LONDON -- China has given Lotus hope that its upmarket push will pay off after demand for a special edition sports car costing over 200,000 euros was oversubscribed.
Lotus CEO Dany Bahar said he was relieved that sales of the carbon-fiber Evora GTE in China were four times more than the expected demand.
"When we developed this business, there was criticism that Lotus had never built such a product range before. It was a relief to see, even today with the current quality and product, we could sell it at that price," Bahar said.
The special edition Evora was original planned as a limited edition only for the Chinese market, costing the equivalent of 213,000 euros.
"We were initially just going to have 25 of them because we were unsure whether we could justify that high price," Bahar said. "But it turned out the Chinese market ordered 115. We did not expect that demand. It's confirmation that [when] we have a better product, of better quality, we would be able to sell those cars worldwide."
Bahar confirmed that the GTE will be offered globally, selling between 110,000 pounds and 120,000 pounds (130,000-142,000 euros) in the UK.
The British niche sports car brand unveiled a plan to become a rival to Porsche at the 2010 Paris auto show, where it unveiled five new sports car concepts, and promised production for all five.
The first, the V8 Esprit, will be unveiled in production form at the 2013 Geneva auto show, according to Bahar.
Lotus has now sold just over 450 cars in China since in May when the company said it would open a dealership in Beijing. The dealership opened last month and Bahar has revised his planned China dealership numbers from eight to 14 by the end of 2012.
A Lotus spokesman confirmed that last week owners Proton Holdings have extended Bahar's contract for another four years, a year before it was due to expire.
Lotus sales are expected to be static this year, with Bahar predicting a final total of around 2,670 cars. Next year he expects sales of the three-model range to fall slightly.
Baher said: "It's in our projection that the volume of cars will be reduced. However higher margin cars are selling better than the smaller [margin] cars."