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AM Online

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:

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

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

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

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

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



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