LONDON -- Lotus Cars will add a roadster version of the Evora 400 six months after it launches the coupe in the U.S. in December, its CEO said.
Demand for the open-topped model likely will match that for the coupe, with each expected to sell around 500 a year in the U.S., Jean-Marc Gales told Automotive News at the recent Goodwood Festival of Speed in England.
"The roadster is the quintessential U.S. car," he said. "We are betting heavily on Florida and California with it."
The revamped Evora 400 marks the British brand's return to the U.S. after Lotus was forced to withdraw its sole model after the 2014 model year for failing to meet U.S. safety regulations requiring smart airbags, which detect when a passenger is buckled in. The 400 is now compliant, and includes other modifications such as an increase in power for the Toyota-sourced 3.5-liter supercharged V-6 engine to 400 hp, up from 345 hp.
The new roadster will feature a two-piece Targa carbon fiber roof that can be stowed manually behind the front seats, Gales said.
Lotus' biggest year for sales in the U.S. came in 2005, when it sold around 2,000 cars, mainly its entry-level model, the Elise two-seater. Gales declined to say whether he plans to reintroduce that model, which is still sold in other global markets.
Gales said the next model to come to the U.S. will be a "lighter, faster" version of the Evora 400.