Proton may be forced to sell Lotus; Is the new Esprit worth the gamble?
Thirty years ago, when James Bond pulled up in an Esprit S1 in The Spy Who Loved Me and an Esprit Turbo in For Your Eyes Only, Lotus execs had big, shit-eating grins on their faces. When the famous spy dropped the contract with Lotus, these same execs began scrambling to figure out their next step. That next step came with a buyout from Proton in 1996, but things haven’t gotten much better and Proton may be ready and willing to snip the cord and let Lotus become someone else’s problem.
It took Proton 15 years and zero profit to come to terms with the fact that the Lotus purchase wasn’t a highlight of their business plan. After all, Proton builds sedans and taxis, while Lotus builds sports cars and wants to compete with makers like Ferrari and Porsche, so the oil and water scenario comes to mind. Now Proton is in trouble itself, and investors such as Gan Eng Peng say selling Lotus may just be what they need to get back in gear, but they’ll have to find a buyer first.
As of right now, no one has stepped up to make an offer, which isn’t all that surprising considering Lotus doesn’t stand to make a profit until the new Esprit comes out in 2014. Lotus Chief Executive Officer Dany Taner Bahar (formerly a Ferrari executive) backs up that statement saying he’s confident Lotus can become profitable by 2014. Of course, that will be really hard to do unless they get some financial backing sooner rather than later.
Does anyone have millions of dollars they would use to bet on the success of the new Esprit?