Slowly but surely, it looks as though Lotus is clawing its way back to a stable position. The company posted a 55 percent increase in sales for the 2014/15 financial year, with 36 new dealerships established within that same time period. Now, it appears as though Lotus is looking to expand into new markets with a joint venture company that will build and sell Lotus models in China. 

The venture sees Proton Holdings Berhad, the ultimate holding company of Lotus Group, joining with Lotus Group International Limited and Goldstar Heavy Industrial Co. Ltd. in a collaborative effort to bring Lotus cars to market in the People’s Republic of China, leveraging incentives put forth by the Fujian Provincial Government. 

“The automotive market in China is the single largest in the world today, and is still growing, therefore it is only natural for an established iconic company like Lotus to embark upon the possibility of expansion, venture into the market and seek the available opportunities, in light of the keen interest shown by the many inquiries received thus far,” said Dato’ Abdul Harith Abdullah, Chief Executive Officer of Proton, in a recent press release. “It is very difficult to ignore the market and Lotus will fill the gap in providing a lifestyle alternative to the growing demands of the affluent and market conscious local community.”

The press release goes on to state, “Lotus will continue to manufacture its current range of Lotus sports cars (Evora, Exige and Elise) exclusively at its HQ in Hethel, England.”

Continue reading to learn more about the Lotus And Proton joint venture.

Why it matters

It’s great to see Lotus come back from the brink after a rough couple of years that nearly put it under. What’s more, this new joint venture could indicate a change in direction for the automaker. If Lotus does well in China, we could see future models tailored to meet the demands of that particular market. 

Personally, as long as the cars remain simple and with nothing added but lightness, I’ll be happy. By the way, that means no SUVs or crossovers (please). Unfortunately, one look at the popularity of these body styles suggests such wishes will probably go unfulfilled. But I guess if that means Lotus stays out of trouble and we can still buy updated examples of the classic British sports car formula, I suppose it’s all for the best. 

Lotus Evora 400

2016 Lotus Evora 400 Exterior
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Newly redesigned for sale in the U.S., the Lotus Evora 400 first dropped cover at Geneva this year. The car is slated to arrive on these shores as a 2016 model, and proves the automaker has what it takes to stay relevant and flexible when meeting the demands and regulations of foreign markets. The Evora 400 is Lotus’ Alfa and Porsche fighter, which means the two-door coupe comes with a Toyota-sourced 3.5-liter V-6 producing 400 horsepower and 302 pound-feet of torque that enables a 0-to-60 run in 4.1 seconds and a top speed of 186 mph.

Read our full review here.

Press Release

PROTON Holdings Berhad (“PROTON”) the ultimate holding company of Lotus Group, announced that it has signed a Joint Venture (“JV”) Agreement with Lotus Group International Limited, United Kingdom (“Lotus Group”) and Goldstar Heavy Industrial Co. Ltd. (“Goldstar”) for a possible business expansion of Lotus cars in the People’s Republic of China.

The exchange of documents cementing the partnership between PROTON, Lotus and Goldstar. Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Chairman of PROTON (third from left), Dato’ Abdul Harith Abdullah, Chief Executive Officer of PROTON (fourth from right), Jean-Marc Gales, Chief Executive Officer, Group Lotus plc (third from right)

The collaboration seeks to accelerate the development of Lotus cars in the premium sports segment in China, leveraging on the incentives offered by the Fujian Provincial Government. Both PROTON and Lotus Group are subsidiaries of DRB-HICOM Berhad.

Signing on behalf of PROTON was the Honourable Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Chairman of PROTON and former Prime Minister of Malaysia and witnessed by Dato’ Abdul Harith Abdullah, Chief Executive Officer of PROTON. Signing on behalf of Lotus Group International Limited, United Kingdom was Jean-Marc Gales, Chief Executive Officer and witnessed by Mr Rohime Shafie, Director of Lotus Group and Chief Financial Officer of PROTON; and signing on behalf of Goldstar was Mr Zheng Qianghui, Chairman of Goldstar and witnessed by Mr Zhai Wenliang, President of Goldstar.

Dato’ Abdul Harith Abdullah said “The JV Agreement will see the establishment of a new JV Company for the purpose of undertaking research and development (R&D) activities in the use of efficient and advanced technology. The JV Company will then produce and sell Lotus branded passenger cars as well as provide after sales services in connection with its products in the People’s Republic of China.

“The automotive market in China is the single largest in the world today, and is still growing, therefore it is only natural for an established iconic company like Lotus to embark upon the possibility of expansion, venture into the market and seek the available opportunities, in light of the keen interest shown by the many enquiries received thus far. It is very difficult to ignore the market and Lotus will fill the gap in providing a lifestyle alternative to the growing demands of the affluent and market conscious local community,” Dato’ Harith added.

"On April 7, 2015, Lotus announced 55% increase in car sales for its 2014/15 financial year, compared to the previous year with 36 new dealers appointed during the period 2014/15. And China has appeared to be the top key growth market for Lotus exports and is expected to grow at a very fast rate. Lotus Group is excited about the opportunities of this new Joint Venture," Jean-Marc Gales commented further.

Chairman of DRB-HICOM Group, Dato’ Syed Mohamad Syed Murtaza (seventh from left) was present with Board and Senior Management of PROTON together with Lotus and Goldstar to witness the historical occasion.

Lotus will continue to manufacture its current range of Lotus sports cars (Evora, Exige and Elise) exclusively at its HQ in Hethel, England.

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