By on December 3, 2017

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There has been some gentle complaining among select individuals that Chinese ownership will somehow taint the purity of the Lotus brand — a strange accusation considering the brand was operating under the Malaysia-based Proton Holdings since 1997 long before being bought by Geely Automotive earlier this year.

Sure, it might not be the Lotus of yesterday but the company’s new Chinese overwatch has said it still has big plans for the brand. Based on its handling of London Taxi and Volvo, we haven’t been overly concerned. But we have been hoping the parent company would elaborate on what that might entail. 

According to a recent interview Autocar had with Geely President An Cong Hui, Lotus may undergo a return to form (of sorts) in the years to come. “We are making plans; we want to bring back the heritage of Lotus to be one of the top performers in the luxury sports car segment,” he explained. “Lotus used to be ranked alongside Ferrari and Porsche, so we need to come back in that rank again.”

However, things have changed quite a bit over the last decade. Porsche’s best-selling model is a sport utility vehicle and Ferrari is planning on building one of its own — so Lotus will probably need to do the same. Likely based upon the Compact Modular Architecture that underpins Volvo’s XC40 and Lynk & Co’s 01, the Lotus SUV will be optimized for performance but no one at Geely has said anything even remotely official. All we really know is that “something” is in the works.

Lotus will also continue producing pure-bred sports cars and, if the brand’s British leadership has its way, those units will continue being built in the United Kingdom. However, a new car has to be in the works. Lotus’ newest model, the Evora, has been in production since 2010 while the oldest in the current lineup, the Elise, has been around since 1996.

While the Evora still gets heaps of praise from the enthusiast community, it’s not a hot property anymore. The brand will need something fresh to challenge its rivals with eventually and, with new capital coming from China, it’s only a matter of time.

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26 Comments on “What’s Lotus Going to Look Like Under Geely’s Ownership?...”


  • avatar
    Syke

    So what’s the complaint? Given their track record with Volvo, they seem to have enough smarts to allow the brand to keep it’s native essence. What more can you ask for?

    The upside? The concept of a Lotus that is finally designing cars while not worrying about where next week’s payroll is coming from should be an automotive enthusiast’s dream.

    • 0 avatar
      jalop1991

      This.

      If they were smart, they’d just leave things alone, maybe nudge everything and everyone back to the purist’s way, and simply drive truckfuls of cash up to the back door every week to keep it going.

      (Xerox did this back in their hayday, when they started their Palo Alto Research Center. 1970 copier money was limitless, and somehow they stumbled into that particular way of spending some of it. Bob Taylor found the people and took care of them, genius flourished, and the world was changed. See Dealers of Lightning, by Michael Hiltzik, for details.)

      • 0 avatar

        Good times for Xerox ended when they were forced to license technology to Japanese competitors. Now Xerox is mostly Japanese company called FujiXerox regarding printer/copier business. They laid off most of remaining US engineers and moved engineering to India. I will not be surprised if they file to Chapter 11 in future. All American companies do that sooner or later.

        • 0 avatar
          ToddAtlasF1

          Coincidentally, our top business schools have been run by Marxists for decades.

        • 0 avatar
          jalop1991

          I lived the Xerox transition, in field sales, until 5 years ago. Some of those engineers were my best friends. What part of the business are/were you in?

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            There was a big push a few years back to use Indian folks in my industry (mortgages). There were way too many issues with things like broken English, and they failed to grasp common sense stuff that any American would know.

            Example: I had to clean up a mess one of these guys made with a loan for a “director” (i.e., middle manager) at Exxon. They figured anyone with “director” in the title must own the company, and with mortgage loans, people who own the company have to send in the company’s tax returns.

            So…they asked for them. From Exxon. Yes, THE Exxon. You should have seen the emails back and forth on THAT one – stuff like “No, Mr. Michael, borrower is ownership of Exxon so we must do the needful and obtain company tax returns.” I actually had to give him the company’s website address to prove it was publicly owned, and the guy STILL prattled on about “doing the needful,” even after I approved the loan on my own authority. So much comedy.

            The experiment failed MISERABLY, thank God.

            The Next Big Threat in my industry is A.I. We’ll see how that goes.

          • 0 avatar

            I do not work for Xerox but they are our partner. There is some sadness in Webster Xerox people (probably they know that they will be laid off soon too) while their Japanese counterparts are well fed and full of energy.

            Regarding India outsourcing we outsourced to them development of QA application. After half year of travels to and back and spending half of million $$ we god program that did not work properly. For much less we could hire ONE American contractor who would properly write application within a month. But no travel to exotic places unfortunately.

  • avatar
    Fred

    Lotus was developing a SUV under Proton. I suspect it’s being revised to use more Volvo parts than Proton. Moving Lotus upscale is going to be tough, as the lightweight construction doesn’t lend itself well to the ergonomics that the wealthy demand. You still hear the “kit car” comment even with the Evora.

    For me as 65 Elan owner, who would have to sell it and probably a house to buy any new Lotus I’m not overly concerned. Lotus has been going out of business for at least 40 years, so I only have hope that they will survive. Even if it means they make a SUV or two.

    On the other hand I’d like to see them back in competitive racing if not F1 then GT racing. If they wanted to invite me and my old Elan to a party, I’d be happy to come.

    • 0 avatar
      tekdemon

      They’re probably going to have to scrap almost everything they did under Proton, none of that stuff would ever have been competitive. Even more so now that so many countries are putting out regulations against pure ICE powertrains. Eventually I think Geely/Volvo/Lotus/Lynk are all going to be on shared platforms for most of the cars since that’s the only way any of this makes any financial sense, though I can see them using different generations of the platforms at different price points.

      But whatever supercar Lotus comes out with is going to have to be on it’s own platform.

      Either way, I think the first thing everyone in this group needs to work on is a more competitive higher end powertrain. The T6 is just not competitive at this point and seems to be very, very, sensitive to temperatures to the point where some reviewers were getting 7 second 0-60 times in the S90 while others were getting 5.5 on a cool day. It’s fine if you want to go all 4-cylinders but you really have to do it right and the T6 needs work.

  • avatar
    Nick_515

    One always wishes this takeover would be from an established, Western automaker, so that Lotus could benefit the way Chrysler did from Mercedes and now Fiat. Alas, it wasn’t mean to be. My god Hecho en China… it will be horrible.

    S/

    • 0 avatar
      Fred

      GM once owned Lotus, but they gave up.

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      I wouldn’t say Chrysler ever benefited from Mercedes unless it was in a Joan Crawford Mommy Dearest tough love sort of way and that is meant as no insult to the late Miss Crawford.

      • 0 avatar
        MBella

        It’s not like their best vehicle is the Mercedes derived Jeep Grand Cherokee or anything.

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          Actually, despite what people would have you believe, that entire platform was led by Jeep, not Mercedes-Benz. So in fact, the M / GLE and GL / GLS use a Jeep platform, not the other way around.

          The LX cars (Charger, Challenger and 300)…those are Mercedes-Benz derived, though that is limited to stuff like the parts of the floorpan, the suspension, the earlier 5-speed transmission and some of the interior switchgear (albeit cheapened-out versions). But before the advent of the LX cars, Chrysler was actually working on a new LH platform, which (owing to its longitude-engined nature) would accommodate both front and rear-wheel-drive cars, as well as all-wheel-drive ones. After the Merger of Equals, the Daimler heads-up killed that program and then told Chrysler to use existing Mercedes-Benz components in order to save costs…that became the modern LX platform.

          Chrysler has always had its ups-and-downs and has come out okay post-Daimler, but that merger definitely hurt more than it helped. Daimler fired a lot of the Chrysler engineering talent and management.

      • 0 avatar
        tekdemon

        It was sarcasm dude…sarcasm…that’s why he put the S/ at the end, though it’s supposed to be /S. It’s used to denote what the author feels is already heavy and obvious sarcasm.

  • avatar
    jack4x

    An Elise with the twin charged 2.0L out of the S90 would be quite the rocket…

  • avatar

    Are they going to make SUVs? They should if want to survive.

  • avatar
    raph

    I guess the Espirit and now Evora are luxury sports cars but outside of those two I just don’t remember Lotus being anything but a pure sportscar maker?

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Well, they couldn’t use the term “expensive sports cars”, so “luxury” had to do.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        I wouldn’t call them luxurious at all. You had it right with the first description. They are premium performance cars, like an old BMW or Saab. But not luxury cars, not when a base-model compact sedan has more creature comforts. That they slathered leather and suede all over the Evora’s interior doesn’t make it a luxury car. And the purists don’t want them to be luxury cars, either. But then, just relying on the purists—many of whom prefer the older cars anyhow—doesn’t pay the bills. So, yes, expect to see the Lotus badge whored out on a tuned version of Volvo / Lynk & Co’s SPA platform, or something like that.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Well, they couldn’t use the term “expensive sports cars”, so “luxury” had to do.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Why would a CUV shopper be interested in a Lotus-brand vehicle in the first place?

    Plus, even in the super-niche “I want a sports CUV” segment I don’t see how using a FWD-based Volvo platform that was engineered to *only* be able to use a 2.0T is going to do battle with the likes of the Macan, Stelvio, F-Pace, and AMG-trimmed GLC.

    A rich man’s CX-5 wearing a relatively obscure badge isn’t a recipe for success even in a CUV rabid market.

  • avatar
    Joss

    The Europa was no luxury car. You sat with your bum just inches from the ground.

    Geely will probably come up with some twin motor EV SUV with instant torque and no Lotus maintenance.

  • avatar
    Boxerman

    As an owner of an elise and exige the last thing the world needs is another “luxury” gt masquerading as a sportscar. What lotus builds is premium sports cars, in that sense they are the last true authentic sportscar manufacturer left.

    Trying to outdo porche is a fools errand. Lotus should target cayman Gt4 performance, well they already do. Part of the
    Lotus problem is the Evora is really expensive, you pay porche money for one. It’s not particularly light either so it’s quirky choose not a unique proposition.

    The elise and exige sell reasonably because they are unique and offer something no one else except Mazda does, real sports cars. That’s lotus strength they should
    Expand upon that.

    One need only look at the new Renault alpine to see that there is a market below porche pricing for great sports cars, that’s lotus core.

    Then they can build an esprit. But lotus should always be light, that’s part of their DNA and what separates them from the others. Alternatively they’re just another mclaren. Which is not to say they couldn’t or shouldn’t build a higher end car too, but first get the core right.

    An SUV well why not, it pays the bills at porche. But putting fortunes in to developing an SUV makes no sense unti
    The core is right and the “brand” established. Otherwise it’s Bahr all over again, fortunes invested in projects that don’t bear fruit.

    Lotus needs a new elige and something above that.
    Then the suv.

  • avatar
    CincyDavid

    I didn’t know they were still in business…

    I tried to climb into a Lotus Elise one time maybe 10 years ago, had to crawl back out, and would have had to remove my shoes to work the pedals…not my kind of car.

  • avatar
    Asdf

    What’s Lotus going to look like under Geely’s ownership? Easy. It’s going to look like MG under SAIC’s ownership.


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