Chinese manufacturer Geely will ‘unleash the full potential of Lotus’ following a deal seeing the purchase of stake in Proton and Lotus Advanced Engineering.
Geely, the Chinese car manufacturer that currently owns Volvo and the London Taxi Company, has announced a recent deal to take a 51 percent stake of British sportscar manufacturer and engineering firm Lotus. The company’s Chief Financial Officer Daniel Donghui Li claims that it wants to ‘unleash the full potential of Lotus Cars’.
But this is just part of a larger deal to acquire a 49.9 percent stake in Proton, the struggling Malaysian company currently owned by DRB-HICOM. Geely plans to make the most of the Proton deal, which will help the huge company launch and build its affordable cars into countries like Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia without the trade tariffs currently in place for Chinese-built products.
Lotus’s ownership history is an interesting one. Following financial difficulties in the early 1980s, a brief fling with Toyota and the introduction of several high-profile investors, General Motors stepped in during 1986 to take a majority stake in the British company. GM sold in 1993 to Romano Artioli – the Italian businessman who also owned Bugatti at the time – who sold to current owner, Proton, in 1996.
Although Lotus has been struggling with its aging sportscar range – selling just 1584 cars last year – the company has a lot to offer from its engineering and lightweight composite technology business. Geely says that it will use knowledge learned from its time revitalising Volvo to bring Lotus ‘into a new phase of development by expanding and accelerating the rolling out of new products and technologies’.
While the two companies have reached an agreement in principle, the final paperwork is expected to be signed in July, following regulatory approval.