Thursday, February 16, 2012

New Owners Tell Lotus to Continue Development of Future Models

Lotus Seen On
For a company that hadn’t revealed a brand new car in 12 years until it launched the Evora in 2008, revealing five new models in the same auto show like Lotus did in Paris in 2010, was a ballsy move.

The Proton-owned company said at the time that the concepts previewed its all-new range that is under development. The new Elise, Esprit, Elan and Eterne saloon, as well as a city car, were impressive indeed.

However, the company has been bleeding cash ever since it was acquired by the Malaysian carmaker in 1996. With Proton facing a few problems of its own, such as seeing its share in the local market reduced by almost 50 percent, selling Lotus was a logical option.

Genii Capital, which also owns the Lotus F1 team, and SAIC were among the suitors. Until January 16, that is, when in a surprise move, DRB-Hicom acquired the 42.7 percent stake in Proton held by state-owned Khazanah Nasional Bhd.

The future of Lotus was uncertain. In fact, reports that CEO Danny Bahar was interested in acquiring it from its new owner while also searching for a partner surfaced immediately after the sale.

For the time being, at least, there’s no change on the horizon. In an interview with Autocar magazine, Bahar said that DRB Hicom has told him to go ahead with the development of the new cars.

“We have explained our plants to the new owner and have been told to keep going as we are," Bahar was quoted as saying.

DRB Hicom hasn’t reportedly ruled out selling Lotus eventually, something that Bahar was quick to dismiss.

“To the best of my knowledge, no one is going to buy the company. You’d have to consider the market implications before deciding to sell. Right now we have crazy demand for the latest Exige and the Evora GTE will be homologated in March already has 200 orders.”

Moreover, today Lotus released a teaser about a new model that it will introduce at the Geneva Motor Show. Though it didn’t reveal much, the car that will be unveiled next month could be an open-top version of the Evora – or, perhaps, the all-new Elan which, according to the original plan, was scheduled for launch in 2013.


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