Who's Your Daddy: Lotus Could Gain a New Parent Company as Proton Looks for Partners

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
who s your daddy lotus could gain a new parent company as proton looks for partners

Lotus is waiting to see whose car pulls up to the orphanage, now that its parent company’s owners are looking for someone to take Proton off its hands.

The struggling Malaysian automaker, which bought a majority stake in Lotus in 1996, is being courted by at least three major automakers, Reuters reports.

Proton is controlled by Malaysian conglomerate DRB-Hicom, which bought a majority share in the automaker in 2012. Since then, Proton hasn’t been able to turn itself around. Uncompetitive vehicles prompted year-over year financial losses, forcing the Malaysian government to prop up the flagging company with a $365 million cash injection in April.

DRB posted a $198 million pre-tax loss last year, mainly due to Proton’s poor sales.

Reuters reports that Proton went looking for a suitor earlier this year, issuing 20 partnership letters to would-be parent companies. So far, the automaker has heard back from three. Suzuki Motor Corp., Renault SA, and PSA, maker of Citroën and Peugeot vehicles, have responded.

Proton’s proposal to those automakers isn’t known. The automaker wants another company to buy a stake, but we don’t know what size. Proton owns two under-utilized assembly facilities that would sweeten the pot for an automaker looking to expand its manufacturing footprint in southeast Asia.

Meanwhile, DRB hasn’t ruled out selling its controlling stake, or offloading Lotus to a willing buyer. The famed British sportscar maker is in the midst of a financial turnaround, and could balance its books by next year.

[Image: Lotus Cars]

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  • Eyeflyistheeye Eyeflyistheeye on Sep 27, 2016

    I hope Proton sells off Lotus. The Lotus brand image has fallen sharply since their ownership and they haven't used their expertise one bit in building better cars. The good thing is I doubt Suzuki, Renault or PSA wants to hold on to Lotus if they acquire Proton. Suzuki is a cheapass company, Renault might have their hands full (but would be by far the best of the three for Lotus) and PSA is just looking for a cheap way to get into Asia. Here's who I hope buys Lotus: 1. Isuzu (For purely sentimental reasons. I liked the Elan and Impulse, and it's been rumored Isuzu always wanted to return to passenger car manufacturing) 2. Toyota (They already supply powertrains to them, now just supply build quality! Along with the historical ties, Lotus might just be what Akio needed to inject wakudoki into his lineup) 3. Hyundai (This makes the most sense. Lotus helped engineer the G80 and they can help Hyundai actually build cars that feel good to drive while Hyundai provides reliable powertrains. Not to mention Hyundai would fund the hell out of Lotus to be a world-class company and Genesis/Lotus dealers might help make the Genesis brand credible)

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    • Incautious Incautious on Sep 27, 2016

      As A long time Lotus owner I would have to agree with the Hyundai assessment. Toyota would only muck up and sterilize the brand. Lotus has always survived when times are bleak, let's hope that something good comes out of this.

  • Ccd1 Ccd1 on Sep 27, 2016

    Here is a moon shot: PSA buys Lotus and uses the company in conjunction with Divergent 3D with whom PSA recently signed a letter of intent. Lotus continues to produce cars while being a test bed for 3D printing of cars, which has many benefits, one of which is weight reduction. Now that would be interesting!

  • Bloodnok Bloodnok on Sep 27, 2016

    there have been rumours about apple buying mclaren. lotus would be almost as good a fit for apple (which is to say just as retarded as buying mclaren). better news for lotus fans than another fly-by-night company like proton owning it. or even general motors ....

  • Voyager Voyager on Sep 29, 2016

    Lotus already uses Toyota engines. For the world's #1 car maker it might be a good thing to buy Lotus, and have all of its posh sports cars develop and channel through the Lotus brand. 'Supra' sounds like a sorry label. Lexus is more about saloon cars and SUVs. In the condition Lotus is in right now, there's no raison d'etre. The competition is getting better and stiffer (Renault just relaunched its Alpine brand). It should have gotten onto Porsche territory by now, but it didn't. Don't forget that the mentioned German brand happened to be in dire straits too in the early 90's.