The last time we heard about Proton, our own Jack Baruth was flying nearly 23,000 miles to go drive a diminutive, Mitsubishi-based Proton hatchback in a Malaysian time-trial series. Proton may be best associated with their Mitsubishi partnership, but the two parties went their separate ways long ago.
In 2012, Volkswagen began research into starting a budget brand in the vein of Datsun and intended rival Dacia, with the aim of having a full lineup ready for sale by 2015. Two years later, the budget brand has hit a budget wall, and that’s only the start.
Another inspiration for wet dreams of easily impressed juvenile car bloggers is dying, is bleeding to death and has a “do not resuscitate” note nailed to the head. Lotus has been given up for dead.
Blogs from autoevolution all the way to our sister pub Autoguide reprint the happy PR fluff that Lotus wants to “boost sales five times by 2015.” With sales crawling along at homeopathetic 1,043 units allegedly produced in 2012, making 5,000 by 2015 doesn’t sound like such a big deal. Trust me, it is if you want to sell them also. By 2015, the Lotus cars will still be sitting on technology that is ripe for the museum, and there is no relief in sight. Only poor car bloggers would be a target group ripe for a 20 year old Lotus – if sold used, preferably with a salvage title. (Read More…)
Timothy Cain’s sales numbers for the UK provide a pretty sobering snapshot of Lotus and its quest for survival. Year-to-date, the brand is dead last in the UK sales rankings, outsold by such luminaries as Perodua, Ssangyong and Proton.
Even now-defunct Saab is handily beating Lotus. In October, 16 Saabs were sold, versus 2 Lotus cars. YTD, 231 Saabs have been sold versus 122 Lotus cars. Time for some drastic action, no?
Ahead of their crucial announcement outlining the future of Proton, parent company DRB-Hicom (also of Lotus fame) has announced that they will partner with Honda, after a long courtship process that involved numerous auto makers.
Uh-oh: Our colleagues and fellow market watchers in Malaysia were waiting and waiting for market data for the month of July, but none arrived. With August about to end, they stared to ask questions. They were told there won’t be any data. No, it wasn’t because Malaysia suddenly is like Europe. In the Old Country, July data traditionally are supplied in September,because Europe is on vacation in August.
No, it was because Proton suddenly refused to supply its data. (Read More…)
Volkswagen chief Martin Winterkorn heaped salt into the open wounds of Europe’s embattled automakers. In light of the drooping demand, Europe could perfectly manage with 10 fewer plants, Winterkorn said in an interview with Germany’s Handelsblatt. However, don’t you’re your breath on Volkswagen shutting down any of its EU assembly lines. Volkswagen stand behind its European sites “without ifs and buts.” What about Sergio Marchionne’s accusations that Volkswagen is waging a brutal price war in Europe? Winterkorn: “Nonsense.” (Read More…)
As you read this, an old friend of mine is probably packing. Who knows, he could already be in the air. He was Volkswagen’s boots on the ground in Malaysia, the many times VW wanted to get its boots on the ground in Malaysia. Last time they tried in 2007, they disrupted Dirk’s retirement and sent him to Kuala Lumpur, where dealers of fake watches greeted him as the old friend he was by that time. German media says, Volkswagen did not give up and they are trying again. (Read More…)
Lotus CEO Dany Bahar’s 14 day suspension is set to expire on Monday. We have no idea what will happen next. He may get the boot, taking his ambitious five-year product plan with him. Or he may not. Putting the pieces together since Lotus was taken over by DRB-Hicom has painted an interesting picture, while still leaving the future of Lotus up in the air.
Lotus is one of those brands that every auto enthusiast loved to lionize, despite (or possibly because of) the fact that it hasn’t made a profit for its owner, Proton, in 15 years. But now things are changing. Lotus itself is in the midst of a makeover, seeking to transition from niche sports- and track-car company to a Ferrari and Porsche-rivaling aspirational brand. Meanwhile, back in Malaysia, its owner, Proton, is undergoing a few changes itself. Having been founded as a state-backed business, Proton may soon be privatized, reports Bloomberg. And as a result, Protons private investors could push for a quick divestment of the firm’s Lotus holdings. One such investor, Gan Eng Peng of HwangDBS Investment Management, tells Bloomberg
It will make sense for them to sell it. Proton and Lotus are not a good fit. They are in different market segments, both in terms of geography and product.