Yes UK sales YTD are down, much because production of the Elise/Exige range with the 1.8 engine was stopped in january, and all Elise production for the UK market has been with the 1.6 this year.
However more cars were sold in this October than last in the UK. Premium brands like Land Rover (up 63%), Maserati (up 33%), Mercedes-Benz (up 19%) all performed better than last year. Porsche were down 9% (599 units to 546) but compared to Lotus's drop 93% (61 to 4) would frankly be nothing to worry about. The results are particularly poor given how much GL are spending on marketing at the moment.
In 2011 so far Lotus have sold 281 cars in the UK - compared to 448 up until October 2011 - a 37% drop which has been accelerating through the year.
As for the figures in both September and October, don't confuse registrations and actual sales. Yes, UK registrations in both months are way down, but in August the factory had it's annual shutdown so wasn't producing any cars for delivery in September. Then in September the MY12 models of both the Evora, new Elise S with a new 220hp supercharged 1.8 and the 350hp supercharged Exige S were announced. Naturally most customers now signing contracts want to wait for the MY12 cars, and since delivieries of these won't start until january, it means that UK registrations for the rest of the year is expected to be low. As for the actual current sales however, word has it that numbers of signed contracts since the Frankfurt show sales so are strong with especially the entire 2012 UK allocation of the Exige S being nearly sold out already.
Since the factory now is hard at work with getting these new cars into production, what is the factory actually making these days then, you might wonder?
Well, one bit that should keep them busy is that Lotus opened it's first showroom in China earlier this week, and even before the opening they have presold more than 300 cars, of which more than 100 are of the Evora GTE which comes in at about £120.000 a piece.
More here: Lotus opens first showroom in Beijing
The funny thing about that Autocar article is that those comments are taken from the "New era - one year on" media event held at Hethel in mid June, so not reallyt that recent, but Autocar only pulled them out to make a story when the September registration figures came out (most likely not asking anyone at Lotus to comment or explain about the factory shutdown as explained above). The point he makes is however that while most activities in the first year of the "New era" plan have focused on building brand awareness and exitement about the future cars, they have silently also been improving the current Evora, Elise and Exige into the the MY12 models and with the launch of these they are now ready to spend much more of their markerting and sales effort on these going forward.
It brings into context comments made by Karl-Heinz Kalbfell recently, too.