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Old 19th March 2004, 23:30   #1
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Toyota Power For U.S. Elise

Pictured undergoing final tests, Lotus's Toyota-engined Elise is due to be unveiled at the Los Angeles motor show in the last week of 2003. Known as the Federal Elise, insiders say that one of the biggest changes, aside from the 190bhp Celica engine, is the installation of twin airbags.

However, the appearance of this right-hand-drive Celica-engined prototype is bound to lead to speculation that UK and European markets will also be offered the new car alongside the Rover-powered model.

Reports in the US press suggest Lotus has applied for exemptions from US safety standards for the Elise - relating to the bumpers and headlamps - even though it has spent $27m on re-engineering. However, the company told evo that this wasn't without precedent (a similar situation arose with the Esprit) and that it's confident there will be no problems. It seems that the all-new Elise, designed for global markets, will be launched in 2006.

Meanwhile, Proton, owner of Lotus, has recently signed a letter of intent with MV Agusta, the Italian motorcycle manufacturer that has been described by its chairman as the 'Ferrari of the motorcycle world'. Lotus describes the fledgling tie-up as, 'a potentially exciting venture for all concerned'.

Source : Auto Express
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