My day at Hethel

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I've got lots to share from my day at the Lotus Hethel factory and test track yesterday. Bear with me, it won't all be in one post and I will add to this thread during today and tomorrow. I'm also adding updates on relevant threads too, such as about specific features and the process in the US.

As many know, I've been sharing my and our frustrations about poor comms and customer service with contacts at Lotus. That resulted in my four pages of feedback (plus input from others) being raised with senior management. As a consequence, four of us were invited to go to Hethel, see for ourselves what is happening and discuss with senior people. Greg and Andrew went on Thursday and Ade @Evotion and I went on Friday. Greg has already posted his write up here and he and Andrew have added to that in response to questions. I'll try to avoid duplication.

Headlines
  1. Remember it's still a pre-production car. That has been affecting comms and timing. But it's coming and it's (mostly) on track - the month delay from May to June is due to type approvals not supply chain, but Lotus are taking mitigating steps which will mean UK customer deliveries will catch up rapidly.
  2. Quality. The step change from old factory to new factory is hugely impressive. The investment in production technology is the most visible, but behind that has been the hiring of a lot of production engineering and QA expertise from places like Toyota and Volvo as well as consulting input. There's also a lot happening on training, production proving and review. We saw the robots used for assembling panels to cars (it's like something from a scifi movie), one of three automated paint shops and the huge laser rig used to measure thousands of dimensions on every car at different stages of the build process to ensure they are built to tolerance. We also saw latest iteration seats (more on this later) and the QA sheets capturing feedback on what needs improving. We also saw full dashboards with immaculate stitching and gorgeous aluminium bracketry (which most people won't see). Lots of other things showing the evidence of the quality focus.
  3. Colours. We saw all 6 First Edition colours (more details to follow) and they are all stunning. The bright colours pop and flow really well and the darker colours look classy and elegant. The curves of the car mean the colour changes constantly across the surface of the car, something we already know is really hard to see on a small sample. Eagle7's renders are very close and a new configurator is coming next week with much better renditions and the option to use different lighting.
  4. Customer communication. They acknowledge this has not been as good as it should be and actions are being taken to address that. Briefings have taken place this week to all UK and US dealers with updates on the car, timing, processes, etc. Update emails have started going out to UK customers (segmented into clusters) and the new configurator plus finance and part exchange options will go live next week. Press drives and publication of reviews have been scheduled (we will see in 2-3 months time) and a further round of information being released is phased around that, including things like i4 FE and base pricing.
  5. Delivery. Customer cars are on track to start in June in the UK. There are no concerns currently about supply chain, although it's obviously requiring a lot of work and planning and management. The key point is the slip from May to June is down to approvals not supply chain. Lotus are mitigating this and will be delivering a much larger batch in June and July than a normal month of production. So total 2022 volume will still be in line with original plans.
  6. The car. I know I'm a Lotus enthusiast and some people think I get paid by the factory. But honestly folks it is utterly stunning. It looks fantastic and will turns heads, the interior is driver-focused and high quality, it looks and sounds awesome out on track and just pottering around the site. We spent time in the visitor centre and kept catching glances of cars moving around the site - some in the characteristic Emira "glamouflage" (yes, that's what it's called) and several in FE and non-prod colours.
  7. Have faith! This is going to be an iconic car and if you have a deposit down you are not going to be disappointed.
Huge thanks to Scott Walker (UK Sales) for helping to make this day happen and to Matt Windle (Lotus MD), Geoff Dowding (Sales Director) and all the Lotus development, production, QA, logistics and events staff who spoke to us and showed us around.

Topics to come (and links to those topics once added):
We were also told some things we were asked not to share, mainly because Lotus want to communicate it at the relevant time.
 
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Leonard

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Awesome stuff 🍻 Tom
I know I shouldn't be so excited about the seats, but I really am. Was worried they would be a weak point if left in the current show car config.
This is a bit of a teaser! 🤔🥰
  • i4 development status and the surprise engine modification
 

eclat2emira

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I've got lots to share from my day at the Lotus Hethel factory and test track yesterday. Bear with me, it won't all be in one post and I will add to this thread during today and tomorrow. I'm also adding updates on relevant threads too, such as about specific features and the process in the US.

As many know, I've been sharing my and our frustrations about poor comms and customer service with contacts at Lotus. That resulted in my four pages of feedback (plus input from others) being raised with senior management. As a consequence, four of us were invited to go to Hethel, see for ourselves what is happening and discuss with senior people. Greg and Andrew went on Thursday and Ade @Evotion and I went on Friday. Greg has already posted his write up here and he and Andrew have added to that in response to questions. I'll try to avoid duplication.

Headlines
  1. Remember it's still a pre-production car. That has been affecting comms and timing. But it's coming and it's (mostly) on track - the month delay from May to June is due to type approvals not supply chain, but Lotus are taking mitigating steps which will mean UK customer deliveries will catch up rapidly.
  2. Quality. The step change from old factory to new factory is hugely impressive. The investment in production technology is the most visible, but behind that has been the hiring of a lot of production engineering and QA expertise from places like Toyota and Volvo as well as consulting input. There's also a lot happening on training, production proving and review. We saw the robots used for assembling panels to cars (it's like something from a scifi movie), one of three automated paint shops and the huge laser rig used to measure thousands of dimensions on every car at different stages of the build process to ensure they are built to tolerance. We also saw latest iteration seats (more on this later) and the QA sheets capturing feedback on what needs improving. We also saw full dashboards with immaculate stitching and gorgeous aluminium bracketry (which most people won't see). Lots of other things showing the evidence of the quality focus.
  3. Colours. We saw all 6 First Edition colours (more details to follow) and they are all stunning. The bright colours pop and flow really well and the darker colours look classy and elegant. The curves of the car mean the colour changes constantly across the surface of the car, something we already know is really hard to see on a small sample. Eagle7's renders are very close and a new configurator is coming next week with much better renditions and the option to use different lighting.
  4. Customer communication. They acknowledge this has not been as good as it should be and actions are being taken to address that. Briefings have taken place this week to all UK and US dealers with updates on the car, timing, processes, etc. Update emails have started going out to UK customers (segmented into clusters) and the new configurator plus finance and part exchange options will go live next week. Press drives and publication of reviews have been scheduled (we will see in 2-3 months time) and a further round of information being released is phased around that, including things like i4 FE and base pricing.
  5. Delivery. Customer cars are on track to start in June in the UK. There are no concerns currently about supply chain, although it's obviously requiring a lot of work and planning and management. The key point is the slip from May to June is down to approvals not supply chain. Lotus are mitigating this and will be delivering a much larger batch in June and July than a normal month of production. So total 2022 volume will still be in line with original plans.
  6. The car. I know I'm a Lotus enthusiast and some people think I get paid by the factory. But honestly folks it is utterly stunning. It looks fantastic and will turns heads, the interior is driver-focused and high quality, it looks and sounds awesome out on track and just pottering around the site. We spent time in the visitor centre and kept catching glances of cars moving around the site - some in the characteristic Emira "glamouflage" (yes, that's what it's called) and several in FE and non-prod colours.
  7. Have faith! This is going to be an iconic car and if you have a deposit down you are not going to be disappointed.
Huge thanks to Scott Walker (UK Sales) for helping to make this day happen and to Matt Windle (Lotus MD), Geoff Dowding (Sales Director) and all the Lotus development, production, QA, logistics and events staff who spoke to us and showed us around.

Topics to come:
  • Colours: more thoughts on what I saw
  • Sport and Touring: our chat with one of the development drivers and more info written by Gav Kershaw and about to be published
  • Comms and deposit and order processes
  • US/Canda approach
  • After Sales: spares provisioning and servicing
  • Press programme
  • Dealer demo cars
  • Delivery and factory collection options
  • i4 development status and the surprise engine modification
  • Latest revision on the seats
  • Hiring and second shift
  • New rolling road, monsoon test chamber and shakedown track
  • Diamond cut wheel design (confirmation of details and feedback process with Customer Care)
  • GT4 car and race programme
  • Radford development
  • Elise/Exige Final Editions
We were also told some things we were asked not to share, mainly because Lotus want to communicate it at the relevant time.
Great stuff Tom, thanks for sharing. Especially keen to hear about Touring Vs Sports suspension and the seats. All the info here and elsewhere recently about the nature of the new factory production set-up is what any informed observer would be expecting; anyone casually tossing around comments about past quality and reliability issues clearly does not understand the massive step-change that is taking place at Lotus.

It feels increasingly like we are heading for the best of all outcomes - keeping everything that is great about Lotus cars while consigning the failings to the past.

With a 14th July deposit I am still hopeful of catching the tail-end of the summer, so the Verdant Green on my Emira can do its thing in the sun, before it spends the next 6-months looking black under Scottish skies!
 
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Lots_Of_Trouble

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I've got lots to share from my day at the Lotus Hethel factory and test track yesterday. Bear with me, it won't all be in one post and I will add to this thread during today and tomorrow. I'm also adding updates on relevant threads too, such as about specific features and the process in the US.

As many know, I've been sharing my and our frustrations about poor comms and customer service with contacts at Lotus. That resulted in my four pages of feedback (plus input from others) being raised with senior management. As a consequence, four of us were invited to go to Hethel, see for ourselves what is happening and discuss with senior people. Greg and Andrew went on Thursday and Ade @Evotion and I went on Friday. Greg has already posted his write up here and he and Andrew have added to that in response to questions. I'll try to avoid duplication.

Headlines
  1. Remember it's still a pre-production car. That has been affecting comms and timing. But it's coming and it's (mostly) on track - the month delay from May to June is due to type approvals not supply chain, but Lotus are taking mitigating steps which will mean UK customer deliveries will catch up rapidly.
  2. Quality. The step change from old factory to new factory is hugely impressive. The investment in production technology is the most visible, but behind that has been the hiring of a lot of production engineering and QA expertise from places like Toyota and Volvo as well as consulting input. There's also a lot happening on training, production proving and review. We saw the robots used for assembling panels to cars (it's like something from a scifi movie), one of three automated paint shops and the huge laser rig used to measure thousands of dimensions on every car at different stages of the build process to ensure they are built to tolerance. We also saw latest iteration seats (more on this later) and the QA sheets capturing feedback on what needs improving. We also saw full dashboards with immaculate stitching and gorgeous aluminium bracketry (which most people won't see). Lots of other things showing the evidence of the quality focus.
  3. Colours. We saw all 6 First Edition colours (more details to follow) and they are all stunning. The bright colours pop and flow really well and the darker colours look classy and elegant. The curves of the car mean the colour changes constantly across the surface of the car, something we already know is really hard to see on a small sample. Eagle7's renders are very close and a new configurator is coming next week with much better renditions and the option to use different lighting.
  4. Customer communication. They acknowledge this has not been as good as it should be and actions are being taken to address that. Briefings have taken place this week to all UK and US dealers with updates on the car, timing, processes, etc. Update emails have started going out to UK customers (segmented into clusters) and the new configurator plus finance and part exchange options will go live next week. Press drives and publication of reviews have been scheduled (we will see in 2-3 months time) and a further round of information being released is phased around that, including things like i4 FE and base pricing.
  5. Delivery. Customer cars are on track to start in June in the UK. There are no concerns currently about supply chain, although it's obviously requiring a lot of work and planning and management. The key point is the slip from May to June is down to approvals not supply chain. Lotus are mitigating this and will be delivering a much larger batch in June and July than a normal month of production. So total 2022 volume will still be in line with original plans.
  6. The car. I know I'm a Lotus enthusiast and some people think I get paid by the factory. But honestly folks it is utterly stunning. It looks fantastic and will turns heads, the interior is driver-focused and high quality, it looks and sounds awesome out on track and just pottering around the site. We spent time in the visitor centre and kept catching glances of cars moving around the site - some in the characteristic Emira "glamouflage" (yes, that's what it's called) and several in FE and non-prod colours.
  7. Have faith! This is going to be an iconic car and if you have a deposit down you are not going to be disappointed.
Huge thanks to Scott Walker (UK Sales) for helping to make this day happen and to Matt Windle (Lotus MD), Geoff Dowding (Sales Director) and all the Lotus development, production, QA, logistics and events staff who spoke to us and showed us around.

Topics to come:
  • Colours: more thoughts on what I saw
  • Sport and Touring: our chat with one of the development drivers and more info written by Gav Kershaw and about to be published
  • Comms and deposit and order processes
  • US/Canda approach
  • After Sales: spares provisioning and servicing
  • Press programme
  • Dealer demo cars
  • Delivery and factory collection options
  • i4 development status and the surprise engine modification
  • Latest revision on the seats
  • Hiring and second shift
  • New rolling road, monsoon test chamber and shakedown track
  • Diamond cut wheel design (confirmation of details and feedback process with Customer Care)
  • GT4 car and race programme
  • Radford development
  • Elise/Exige Final Editions
We were also told some things we were asked not to share, mainly because Lotus want to communicate it at the relevant time.
Very articulate, Tom.

Thank you for the time and effort to write this
 

Jonhklee

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Surprise modification to the AMG I4? 🤔 that’s going to be interesting!
 

andrew6382

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Awesome stuff 🍻 Tom
I know I shouldn't be so excited about the seats, but I really am. Was worried they would be a weak point if left in the current show car config.
This is a bit of a teaser! 🤔🥰
  • i4 development status and the surprise engine modification
Dont worry.... from me if the seats in finished trim look as good as the samples we got to see.... your going to be happy... To me they look more interesting than the Porshe.... and aswell put together
 

andrew6382

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I've got lots to share from my day at the Lotus Hethel factory and test track yesterday. Bear with me, it won't all be in one post and I will add to this thread during today and tomorrow. I'm also adding updates on relevant threads too, such as about specific features and the process in the US.

As many know, I've been sharing my and our frustrations about poor comms and customer service with contacts at Lotus. That resulted in my four pages of feedback (plus input from others) being raised with senior management. As a consequence, four of us were invited to go to Hethel, see for ourselves what is happening and discuss with senior people. Greg and Andrew went on Thursday and Ade @Evotion and I went on Friday. Greg has already posted his write up here and he and Andrew have added to that in response to questions. I'll try to avoid duplication.

Headlines
  1. Remember it's still a pre-production car. That has been affecting comms and timing. But it's coming and it's (mostly) on track - the month delay from May to June is due to type approvals not supply chain, but Lotus are taking mitigating steps which will mean UK customer deliveries will catch up rapidly.
  2. Quality. The step change from old factory to new factory is hugely impressive. The investment in production technology is the most visible, but behind that has been the hiring of a lot of production engineering and QA expertise from places like Toyota and Volvo as well as consulting input. There's also a lot happening on training, production proving and review. We saw the robots used for assembling panels to cars (it's like something from a scifi movie), one of three automated paint shops and the huge laser rig used to measure thousands of dimensions on every car at different stages of the build process to ensure they are built to tolerance. We also saw latest iteration seats (more on this later) and the QA sheets capturing feedback on what needs improving. We also saw full dashboards with immaculate stitching and gorgeous aluminium bracketry (which most people won't see). Lots of other things showing the evidence of the quality focus.
  3. Colours. We saw all 6 First Edition colours (more details to follow) and they are all stunning. The bright colours pop and flow really well and the darker colours look classy and elegant. The curves of the car mean the colour changes constantly across the surface of the car, something we already know is really hard to see on a small sample. Eagle7's renders are very close and a new configurator is coming next week with much better renditions and the option to use different lighting.
  4. Customer communication. They acknowledge this has not been as good as it should be and actions are being taken to address that. Briefings have taken place this week to all UK and US dealers with updates on the car, timing, processes, etc. Update emails have started going out to UK customers (segmented into clusters) and the new configurator plus finance and part exchange options will go live next week. Press drives and publication of reviews have been scheduled (we will see in 2-3 months time) and a further round of information being released is phased around that, including things like i4 FE and base pricing.
  5. Delivery. Customer cars are on track to start in June in the UK. There are no concerns currently about supply chain, although it's obviously requiring a lot of work and planning and management. The key point is the slip from May to June is down to approvals not supply chain. Lotus are mitigating this and will be delivering a much larger batch in June and July than a normal month of production. So total 2022 volume will still be in line with original plans.
  6. The car. I know I'm a Lotus enthusiast and some people think I get paid by the factory. But honestly folks it is utterly stunning. It looks fantastic and will turns heads, the interior is driver-focused and high quality, it looks and sounds awesome out on track and just pottering around the site. We spent time in the visitor centre and kept catching glances of cars moving around the site - some in the characteristic Emira "glamouflage" (yes, that's what it's called) and several in FE and non-prod colours.
  7. Have faith! This is going to be an iconic car and if you have a deposit down you are not going to be disappointed.
Huge thanks to Scott Walker (UK Sales) for helping to make this day happen and to Matt Windle (Lotus MD), Geoff Dowding (Sales Director) and all the Lotus development, production, QA, logistics and events staff who spoke to us and showed us around.

Topics to come:
  • Colours: more thoughts on what I saw
  • Sport and Touring: our chat with one of the development drivers and more info written by Gav Kershaw and about to be published
  • Comms and deposit and order processes
  • US/Canda approach
  • After Sales: spares provisioning and servicing
  • Press programme
  • Dealer demo cars
  • Delivery and factory collection options
  • i4 development status and the surprise engine modification
  • Latest revision on the seats
  • Hiring and second shift
  • New rolling road, monsoon test chamber and shakedown track
  • Diamond cut wheel design (confirmation of details and feedback process with Customer Care)
  • GT4 car and race programme
  • Radford development
  • Elise/Exige Final Editions
We were also told some things we were asked not to share, mainly because Lotus want to communicate it at the relevant time.
Am looking forward to your write up... you clearly have a more clinical mind than the fan boy one I had working around on Thursday.... am still now remembering thing.... but that just could be my age.... OH yes.... did you see the Grey/silver one..... :eek:
 

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Excellent write-up Tom. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and observations.

Eagerly await further instalments of your ''My day at Hethel' experience'. Make it sooner rather than later. Otherwise, Lotus may beat you to it! :D
 

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Quick comment;

To make the information flow easier (and as this thread is still fairly young) I suggest you copy / paste to a new thread and reserve the first 4/5 posts so you’re able to provide all the information segmented in posts so easy to follow but also in order.

There will be a ton of questions and comments on your update thread and it’ll make it quite difficult to follow and appreciate the updates as intended.
 

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Quick comment;

To make the information flow easier (and as this thread is still fairly young) I suggest you copy / paste to a new thread and reserve the first 4/5 posts so you’re able to provide all the information segmented in posts so easy to follow but also in order.

There will be a ton of questions and comments on your update thread and it’ll make it quite difficult to follow and appreciate the updates as intended.
The sentiment of organising information is spot-on (y), but forking off into another thread may just cause confusion. Alternatively, add the sections inline in the first post (could get hilariously large though), or edit/add links in the first post to each "section" post, using it as an index.
(for extra credit, add forward/back links in each section post so people can traverse the content linearly if they wish)
 

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1. The US is ready!
2. On the edge of my seat for your next write-up kid.
3. “Parts exchange” - what is that?
4. Tell us the story about the colors again! Please? How they shine & stuff.
5. Thanks man. This is awesome!
 

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Thanks so much for the detailed write-up, @TomE, and for those to come. I'm eagerly awaiting your next installments. I feel like a kid waiting for the next Harry Potter book! :D
 
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Quick comment;

To make the information flow easier (and as this thread is still fairly young) I suggest you copy / paste to a new thread and reserve the first 4/5 posts so you’re able to provide all the information segmented in posts so easy to follow but also in order.

There will be a ton of questions and comments on your update thread and it’ll make it quite difficult to follow and appreciate the updates as intended.
Good point. I will add some info by re-editing the original post and adding info on the end (which I will flag by posting on the end of the thread too). But I think there's a character limit. I might add some of the more specific topics as new threads.
 

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Good point. I will add some info by re-editing the original post and adding info on the end (which I will flag by posting on the end of the thread too). But I think there's a character limit. I might add some of the more specific topics as new threads.
OR host a quick call. We can call it “Toomus” a Zoom call with Tom talking Lotus. Just say the word.
 
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I just hope it isn't something like "we took the turbo off to save some weight and improve handling... surprise!!"
So you already know? Darn, I though I had breaking news! ;)

It's related to ride and handling and engine packaging and thermal management. Lotus and AMG have been working together on much more than we thought, it's not just bolting a crated engine onto a subframe and twiddling with the ECU. Shows the extent of the Lotus/AMG collaboration.

I'm going to start a new thread about it later, as I expect it will generate a lot of interest.
 
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The sentiment of organising information is spot-on (y), but forking off into another thread may just cause confusion. Alternatively, add the sections inline in the first post (could get hilariously large though), or edit/add links in the first post to each "section" post, using it as an index.
(for extra credit, add forward/back links in each section post so people can traverse the content linearly if they wish)
Yes, it's going to need some structuring! I'll try to work it out. I need a wiki ;)
 

Lots_Of_Trouble

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1. The US is ready!
2. On the edge of my seat for your next write-up kid.
3. “Parts exchange” - what is that?
4. Tell us the story about the colors again! Please? How they shine & stuff.
5. Thanks man. This is awesome!
Part exchange- the UK equivalent of a car trade in
 

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