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.
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.
In 2012, Volkswagen began research into starting a budget brand in the vein of Datsun and intended rival Dacia, with the aim of having a full lineup ready for sale by 2015. Two years later, the budget brand has hit a budget wall, and that’s only the start.
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.
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.
Volkswagen chief Martin Winterkorn heaped salt into the open wounds of Europe’s embattled automakers. In light of the drooping demand, Europe could perfectly manage with 10 fewer plants, Winterkorn said in an interview with Germany’s Handelsblatt. However, don’t you’re your breath on Volkswagen shutting down any of its EU assembly lines. Volkswagen stand behind its European sites “without ifs and buts.” What about Sergio Marchionne’s accusations that Volkswagen is waging a brutal price war in Europe? Winterkorn: “Nonsense.”
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.
Lotus is one of those brands that every auto enthusiast loved to lionize, despite (or possibly because of) the fact that it hasn’t made a profit for its owner, Proton, in 15 years. But now things are changing. Lotus itself is in the midst of a makeover, seeking to transition from niche sports- and track-car company to a Ferrari and Porsche-rivaling aspirational brand. Meanwhile, back in Malaysia, its owner, Proton, is undergoing a few changes itself. Having been founded as a state-backed business, Proton may soon be privatized, reports Bloomberg. And as a result, Protons private investors could push for a quick divestment of the firm’s Lotus holdings. One such investor, Gan Eng Peng of HwangDBS Investment Management, tells Bloomberg
It will make sense for them to sell it. Proton and Lotus are not a good fit. They are in different market segments, both in terms of geography and product.
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.
Having recently hooked up with firms like BYD and Suzuki, Volkswagen is continuing its rampage across the developing world’s markets, as Reuters reports that the VW’s leadership is in talks with the Malaysian state-owned (42 percent) automaker Proton. VW had previously sought an alliance with Proton, but talks broke off without an agreement in 2007. According to Bloomberg BusinessWeek, VW is not likely to take a stake in Proton despite last year’s policy shift by the Malaysian government allowing foreign firms to own majority stakes in mainstream Malaysian automakers. Proton was founded as a joint venture between the Malaysian state-owned firm Khazanah Nasional Berhad, and Mitsubishi.
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