Lotus Cars is waking up to new owners this week, and potentially a whole new beginning – under Chinese rule.
MAY 26th 2017
Lotus finds a new home with Geely
The giant Chinese automotive group Geely – the company that already owns Volvo – has taken a majority stake in Lotus Cars as part of a deal to rescue the Malaysian car company Proton, which has owned the Hethel-based sports car manufacturer since 1996.
Geely’s chief bean-counter Daniel Donghui Li said: “Reflecting our experience accumulated through Volvo Car’s revitalisation, we also aim to unleash the full potential of Lotus Cars and bring it into a new phase of development by expanding and accelerating the rolling out of new products and technologies.
Despite producing what is generally acknowledged as the best range of cars ever underJean-Marc Gales, Lotus has struggled on the sales front and lacked sufficient investment to get needed new models into development. A Lotus SUV – considered to be a potential money-spinner – is thought to be in the pipeline, ironically in partnership with a different Chinese company.
Industry watchers are saying that if Geely’s excellent reputation and solid results in transforming Volvo’s model line-up and fortunes are repeated in Norfolk, Lotus could be in for the best years of its life.
Bankruptcy, ownership changes and product planning from the non-existent to the madcap have long marked out the very bumpy road that Lotus has travelled since the death of its founder Colin Chapman in 1982.
Since then, and the controversial deal with De Lorean, companies with a stake in Lotus have included British Car Auctions, JCB, Toyota, General Motors and Bugatti in its pre-VW days.
Since 1996 it has been owned by the Malaysian group DRB-Hicom via its Proton car-making business. It is reported that Proton will sell its remaining 49 per cent of Lotus cars, which includes Lotus Engineering.
The deal is expected to be rubber-stamped by July.
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