Lotus Production Facility Expected To Begin Construction Later This Year
Facility will eventually be the production home of the future Lotus SUVby Kirby Garlitos, on
Lotus’ plan to build an SUV isn’t exactly a tightly kept secret these days. In fact, Lotus CEO Jean-Marc Gales has repeatedly alluded to the company’s plans to have an SUV serve as its mass-market model to complement the range of sports cars it has in its portfolio. The latest news on this front comes by way of Bernama, Malaysia’s national news agency, which is reporting that Lotus’ new production facility is expected to begin construction by the end of 2016, essentially putting into motion the automaker’s long-term plan of launching the yet-to-be-named SUV by 2019.
The plant, which will be co-developed by Proton, Group Lotus and Goldstar Heavy Industrial, will be located in Guangzhou, China and will reportedly cost as much as $1.5 billion. Among other things, the site will eventually include a headquarters, presumably to be used by Lotus, as well as production facilities and a research and development center. Guangzhou Development and Reform Commission Deputy Director Wang Ke Si old Bernama that the site itself is still under development and will need the approval of “ministries, National Development and Reform Commission and other related commissions.”
It’s been said that Lotus is targeting China as the primary market for its SUV, although Gales also mentioned in the past that the model will hit other key markets all over the world, including the U.S. A design for the SUV is still currently being worked on and from past statements, Lotus is keen on coming up with a design that doesn’t exist in the automotive world yet.
For now, the primary objective is to begin construction of the production facility that will eventually be the production home of the SUV. All signs seem to point to the automaker receiving all the necessary approvals within the year, giving all relevant parties enough time to begin the construction of the facility by the end of 2016.
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Why it matters
Lotus CEO Jean-Marc Gales has made no qualms about his plan to turn Lotus into a more mainstream brand and like everybody else, he knows that the best way to do that is to begin offering an SUV. He’s hardly the first to concoct of such a plan as other automakers have taken similar steps.
But unlike those brands, a lot is riding on this SUV to be as successful as Lotus wants it to be. Lotus won’t admit it, but deep down, it knows that the SUV model is the key to attracting a bigger customer base than the one it has right now.
Tied to that, of course, is this production facility in China that Lotus wants to start constructing if it hopes to meet what appears to be a self-imposed SUV launch deadline of 2019. Without this facility, Lotus won’t be able to make the model in time, and as a company that’s already prone to production delays, that’s not the kind of thing it wants to be associated with again.
Personally, I want to see Lotus succeed both in the short and long term. If this SUV can help in that regard, then I’m all for it. From what’s already been mentioned, the model is expected to made using lightweight materials for the body and chassis. Engine options have already been mentioned and most are tied into the current crop of engines already being utilized by the company’s sports cars. Should that be the case, a supercharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine could be in the cards, as is a 3.5-liter V-6 engine.
Whatever the case may be, the first order of business is to get all the plans ironed out, especially the one that involves getting the construction of the production facility started.
Read our full review on the Lotus SUV here.