vauxhall VX220 waiting for new owners
Lotus's test track
At least someone's got a sense of humour, and it's not an Elise
Is that an Esprit I can see?....... Wonder who's got his head in the engine?
It's Esprit nut Vince, falling in love with a Yellow 300 sport
As you can guess, Esprit were heavily out numbered.
What a wing, V8's go all out
Old and New together. S3 and V8 sitting pretty.
Time to leave the Factory and eat up a few Elise's on the way home.
These picture were kindly supplied by Vincent Trouilliez.
6'6" Vincent tries out an S4s for size in the car park.
People come from across Europe to see the Factory.
One of the few Esprit breaking the Elise monopoly
Vincent's favorite, an S300 surrounded by Elises
Nice matching seat belts.
Vincent gets carried away taking pictures of the Sport.