The Lotus crystal ball

blog preview owen

My name is Huw Owen, and at Lotus I’m the Director of Future Mobility and Strategic Partnerships. Most of you are hopefully aware of Wembley Stadium, the famous London football ground that’s home to the England team. New apartments are being built close by. They’ve no parking bays and you can’t buy a resident’s parking permit. If you ask the local council, why not – and I have – they tell you that a short walk away is an Underground station and dozens of buses which stop outside it. There are also supermarkets, bars and restaurants. Reading between the lines the council is saying, why would anyone living there want to own a car?

It has a point. Research tells us the tenants will be relatively rich individuals who don’t want to own a car. While the data stops here, it’s not the end of the story. The crucial part is this – having access to a car is part of how these people want to live. In short, they’re rich enough to be potential Lotus customers… but don’t want to own one. The question is, how else can Lotus get them behind the wheel?

This drive for fresh revenue opportunities and new customers is what keeps me awake at night. The answer is a car-sharing model which Lotus doesn’t tap into today. But there’s good news; we are working with partner companies on a number of high-tech digital solutions that will change that. It’s great for us on two levels; firstly, it means we sell cars to the car-share operator. Secondly, if we give the end-users the right Lotus brand experience we hope they will consider us over our competitors when they do want to buy.

Digital services like this rely on us collecting data, and our engineering team is putting in place systems for all future Lotus vehicles to do that. And data is the key; once we have it, we can use it to develop new services for our owners.

Many of these services will be smartphone-based, so why not have a Lotus app to operate as an integrated one-stop shop for everything linked to an individual’s transport needs? That could be booking the Lotus through a car-sharing platform, but then also the aeroplane or train ticket, the taxis to and from the airport or station – even an e-bike if required – to create a simple super-convenient service.

It could even book parking. The number of bays at Hethel is being increased to cope with the rise in employee numbers, and this year we’re looking to trial a system that will digitise it all.

The captured data would help us make the most efficient use of the parking we have, while also provide an interface to incentivised ride-sharing. An on-site trial like that would be proof of concept, allowing us to work with a supplier to offer it externally.

To finish on a Wembley analogy, my goal is to find more opportunities like this.