A new era of manufacturing has begun at Lotus’s new production centre in Norwich with the completion of the first extruded and bonded chassis built there.
The chassis for the legendary Lotus Elise was built for the validation and quality checking of the new manufacturing process.
Although not destined for a final vehicle, it will remain at the factory for testing. As chassis manufacturing volumes grow steadily over the next few months, it will help ensure that the processes adhere to the globally recognised quality standards expected.
New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership helped the iconic company complete the deal, announced last July, to develop a new facility in the city after it outgrew its existing ones in Norwich and Worcester.
Chris Starkie, Chief Executive of the LEP, said: “This is fantastic news for Lotus and for our manufacturing sector, which can play an important role in the recovery effort and our future economic sustainability.
“We were delighted to have been able to help secure this production centre in Norwich and we will also be supporting a training programme aimed at upskilling current staff and providing technical apprenticeships.”
The new 12,300 m2 facility has the capacity to build several thousand chassis per year. It will produce around 1,500 units for the Lotus Elise, Exige and Evora during 2021.
Set to employ 125 highly skilled operatives, technicians and engineers, the site also houses the welding and fabrication of sub-frames, suspension components and other key parts for Lotus cars.
The investment from Lotus, which has its headquarters and sports car manufacturing 10 miles away in Hethel, Norfolk, further demonstrates its commitment to the region.
Lotus announced in July 2020 that as part of its expansion programme it had outgrown existing facilities in Worcester and Norwich, and so would combine both production processes into one new combined location – Hurricane Way, in the north of Norwich.
Tooling has already been upgraded in readiness for a new range of Lotus sports cars to be launched in the coming years.
David Hewitt, Executive Director of Operations, Lotus Cars, said: “The production of this first lightweight chassis is a significant landmark for the new Hurricane Way facility. I would like to thank everyone who has worked extremely hard to ensure that, despite challenging circumstances, it is up and running and on schedule.”
“In parallel, we are close to finishing our new assembly facility at our Hethel HQ. By the end of the year, the whole of Lotus’ sports car manufacturing facilities and processes will be either new or vastly improved. This will give us solid foundations to maintain our leadership in the rapidly changing low volume automotive assembly industry.”
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