Lotus is now helping its owner Proton to develop a range of cars, Group Lotus CEO Dany Bahar has revealed, but he questioned the scope for further cooperation between the two companies.
Malaysia-based Proton “is getting the benefit [of owning Lotus] for the first time,” according to Bahar. The British marque is helping its owner with several models, including a global city car that will also be developed into the small Lotus revealed at the Paris show last autumn (ABOVE). Bahar says that the new baby hatch will look just like the concept, which he describes as “beautiful” – or it will not happen at all.
Going forward, Bahar believes that a company the size of Lotus cannot develop cars that meet stringent emission and crash regulations on its own. Although it's owned by Proton, Bahar says Lotus' products are too far removed from Proton's models for this to be a real help. He sees a tie-up with, or sale to, another auto maker – perhaps Toyota – as an exit strategy for Proton and the other investors in the plan. Alternatively, the company could be raise money through an IPO.
Lotus is also planning to reapply for a UK regional development loan – which has already been rejected once – to build a new factory at its Hethel headquarters for its Elite and Eterne models, citing the fact that this would create up to 1,000 jobs. If the application fails, the cars will be built by Magna in Austria.