One of the world’s best-known performance car production facilities – Hethel, the home of Lotus since 1966 – is reopening to the public.
Factory tours of the iconic Norfolk site were paused in November 2017 as the £100 million redevelopment began. With the Emira, the last petrol-powered car from Lotus, now in production in an all-new, state-of-the-art assembly hall, they will restart.
The tour programme has been developed by the experiential team within the recently launched Lotus Advanced Performance division, and will begin on Monday 4 April. The booking platform is live now on www.lotuscars.com.
Simon Lane, Director, Lotus Advanced Performance, commented: “Tours of the Hethel site were part of the Lotus story for many years and hugely popular. We get emails and calls every week with people asking about them but, with all the development work on site, it was not appropriate to have the public here. With the Emira now in production, I’m delighted to announce that the time is right to relaunch the factory tours.”
Guests will arrive and gather in the Retail Centre where refreshments will be available. There they will learn about the ongoing transformation of Lotus, and experience for themselves how all Lotus showrooms will look in the future.
Under the leadership of an expert guide, the story of Lotus at Hethel – past, present and future – will be brought to life. Guests will walk through older sections of the factory where, most recently, the Elise, Exige and Evora were built, before heading into the all-new Emira hall. They will see the new automated elements of the car’s production – a first for Lotus – as well as how much of the process remains ‘hands-on’.
Outside, the walking route will pass the dynamic test areas, including the famous 2.2-mile Hethel test track that has hosted some of the most famous names in the history of motorsport – Jim Clark, Mario Andretti, Emerson Fittipaldi, Ayrton Senna and countless others.
The Hethel factory tours will run Monday to Thursday every week, with tour groups consisting of up to eight people. There will be two groups per day with starts at 10am and 2pm, with each tour lasting approximately two hours.
On selected days there is the option to upgrade to a Heritage Tour, which includes a visit to Classic Team Lotus. A separate business situated just across the road from the main Lotus facility, it’s run by Clive Chapman – the son of Lotus founder, Colin Chapman – and includes countless historic Lotus race cars.
Minimum age for guests on all tours is 10 years and all under 18s must be accompanied by an adult, with not more than two children per adult. All elements are fully accessible to wheelchair users, and all guests will receive a specially designed lanyard and pin badge as a memento of their trip to Hethel. No photography will be allowed.
The Lotus Factory Tour is priced £95 per person and the Lotus Factory & Heritage Tour is £140 per person.