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Malaysia favourite to build next generation Esprit

Lotus’s workforce has been dealt a blow with the news that production of the new Esprit is set to be moved abroad as the British manufacturer looks to cut costs.

Production of the Vauxhall VX220 two-seater sports car – based on he Elise – will cease at the end of this year and the 400 staff at the company’s Norfolk headquarters were hopeful that the new Esprit supercar would replace this volume product.

But it now appears a move overseas is likely, with Malaysia being favourite – it’s the home of Lotus’s parent company Proton.

“Lotus will continue to manufacture cars and components at its headquarters in Hethel, and has not ruled out opening new additional manufacturing facilities elsewhere,” says a spokesman for the manufacturer.

“The key deciding factors for these additional facilities will be governed by brand, engineering and manufacturing skills, cost base and proximity to market.”

However, the manufacturer has denied reports that it will be forced to make staff redundant, insisting that its strategy is to continue production of the Elise and Exige sports cars along with a new front-engined 2+2 coupe, which will sit between the two.

The new £75,000-plus Esprit is rumoured to be powered by a Mercedes-Benz V8 engine from the SLR McLaren and is due to be launched in late 2007.

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