Lotus Production Could Begin in China, Claims New Owner
Iconic British sportscar manufacturer Lotus may find a portion of its future production shifted to China under the ownership of its new parent company, Geely. Chinese billionaire and Geely chairman Li Shufu confirmed the possibility of some assembly taking place outside the United Kingdom during a press conference following the signing of the deal.
While this could stir outrage in some traditionalists, the Chinese company hasn’t mucked up things with Volvo yet and appears willing to apply a similar hands-off approach to the management of Lotus Cars.
“This is just like what we have done with London Taxi Company, engineer in Britain, design in Britain, [build] in Britain,” Li explained. “We see no reason to move fifty years of combined experience to China — let them do what they do best — in Britain.”
Geely officially acquired a 51 percent stake in Lotus as well as 49.9 percent of Malaysian automaker Proton last week — both were previously majority-owned by Malaysia’s DRB-HICOM. Lotus had been struggling under Malaysian ownership for some time but announced a return to profitability earlier this year, due largely to the success of its Evora 400 and the more hardcore Evora Sport 410.
Lotus currently employs about 750 people in Norfolk. While some of them will continue assembly of the Evora, the automaker also has an updated Elise and Exige in the works. There have also been ruminations of a new crossover vehicle, something Geely is encouraging and plans to send to the U.S. market — along with the rest of the cars.
“Geely is fully committed to revitalizing the Lotus brand which will include new investment and a widened car range,” said Li. Specifying that the brand would benefit from future advancements in electrification and artificial intelligence, with those technologies likely stemming from China. However Mr. Li was unclear on the scope of the hypothetical Chinese production and how it might change the longstanding tradition of U.K. assembly further down the road.
[Source: Bloomberg] [Image: Lotus Cars]
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