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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It has been uncertain time for Lotus dealers. The Norfolk sports car brand is axing its entire European sales network and rehiring new partners as part of an ambitious relaunch which aims to put Lotus on a par with Aston Martin and Ferrari.

Lotus has a long and glittering history, but the company has shrunk to a fringe player in recent times.

While Porsche has powered ahead to become a sports car juggernaut selling 100,000 cars a year, little Lotus sold 2,745 cars worldwide in the past year and just 577 of those were in the UK.

But a new management team has swept into power, in autumn 2010 announcing ambitious plans to turn Lotus into a world-class player.

Instead of producing just the back-to-basics Elise, associated spin-offs and the Evora, new chief executive Dany Bahar wants to launch a range of five sports cars to take the fight to the supercar aristocracy.

In June 2012 Dany Bahar was dismissed as Group Lotus chief executive by new owners DRB-Hicom following an audit into the running of the company and an unspecified complaint against him.

Aslam Farikullah was appointed new Lotus CEO.

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