Managing director Peter Barnes is keen to begin retailing the British-built sports cars immediately to capitalize on the launch in July of the Europa model, so the Lotus dealership will initially operate from a temporary home in a business unit.
Its permanent home will be part of an £8m multi-franchise development in Forstal Road. Lipscomb Motors secured planning permission for the site in January, and builder Gallagher Contractors moved on site last month to begin construction.
The completed 1.75-acre dealership, designed by architect Bisset Adams, will include a ten-car showroom which will incorporate Lipscomb’s existing Volvo outlet in nearby Bearsted, a five-car showroom for Lotus, plus another five-car showroom, which is likely to provide a base for a specialist used car dealership as the group expands.
A shared workshop will be laid out to allow one end to be dedicated to Volvo, and the other to Lotus and other marques, with an MoT station in the middle. Barnes says work is progressing ahead of schedule, and he expects retailing to start in October.
He adds: “I’ve had several people say it’s a strange concoction, fitting Lotus beside Volvo. I’ve had a soft spot for Lotus since childhood, and I wanted to get into a specialist area which doesn’t conflict with the Volvo products. If we took in another premium brand like Saab we’d be competing with the brand we already have.
“In any case, people who buy Volvo tend to have spare cash for a fun car, and people who drive a Lotus need a practical car too.”
Lipscomb Motors also has Volvo outlets in Ashford and Canterbury. The Lotus franchise for Kent was previously held by Motorway Sports Cars in Canterbury, which went into receivership last year and was bought by Dutton Forshaw, which dropped the brand.