Lotus development plan delayed by Proton sale

Lotus development plan delayed by Proton sale

08/03/2012 in

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Lotus development plan delayed by Proton sale

Plans to develop new Lotus models could be delayed following the Malaysian government’s decision to sell its 42.7% stake in Proton to automotive manufacturer DRB-Hicom for £261 million.

DRB has bought a further 7% in Proton taking its stake to 49.7%.

Lotus chief executive Dany Bahar admitted to performance car magazine Evo he was “taken aback” by the announcement by the Malaysian government and product development would be put on hold.

DRB is currently in a due diligence window and it is yet to decide if it will retain Lotus as part of its Proton acquisition or sell it off.

DRB-Hicom group managing director Muhammad Khamil Jamil has already said he will consider selling Lotus as it looks to boost Proton’s financial performance.

Lotus axed its entire European sales network last year and rehired new partners as part of an ambitious relaunch which aims to put Lotus on a par with Aston Martin and Ferrari.

The proposed new Lotus sports car line-up and when they were supposed to be introduced to the market:

What: Mid-engined V8 supercar
Key rival: Ferrari 458 Italia
When: March 2013

What: Front-engined V8 2+2
Key rival Ferrari California
When October 2013

What: Supermini built with Proton
Key rival: Aston Martin Cygnet
When: Spring 2014

What: Repeat of today’s two-seat roadster
Key rival: Porsche Boxster
When: 2015

What: Four-seater four-door
Key rival: Aston Martin Rapide
When: 2015

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With a £100 million investment from its new management, DRB Hi-Com, to fund new models, a £10 million government grant for training and Jean-Marc Gales as the new chief executive officer, Lotus has a lot invested in its future success.

UK sales don't tell the whole story as it's a global brand, but the remaining 11 dealers will be wanting something to shout about to boost sales beyond the 235 sold last year, a fall of 8%.

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