By on February 21, 2017

2016 Lotus Evora 400

There’s a battle brewing between France and China over a famous Malaysian-owned British automaker. Who said globalization was in danger?

Geely, Volvo’s Chinese parent company, is in talks to buy Proton, the Malaysian owner of the famed Lotus brand, the Financial Times reports. Proton’s not doing well these days, all thanks to an influx of affordable imports that has eroded its domestic market share. To reach its goal, Geely must first stave off stiff competition from Europe.

France’s PSA Group, maker of Peugeot and Citroën (and potential future owner of Opel and Vauxhall), also wants to get its hands on Proton. However, it looks like the competing automakers want different things from the deal.

Either automaker could submit a bid at any time, FT claims.

Renault has reportedly dropped out of the running to buy Proton, which is owned by DRB-Hicom, a Kuala Lumpur-listed conglomerate. The parent company needs help building more competitive cars under the Proton brand. Of course, purchasing the company would also net the buyer Lotus — a storied sports car company that is struggling to return to profitability.

Geely seems primarily interested in Proton’s huge Malaysian factory, which would allow it to produce up to 600,000 right-hand-drive vehicles per year. The automaker’s Chinese facility only makes left-hand-drive vehicles, and Proton could give Geely access to the large Southeast Asian market. PSA, which has just begun selling vehicles in the region, wants the same market penetration.

However, Geely’s interest in Proton could be limited. According to a source that spoke to Malaysian media outlet The Star Online, the Chinese automaker might just want Lotus.

“Proton is of no use to Geely,” the source claimed. “It wants Proton because of the auto technology in Lotus. And for PSA, which is strong in sport-utility vehicles (SUVs), it is not keen on Lotus.”

Reportedly, the French automaker wants to build its own plant in the country. “PSA is a latecomer in this region,” the source stated. “Now it sees the opportunity to penetrate the Asean market of 600 million people by using Malaysia as a base to export its vehicles tax-free to any of the 10 Asean members.”

Should it gain a majority stake in Proton, PSA plans to move the automaker’s Shah Alam plant to its under-utilized plant in Proton City. It also plants to build SUVs for the Southeast Asian market.

[Image: Lotus Cars]

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11 Comments on “Volvo Owner and PSA in Race to Snap up Lotus, Parent Company, or Both...”

  • avatar

    Well Geely has done well with Volvo, so why not.

  • avatar

    Lotus and PSA (Prostate-specific antigen). We all know that sports cars enhance plumbing.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Proton had two fantastic now discontinued cars in Australia. The tiny Jumbuck ute and the Lotus tuned Satria.

    I think Proton still has a few vehicles on offer.

    The Satria GTi was a well balanced and fast hatch for its time and had a strong niche following.

    From memory Lotus was heavily involved in the Satrias design.

    Proton also had strong links with Mitsubishi, similar to a degree with PSA.

    I think PSA will benefit more than Geely from Proton.

    Imagine a PSA-Opel-Lotus small car.

  • avatar

    @Big Al from Oz
    Would not call them fantastic. Proton, is a bit like the Chinese makers. Hope PSA get into the region.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      No RobertRyan,
      The Jumbuck ute filled a niche for those after a tiny ute the size of a Corolla.

      The Satria was very much a drivers car.

      They ran Mitsubishi drivetrains, which worked well enough for the price of the vehicles.

      • 0 avatar

        @Big Al from Oz
        But we’re far from successful, leading to their demise on the local market

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          Um RobertRyan,
          Over a period of time you’ve make erroneous comments regarding the Australian market.

          Are you Australian? It appears not.

          Protons are still available in Australia.

          Go back to one of your American, British or Canadian tags. Stop trolling.

          • 0 avatar

            “Over a period of time you’ve make erroneous comments regarding the Australian market.”

            At least he confines his erroneous comments to a market he is familiar with!

  • avatar

    …i’m always confused by the relationship between DRB-hicom, proton, and malaysian politics, but i understood that the former had taken direct control of lotus, rather allowing proton to continue calling the shots, after the whole bahar-pump-and-dump debacle…

  • avatar

    Lotus could mean to Peugeot what Alpine means to Renault. Transfer production to France, needed anyway because of Brexit, and Peugeot may strike a great deal.

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