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.
The struggling Malaysian automaker, which bought a majority stake in Lotus in 1996, is being courted by at least three major automakers, Reuters reports.
The Paris Five. All aborted
Another inspiration for wet dreams of easily impressed juvenile car bloggers is dying, is bleeding to death and has a “do not resuscitate” note nailed to the head. Lotus has been given up for dead.
Blogs from autoevolution all the way to our sister pub Autoguide reprint the happy PR fluff that Lotus wants to “boost sales five times by 2015.” With sales crawling along at homeopathetic 1,043 units allegedly produced in 2012, making 5,000 by 2015 doesn’t sound like such a big deal. Trust me, it is if you want to sell them also. By 2015, the Lotus cars will still be sitting on technology that is ripe for the museum, and there is no relief in sight. Only poor car bloggers would be a target group ripe for a 20 year old Lotus – if sold used, preferably with a salvage title.
A massage parlour and a car wash outlet in the Sunway Mentari suburb of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, engaged in a flourishing joint venture until it was disrupted by police last week. After nine car washes, customers received a free detailing – but not of the car.
Uh-oh: Our colleagues and fellow market watchers in Malaysia were waiting and waiting for market data for the month of July, but none arrived. With August about to end, they stared to ask questions. They were told there won’t be any data. No, it wasn’t because Malaysia suddenly is like Europe. In the Old Country, July data traditionally are supplied in September, because Europe is on vacation in August.
No, it was because Proton suddenly refused to supply its data.
As you read this, an old friend of mine is probably packing. Who knows, he could already be in the air. He was Volkswagen’s boots on the ground in Malaysia, the many times VW wanted to get its boots on the ground in Malaysia. Last time they tried in 2007, they disrupted Dirk’s retirement and sent him to Kuala Lumpur, where dealers of fake watches greeted him as the old friend he was by that time. German media says, Volkswagen did not give up and they are trying again.
Lotus CEO Dany Bahar’s 14 day suspension is set to expire on Monday. We have no idea what will happen next. He may get the boot, taking his ambitious five-year product plan with him. Or he may not. Putting the pieces together since Lotus was taken over by DRB-Hicom has painted an interesting picture, while still leaving the future of Lotus up in the air.
Sure, Internet video is mostly about dental-fetish porn (particularly the very stimulating “spit sink” subgenre), but when the novocaine wears off and the last vinyl-clad hygienist has put aside her last stainless-steel scraper, you’re ready to explore the other great thing about Internet video… old television ads for the Citroën AX.
Volkswagen had been trying for ages to get their foot in the door in Malaysia, but for some reason or another, it never worked out. In August, they signed a memorandum of understanding with DRB-HICOM. In September, it became known that the Malaysian government is evaluating applications from five foreign automakers, which put Volkswagen’s Malaysian move in question again. But fear not, the deal is done.
Putting Brazil aside for a second (Sorry, Marcello!) Asia is where the car industry is looking for their next piece of pie. There’s Russia (let’s face it, Russia is more in Asia that it is in Europe), China, Japan and India. All markets with either big potential and/or plenty of customers. But there is a 5th place which always gets overlooked. South East Asia. Countries like Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore are growing just as well, as the aforementioned countries, but never get the same attention. Well, someone has noticed their potential.
Malaysia is a country of close to 30m people and Volkswagen wants a slice of the pie. They already tried, but found out that getting a slice is not a piece of cake. Playing footise with Malysia’s Proton was a perennial on again, off again affair that led to nothing. Last time, it looked like VW would set up a CKD operation in Malaysia by themselves, but now it seems that they have found a partner. Not Proton. Not again.
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