As one of the few people who doesn’t hate the direction Lotus is going in, the news that development of Lotus’ entire lineup has been suspended is disheartening. It seems that the Malaysian government is looking to unload their stake in Proton, parent company of Lotus.
Malaysian takeover laws stipulate a three month “lockdown” on any company that may change hands, ostensibly as part of a “due diligence” period. That means that car production can continue, but Lotus cannot do any real R&D work. CEO Dany Bahar is apparently flying to Kuala Lumpur once a week to keep Proton brass in the loop regarding their five year plan for the British sports car marque.
‘This difficult period for Lotus finishes at the end of March and that’s when we will know then whether DRB-Hicom [which owns 49.7 percent of Lotus -ED] will want to continue with our business plan,’ Bahar admits, ‘I really hope they will but I cannot call it at the moment, it’s still 50:50.’
While we’ll have to wait until the end of March to find out about DRB-Hicom, it will take even more time to see what happens with the sale of the government’s remaining stake in Proton. The launch of the Esprit will now be pushed back to 2013, while the Exige S and Evora GTE are delayed with no time table specified – Lotus already has 400 orders for the Exige S, and a setback like this is the last thing the company needs. Lotus will continue their motorsports and marketing efforts, with a new company store set to open in June on London’s Regent Street (Bahar, after all, helped Ferrari become the branding and marketing powerhouse it currently is under the tutelage of Luca di Montezemolo).