Lotus last week built its last Elise, some 26 years after the spritely roadster first entered production.
The Elise had been pivotal in keeping Lotus alive during decades of financial hardship, and while it’s now out of production the nameplate could be revived in a few years for a new electric sports car.
Development of the Elise started shortly after Italian entrepreneur Romano Artioli bought Lotus from General Motors in 1993, with the car’s launch taking place three years later. Artioli, who was chairman of Lotus at the time, decided to name it after his granddaughter, Elisa Artioli.
The car even to this day is regarded as one of the best sports cars thanks to its combination of low weight and agile handling. And while it has been updated over the years to keep it competitive, it never received a costly airbag update required for sale in the U.S., which is why it was pulled from the market here in 2011.
The final Lotus Elise, Exige and Evora – December 2021
The Elise has now been phased out worldwide together with the related Exige and Evora, with special final-edition versions of each launched earlier this year to mark the end of the run. Shown above is the final example of each of the trio, together with some of the Lotus staff, past and present, who helped contribute to the design, engineering and assembly of the cars. The final cars will be kept in Lotus’ heritage collection.
Combined production over the three decades totals just 51,738 units, making the Elise, Exige and Evora relatively rare pieces of sports car history.
We should also mention the donor Elise units that were converted into Tesla Roadsters. There were also some Elise chassis that Lotus during the 2000s used for Opel Speedster (and Vauxhall VX220) models supplied to GM. These additional cars add another 9,715 units to the tally.
With the Elise, Exige and Evora now out of production, Lotus will focus on its Evija electric hypercar and new Emira. The Emira is based on an updated version of the aluminum platform found in the Elise and will be the last Lotus with an internal-combustion engine, as only EVs are planned going forward. The Emira enters production shortly at the Lotus plant in Hethel, U.K., and will reach showrooms in the spring as a 2023 model. Also next spring will be the reveal of Lotus’ first crossover.