The story of Lotus Cars ebbs and flows like a river running through a gorge. Lotus are renowned for their technical capabilities which are outsourced to automotive companies the world over. And of course Lotus have a rich F1 history with only Ferrari and McLaren standing above them in terms of championships won. In addition Lotus are also known for making lightweight supercars a mantra formulated by its legendary founder Colin Chapman.
Lotus have always struggled financially but somehow survived it should have folded years ago but that rich history and know how is an irresistible lure to well healed car manufactures. Proton, a Malaysian car maker, has owned Lotus since 1996.
Today it was announced that Geely Holding, the Chinese owners of Volvo, have acquired a significant controlling stake in Proton and, by proxy, Lotus. Proton is struggling and has been looking for foreign investment for a number of months and has been seeking to off-load Lotus.
Proton is effectively state owned and was established to give Malaysia a foothold into industrialised capital markets and was and is still seen a a bell weather for economic growth and prosperity.
For Lotus that means the company is now effectively under Chinese ownership. Geely didn’t waste any time in confirming Lotus will see a period of investment and expansion.
Geely will also want to utilise Lotus’s engineering pedigree to fine tune Geely made cars and that could filter down to a Volvo sportscar. But Geely will have their hands full with turning around Proton.
Proton has a poor product inventory and quality has declined in recent years, the company has two production facilities in Malaysia with a capacity to produce 350k cars per year. Geely could propel Proton forward by using Volvo based technology.
Geely’s investment in Proton will give them access to the growing South East Asia market which already has other Chinese and Japanese car manufactures battling for dominance in the region.