With that game I'm not sure what happened. From memory, you're probably right. But Ian Bell also wanted to get rid of EA as soon as possible. Soon after it became clear EA wouldn't support the game anymore, SMS began posting on forums about their "C.A.R.S.", which became Project CARS.
I think NFS should focus on cars like M3 E36, Evo V, Skyline R33 GT-R, Impreza WRX 1st gen, Escort Cossie, Eclipse GS-X, 300ZX, RX-7 FC, that is, cars with a large following and tons of options. Also, cars which are historic staples. Bringing back the Countach and the Testarossa (yes, I know the one in TNFS was a 512 TR) was pretty great, but what about an XJ220? A C5 Corvette? Carrera GT?