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Hundreds of Lotus Emiras are sitting at dealer lots because they haven’t met U.S. emissions standards

Lotus said it has met CARB's conditions, but the long-awaited cars must get approval, which can take a while.

Image: Lotus

Lotus had a record sales year in 2023, but the brand still only shipped a fraction of the vehicles that many others did. Issues with the California Air Resources Board (CARB) aren’t helping its cause, as the British automaker has hundreds of its new Emira lightweight sports cars sitting in storage awaiting emissions certification. 

Automotive News reported that the automaker can’t sell the car in any state until it passes CARB requirements. The concern is that a customer who buys a used Emira in a non-CARB state might not be able to register it in a state that shares California’s strict emissions rules, a list that currently includes 14 states.

A spokesperson told the publication that Lotus had completed the software updates and road tests required for certification, so it’s just a matter of getting CARB approval at this point. The process can take up to 90 days, but approval can’t come soon enough for customers and dealers.

Lotus’ 42 U.S. dealers finance the cars they offer, which is known as floor planning. With interest rates at extremely elevated levels, holding inventory is a costly endeavor. Additionally, some customers aren’t quite feeling the Lotus love, as the automaker has emailed them to say the cars have been built and shipped, but it has given no dates or delivery information. The automaker did say it would reimburse dealers’ costs, so there’s at least a little consolation for the brand’s franchises.

The almost $100,000 Emira is an important vehicle for Lotus, as it’s the successor for many of the brand’s most iconic cars: The Elise, Evora, and Exige. It comes with a 400-horsepower supercharged 3.5-liter V6 sourced from Toyota or a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder from Mercedes-AMG.

Our Founder, Gabe Carey, and Editor-in-Chief, Jeric Jaleco, recently discussed their thoughts on the Lotus Emira – specifically calling out its absence from the road – on the Acceleramota podcast Car Meet, available on both Apple Podcasts and Spotify.


Chris Teague
the authorChris Teague