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A blast from the past

I remembered an amusing if infuriating chat with an ex-girlfriend I had a few years ago about the dastardly polluting ways of 4×4 vehicles.  She was from a trendy, misguided ‘green’ family who attended an annual ‘No Nukes’ protest in Parliament Square, walked to the local shops instead of driving (except when raining) and ate bird feed instead of chips.  That was the long and short of it.  She berated anyone who used a 4×4 and said she felt guilty even sitting in my old man’s Range Rover.

I asked her how polluting the Rangie was.  “Very” was her response.  I then asked if she meant C02 or pollutants.  She looked pretty vacant after that one.  And so it went on.  She did know that hot engines pumped out less of whatever she didn’t know, than cold ones, which rocked me a bit.  I enquired as to how she could slam all 4×4 owners when she, and her knit-wearing rosy-cheeked family hadn’t a clue how harmful they were, even in relation to other cars on the road.  She squirmed and raised her voice.

I then suggested that Mr Photocopier Rep who drove an Eco Focus  40,000 miles each year, polluted far more than Mr Retiree who drove his V8 Range Rover 5,000 miles each year.  No matter how I explained it, with arm gestures, pen and paper and 3D modelling, she simply couldn’t grasp that.  I suspect that if she did, everything her parents had drip-fed her over the years would suddenly mean nothing and then where would the anger be channelled?

I eventually proved my general point to her, entertaining myself in the process, but it’s always the same with the anti-SUV crowd.  They’ll happily pluck the most convincing statistics without fully understanding them and ram them down everyone’s throats for eternity until long after it becomes moot.  They’ll actively chase poor Mr Bumworthy down the street throwing eggs at his Discovery, whilst the empty number 67 chugs past un-impinged.

It’s a self-satisfying protest.  Backslapping all round after a thirty second appearance on the 6 O’clock news hoisting placards aloft outside the factory gates, whilst engineers the world over work tirelessly to improve each engine generation and seek out efficiency gains.

You can guarantee that the next generation Range Rover, with over 400kgs shed from its waist, stop-start and eventual electric running, will be hounded in exactly the same fashion.  They don’t understand and possibly would prefer not to.

Oh, you might be wondering what my ex’s family pootled around in when “absolutely necessary”…. A 20 year old Nissan Patrol.  Priceless.

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Three Amigos – Lotus to JLR?

Every publication at the moment reveals the latest rumours regarding the demise at Lotus.  Truth is, no one has a clue what’s going on, but just as they were beginning to show signs of real progression, with new, improved models and model lines, everything seemingly goes wrong.  To us at least. 

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So what next?  DRB-Hicom appear to be spinning plates until someone comes up with an answer, hence the radio silence.  But I have a remedy.  It’s a long, long shot, but a JLR purchase of Lotus could benefit all parties.

Firstly, the idea of mating another historical British brand to those of Jaguar and Land Rover is appealing from a PR perspective, if merely a romantic notion.   With three brands covering different markets, and demographics to a large extent, JLR ‘lifers’ could be gained. 

Tata has turned JLR around relatively quickly maximising profit margin from relatively modest sales compared to the giants.  That would be the only way to keep Lotus successful without going more mainstream, and JLR’s ability is proven.  Lotus would fit under the JLR global umbrella well with such a prestigious name and would gain long term credibility through association with its big sisters, not to mention the ability to stroll through open doors to new markets already forged.

The two companies already share a future vision, of lightweight aluminium technology, not to mention previous collaboration on various projects including Lotus electric range extender technology, which currently resides in an XJ.  In addition to this, both companies place ride and handling as their dynamic priorities, a shared ethos which would see them slot together without much change in direction.

As for model synergy, the Jaguar C-X75 could provide modular elements of its mid-engined hybrid set up to a new Esprit, should it be required, as per McLaren with their one-size-fits-all monocell. The forthcoming F-Type could even provide the basis of a new Elan, more stripped out, harder, lighter and cheaper.

Lotus would have the opportunity to dump the Toyota lumps and use the new JLR supercharged V6 and turbocharged 2.0 I4 tweaked to suit their driveability targets.  If a front engined Rapide-style Lotus GT was ever to surface, they could mix-and-match any of Jaguar’s current or future platforms.

I believe the next big step after a merger could involve the creation of a city car, to be developed by Lotus who have consultancy form, and possibly seeing a new brand name as to not dilute either brand.  And no, this would not be a re-skinned IQ.  The very thought…..

So, you read it here first, Lotus to JLR.  And they wouldn’t even have to change the name.