By on May 24, 2017


China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Company has decided to purchase a 49.9 percent stake in Proton from Malaysian conglomerate DRB-Hicom and a majority share of the United Kingdom’s Lotus Cars.

Geely seems to have an affinity for other manufacturers and eclectic tastes — not just because it has received criticism for modeling its own cars after everything from Roll-Royce to Toyota, but because it also purchased Volvo Cars and the London Taxi Company. This could be extremely good news for Lotus, which always seems to be in a bit of a bind. Whether or not you like the idea of a Chinese company owning distinctively European brands, Geely helped Volvo come back from the brink and has committed to doing the same for Lotus.

“Reflecting our experience accumulated through Volvo Car’s revitalization, we also aim to unleash the full potential of Lotus Cars and bring it into a new phase of development by expanding and accelerating the rolling out of new products and technologies,” stated the company in its official announcement. 

Considering we’ve seen the same lineup from Lotus for what seems like a lifetime, this is exciting news. Everyone likes the Elise, but it’s time to move on after 16 years.

Presumably, Geely’s strategy with the sports car brand will mimic its dealings with Volvo Cars by not being obtrusive. The Chinese company essentially gave the Swedish automaker a wad of cash and told them to keep up the good work. This has resulted in some of the best-received Volvos in recent history and increasing annual sales volume since 2014. If Lotus receives similar supportive parenting and the tools to succeed, there is no telling what it might come out with.

However, what’s good for the goose is also good for the gander. Geely owner Li Shufu has made his intention to own an exceptionally diverse roundup of automakers well known. Owning Lotus ads a performance brand to the mix and ads a level of prestige to the company. There are also opportunities to collaborate with Lotus on Geely models sold within China, which have already seen massive sales gains this year. April deliveries for the core brand were up 94 percent over 2016, and that wasn’t even its best month of 2017.

Geely is also expected to provide Proton with modern vehicle technologies co-developed with Volvo. Investing in the brand could also help it rebound from the sizable losses it has suffered on the global market in recent years. Sources speaking to Automotive News stated the Hong Kong holding company wants to bolster Proton sales in Malaysia, the U.K., India and Australia.

Tian Yongqiu, an independent auto consultant, explained this is all part of Zhejiang Geely’s master plan for world domination — a plan that seems to be in its final phases.

“Geely has almost finished the puzzle for the global market: It has presence in Europe through Volvo, which can also go to the U.S. It must fill in the blank by breaking into Southeast Asia, which is dominated by Japanese small cars,” Tian said. “It’s hard for Geely to break into this market on its own. But with Proton’s factory and massive network, it can be a short cut.”

Geely claims the deal is subject to regulatory approval and the signing of a definitive agreement, but expects acquisitions to be finalized in July.

[Image: Lotus Group]

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25 Comments on “China’s Geely Purchases Lotus, Plans to Restore the Brand’s Lost Luster...”

  • avatar

    Based on what they did for Volvo, I suspect a lot of automakers would welcome new Chinese Overlords.

  • avatar

    The elan is really tiny! While I view old British vehicles as the devil’s spawn, I would sacrifice some portion of sanity to own an elan one day.

    I look forward to the Lotus Beauty Leopardi 2+2!!!

    If Geely would revive the Gordon Keeble, they would have my undying devotion.

    • 0 avatar

      “I would sacrifice some portion of sanity to own an elan one day.”

      You can now. It’s called a Miata.

    • 0 avatar

      If I had the money, I’d set up a small company to build Elans under the new replica laws in the U.S. Body parts (even complete shells) are still being made and Spyder makes a very nice replacement chassis with more modern components including a modern Ford drivetrain. The Elan community seems to have accepted the Spyder chassis as Lotus worthy so it’d still be an Elan.

      An Elan with a 2.0 Liter Ecoboost would be big fun.

  • avatar

    This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang, but a buyout.

    • 0 avatar

      Well then Lotus has died about 4 times already.

      • 0 avatar

        …gee, i guess i can’t dismiss volvo for being chinese anymore!..truthfully, volvo has thrived under geely’s stewardship, and if lotus fares even half so well it’ll mark a sea change since their fortunes under proton, let alone DRB hicom…

        …i’m optimistic for lotus’ future!..

  • avatar

    Perhaps someday far in the future, when people don’t “drive” on roads, there will be many more public tracks and racing country clubs. And Lotus will be one of the last actual car companies in existence, catering to that market. Or perhaps not. :)

    • 0 avatar

      Nice thought

      Given how overwrought heavy and filtered most moderns are, lotus is possible the last real authentic sportscar company left already.

  • avatar

    Being fortunate to own elsie and an exige v6 cup I can expeinece a car that drives and works as it should. After driving a lotus one laments how anodyne isolated and uninetresting most modern sports cars have become to drive. In the quest for use ability and headline speed, whether its porche ferrari or mcalren to name a few, much of the tactile joy and feedback that differentiates a sportscar from a fast sedan like an amg has been lost.

    If Lotus is allowed to do its thing, we may see some truly seminal cars. Reliable modern elegant engineering yet not lacking in the experience that makes older cars such a joy.

    great news.

  • avatar

    I, for one, welcome my new Chinese overlords.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “The Chinese company essentially gave the Swedish automaker a wad of cash and told them to keep up the good work.”

    Despite my early misgivings about Geely’s takeover of Volvo, this approach has worked out well. It’s an approach all overlords should apply to basically healthy companies that they buy.

    Perhaps Lotus can now enjoy a period of stability it hasn’t had for decades.

  • avatar

    Does this mean they won’t be able to continue using Toyota engines?

    • 0 avatar

      I doubt they would keep using V6 Camry motors after joining Geely/Volvo, would be kind of embarrassing if they had to keep using a third party motor over a Volvo/Geely developed motor. So I guess we can look forward to twincharged Lotuses.

      I do have to say that this purchase makes sense. This fully fleshes out Geely into a real full line automaker. Geely/Proton for economy and regular cars, Volvo for luxury cars, and Lotus for sports cars. Really the only thing left is maybe a truck brand, lol. Geely was always relatively ahead of the game amongst the domestic Chinese makes so I think we’ll soon see their attempts to storm the international market.

    • 0 avatar

      The Toyota engines are reworked by Lotus so it’s not an easy change. Maybe newer models?

  • avatar

    I’m not sure that Lotus Cars has ever “lost it’s luster” so much as it needs capital to move to whatever the next level might be.

  • avatar

    Can I ever hope for a Lotus Esprit Submarine?

    RIP Roger Moore.

  • avatar

    Hopefully Geely can get Lotus back on track and much better than before. If they can get Volvo running again, so can Lotus.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    Maybe Saab could be next. Will Volvos now be offered with Lotus Tuned suspension that was on some Isuzu models?

    Volvos new turbo modular engines ought to be a good fit for Lotus.

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