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May 5, 2022

Lotus Opens New State-Of-The-Art Production Center

Lotus has officially opened its new sports car manufacturing facility at Hethel in the United Kingdom, naming it in honor of the company’s founder and inspiration.

The Chapman Production Centre is a world-class center of excellence that is already building the Emira, the last petrol-powered car from Lotus.

Together with Lotus Advanced Structures (LAS), Lotus’ new sub-assembly facility in Norwich, the Chapman Production Centre is part of a £100 million (P 6.5 billion) investment by Lotus in the UK. It is also an investment in the skills and passion of the Lotus team, which has more than doubled since 2017 when Geely became the majority shareholder.

Lotus has recruited new staff across all areas of the business including skilled manufacturing operatives, engineers, and technicians. In vehicle assembly and production operations specifically, 300 new staff have joined the company. Through the new Lotus Learning Academy, based at LAS, all recruits have been trained in the high-quality manufacturing operations they need to begin their career at Lotus.

The new Chapman Production Centre is one of the most advanced low-volume automotive manufacturing facilities in the world and has the capacity to build around 5,000 cars a year. The all-new paint shop is a state-of-the art facility that uses automation to apply primer, color, and clearcoat, ensuring an exceptionally high-quality finish, a high through-put of vehicles and perfect repeatability. The new Lotus system is highly efficient: dry filtration uses 60 percent less energy than a wet system, while an electrostatic primer on body panels will reduce paint usage by 30 to 40 percent compared to the previous hand-sprayed process. All Lotus sports car operations at Hethel and in Norwich are powered by 100 percent renewable electricity.

The buildings which housed the previous Lotus assembly lines have been converted to sub-assembly. They are now home to the all-new framing line which builds the car bodies as part of Emira pre-production, with robots applying bonding agent to the sides, roof and cantrails.

All-new Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) ensure the highly efficient movement of cars-in-build on set routes around the factory, allowing operations teams to focus on assembling the vehicles. By using AGVs, Lotus has future-proofed its sports car manufacturing system as changes can be made quickly and easily to accommodate different manufacturing processes as new vehicle models are introduced.

The main assembly line also includes Wheel Alignment and Headlamp Aim (WAHA) equipment, a Vehicle Configuration and Test System (VCaTS), monsoon water test booth, rolling road and fuel fill area.

Adjacent to the Chapman Production Centre is a new validation track where all production cars are tested as part of the quality assurance process. This dynamic test facility is a key element of the vehicle sign-off, one of many such processes ensuring visual the highest quality.

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