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Sports cars from small series manufacturers: are the exotic cars dying out now?

Hans-Dieter Seufert
Sports cars from small series manufacturers
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E s ends where it all began: Klaus Dieter Frers, head of the automotive supplier Paragon, is buying back the Artega production halls - the sports car project that he himself initiated in 2006, and which most recently passed through various investors' hands. In July 2012, the company filed for bankruptcy - and not the only one.

Gumpert and Melkus are insolvent

The German sports car specialists Gumpert and Melkus are also currently insolvent, Lola is in Great Britain failed in the search for investors and has to lock up. But even with a financially strong investor in the cross, it becomes difficult, because they are often not aware of how difficult the market for exotic sports cars or even completely new brands has become.

At TVR, for example, the millions of Russian millionaire Victor were of use Smolenski just as little as with Artega the money of the Mexican brewery billionaire María Asun ción Aram buruz a bala. Why? “The group of buyers for a niche vehicle under 100,000 euros is practically no longer available , explains Michael Düchting, owner of the general agency for Donkervoort. The Dutch company has left this segment and is currently homologating the new D8 GTO sports car for European approval.

Donkervoort also earns with services

How can the small-series manufacturer afford that? ' We have around 1,000 existing customers. With driver training, maintenance and repairs, money comes into the coffers , says Düchting. The D8 GTO plays in a different league than the previous models of the Dutch, should accelerate from zero to 100 km /h in 2.8 seconds - and cost at least 150,000 euros. Is that enough to find enough solvent customers? Especially since Donkervoort does not operate globally.

Gumpert fails, Wiesmann still produces

For example, the failure of Gumpert on the Chinese market ultimately led to the end, to the realization of the together with the Italian bodywork manufacturer Touring initiated the sports car project Tornante, it no longer came. At Wiesmann, on the other hand, production is still running, although the 200-unit mark cannot be cracked this year either. ' We have set ourselves this goal for 2013 ' , says Jan Molitor, Marketing Manager at Wiesmann. Whythat has not yet worked? Molitor: ' When we started building sports cars 25 years ago, there were many more gaps in the offerings of the volume manufacturers. Today, interested parties can also find interesting offers there.

Nevertheless, Molitor believes that Wiesmann can continue to grow, albeit on a modest scale, ' After all, we are now one of the established brands. However, there is still a long way to go before the factory, which was inaugurated in 2008, reaches its maximum capacity of 300 vehicles per year.

KTM builds sports cars for enthusiasts

KTM has long since abandoned the original plan to build around 2,000 sports cars per year, but has now found enough enthusiasts to be able to live in the niche. And at Morgan, bizarre roadsters continue to roll out of the halls, cautiously further developed and well marketed with the help of the dazzling history.

Lotus drives offside

Lotus is certainly not lacking in tradition and image , even a solvent owner - the Malaysian vehicle manufacturer DRB Hicom - exists. Nevertheless, the production lines are currently at a standstill, all investments have stopped. Only the salaries of the permanent employees are still paid. Otherwise, £ 207million is squeezing the company, with a monthly interest charge of £ 800,000. For a while, even the post could not be sent because the corresponding service providers were not paid - the same applies to the suppliers. The new workshop is still empty and development of the five new models has been stopped. The associated, very ambitious business plan of the fired CEO Dany Bahar was sidelined because too much money was invested in marketing vehicles that did not exist.

The Elise, Exige and Evora models were very available reached a maturity through the last model maintenance measures that could have made stable sales possible. Now it looks like DRB wants to sell Hicom Lotus as quickly as possible instead of facing the challenge of reviving the brand.

Because there will still be sports car customers for individual, technically solid and properly marketed products - but they'll notice when they're being kidnapped.


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