Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, the massive Chinese conglomerate that owns Volvo Cars and a controlling stake in Lotus, wants to turn the British sports car maker into a big deal. Potentially, a deal big enough to give Porsche bouts of anxiety.
That’s what sources with knowledge of Geely’s plans tell Bloomberg. The parent company’s efforts will reportedly include new facilities and assembly plants, funded by a cash injection totalling nearly $2 billion.
Geely wrestled control of Lotus away from Malaysia’s Proton in 2017, buying itself a 51-percent stake in the British brand. That stake might increase, the sources claim.
The report boils down to Geely chairman Li Shufu doing to Lotus what it did to Volvo after its acquisition of the Swedish brand in 2010. Colin Chapman’s baby stands to gain 200 engineers at its Hethel, UK headquarters and assembly facility as a first step in Shufu’s plan. Later, a second assembly plant will spring up, also located in the UK. A new UK design studio, already confirmed by Geely, will be part of the plan.
Lotus’s cash-flush parent wouldn’t go into details when contacted by Bloomberg, stating only that, “Geely is fully committed to restoring Lotus into being a leading global luxury brand.”
Currently, the automaker best known for building cars that ferried Emma Peel and Number 6 (at least in the opening credits) through the late 1960s builds just two vehicles: the Evora range and the outgoing 3-eleven, which isn’t road-legal in the United States. Hardly a dominating presence in the premium sports car market. Still, the brand’s products earn positive reviews, including from ol’ Bark.
For Lotus to make a bigger dent, it needs a bigger presence. That means more models, greater production volume — the whole works. While this report doesn’t mention new models, Lotus’ recently unveiled 10-year plan does. Future models include two new sports cars and an SUV, as no automaker can be without one in this day and age.
With a sport utility in its lineup, CEO Jean-Marc Gales believes little Lotus could boast sales of 10,000 vehicles per year — a six-fold increase from 2017’s tally.
[Image: Lotus Cars]