Lotus Gets Three Year Reprieve From Owner DRB-Hicom But New Esprit Dead
Final assembly at Lotus’ Hethel plant
DRB-HICOM, which owns the Proton car company in Malaysia and Lotus in the UK, announced at the Jakarta launch of the Proton Preve that the British specialist sports car maker and engineering firm has been “cleaned up” and is proceeding with a three year product plan based on variants of the Elise, Exige and Evora cars, starting with the £52,900 Exige S roadster.
It was thought that the proposed Esprit supercar might survive but now all five of the proposed new Lotus cars former Lotus CEO Dany Bahar introduced with a lot of celebrity glitz at the 2010 Geneva Auto Show are now dead. Lotus, though, appears to be very much alive. It’s still a very small company but it’s produced 80 cars in the first five months of 2013 compared to just 70 in all of 2012. Production at Lotus’ Hethel plant is being increased to 40 cars a month, 85% of them for export.
DRB-HICOM managing director Tan Sri Mohd Khamil Jamil said that Lotus’ financial affairs have been straightened out. “We have cleaned up and we are moving ahead… We are coming out with the variants based on existing products — variants with improved technology, improved performance, improved quality as well as improved costing,” Jamil said.
Autocar says that it has confirmed that DRB-HICOM has already invested over £100 million ($153.5 million USD) keeping Lotus in business. The fact that sales have started to increase convinced Lotus’ owner that it was worth further investment. Those improvements have also apparently been the reason why UK business secretary Vince Cable approved a £10 million investment in Lotus through the Regional Growth Fund, earmarked for jobs, new training and R&D. Financial crisis is nothing new at Lotus. Since the death of founder Colin Chapman, Lotus has changed corporate hands numerous times and was on shaky financial ground more than once during the Chapman era.
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