Now that Lotus is Free to Expand, Will an SUV be in the Works?
Now that beleaguered sports car brand Lotus is in the safe and stable arms of new parent firm Geely, there’s a lot of optimism and excitement surrounding the British automaker. One potential model that could finally materialize in the coming years is a Lotus SUV, which technically has been in the pipeline for well over a decade now. Not it appears close to reality as it’s ever been, and we could have Geely to thank for it.
To be clear, neither Lotus nor Geely have specifically identified an SUV as a future Lotus model. But Carl-Peter Forster, Geely board member and chairman of Geely-owned London taxi maker LEVC, hinted to Automotive News at the Frankfurt Motor Show about the possibility of seeing a Lotus SUV in the future. The main goal of Geely at this point is to look at possible avenues by which it can expand Lotus without diluting the brand’s status as a maker of lightweight sports cars. One way to do that is to build an SUV, something that Lotus has been keen on building since it introduced the APX CUV all the way back at the 2006 Geneva Motor Show. Nothing came out of those plans because Lotus didn’t have the money to build one, but with Geely now providing financial support, the possibilities are now open for Lotus to literally, in Forster’s own words, produce "any size of car and any number of cars.” Whether this pans out or not is another matter entirely. But consider a Lotus SUV as a viable possibility now, something that wouldn’t have happened had Geely not stepped in to buy the company.
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There have been rumors circulating that Volkswagen AG is interested in Proton, which includes the Lotus debacle, as either minority owners or a controlling stake. But if VW’s labor union officials have any say, this will not take place. Bend Osterloh let the Handelsblatt know that the labor union will not support VW acquiring Proton, Lotus, or any other brand.
Osterloh was quoted saying “We already have 12 brands and we first have to stabilize the group.” Osterloh also agrees that VW needs to increase its presence in Southwest Asia, but the labor union still won’t support VW in this potential purchase.
Osterloh holds a seat on the supervisory board, so he has a little pull in the company, but not that much pull. VW is looking to overtake GM as the world’s largest auto manufacturer by 2018 and we doubt a puny labor union will stop VW. Even the taxman couldn’t put the brakes on VW’s expansion when it purchased, err, restructured Porsche.
We are pretty sure that VW will own at least a portion of Proton before the end of 2013, it just has to figure out how to let its labor union know that it can either come along for the ride or step aside. This should be a pretty interesting one, as we all know exactly how well auto unions and automakers play together, so we may be in for a pretty big power struggle.
Grab the popcorn... We’ll keep you updated.
DRB-Hicom and Lotus have officially shut down the five-year plan that Dany Bahar placed the compact sports car company on shortly before he was canned. In fact, DRB-Hicom flat out called the plan unrealistic and we agree. Now with Lotus hanging around with no real future in sight, could DRB-Hicom be ready to offload Proton and Lotus altogether?
If it is ready to cut the money pits named Proton and Lotus loose, there is a suitor ready and waiting, according to a report by Reuters. Volkswagen, the recent PAC-Man of the automotive world, tried once to snatch up Proton, but failed, and now it looks as if it is ready to try again for at least partial control.
Ideally, for VW, DRB would let go of controlling stake in both companies and sell them to VW on the cheap, so that the magical Volkswagen wand can heal Lotus and Proton, much like it has with Audi. The connection is already there, as VW uses a DRB-Hicom facility to manufacture the Passat, so starting up the conversation of a buyout is as easy as pressing a speed-dial button on a cellphone.
Volkswagen, of course, isn’t saying a word about all of this and DRB-Hicom has been insisting that it is not selling Lotus or Proton. As we all know, car manufacturers will deny any type of news about selling companies or merging until they absolutely cannot deny it anymore, so we take all of this denying with a great big grain of Sodium Chloride.
We’ll keep you updated if anything else comes up on this front.
See, we told you this saga wasn’t over just yet… So when Lotus chose to fire Dany Bahar after an investigation that apparently revealed that he had used Lotus funds to inappropriately deck out his rental homes that were already paid for by Lotus, Dany decided that was a prime opportunity to milk even more money from the spiraling sports car builder, in the form of a wrongful termination lawsuit.
That’s right; according to a report from MSN U.K., the former head of Lotus has denied the allegations that he incorrectly used funds and is suing the British automaker. So not only did he collect £1.2 million ($1.48 million) per year as his company spiraled down the drain, but now he wants a little bit more money from Lotus, who needs to save every dime it can if it hopes to ever recover.
Here’s TopSpeed’s own solution to the problem. Hire the guy back, give him his old job, and have him sign a non-disclosure form that also waives his right to sue for the previous termination. Next, call him into a board meeting and fire him for the overall performance of Lotus in his three years as its head.
If I perform poorly at work and cost my company millions of dollars, I get fired. My boss wouldn’t have to dig up some weird financial slight on my behalf. Just call me into his office, tell me that I was not performing, and send me on my merry old way. That is it… Then again, maybe this whole investigation was to avoid having to pay a severance package to Bahar, which would likely be several million dollars, and that is the fuel powering this alleged lawsuit.
As expected, Lotus and Bahar are not available to confirm or deny whether this lawsuit is actually happening or not, which points to the likelihood that it is happening.
As we all know, Lotus Group has been in some hot water for a long time and has yet to pull itself out of its downward spiral. The latest news came when Proton, the unfortunate owner of the Lotus money pit, was bought out by DRB-Hicom. Well, this led several of our colleagues in the automotive journalism field to begin questioning the status of Lotus and its easily angered CEO Dany Bahar.
When you encounter this kind of bad press, there are a few ways that a global company, like Lotus, can handle it. Ultimately, it boils down to a right way to handle it and a wrong way to handle it. Well, Lotus took some the pretty innocent rib jabbing from the media and decided to take the wrong way to an entirely new level.
Lotus decided to take its frustrations out on everyone in the worst possible of ways… via a Facebook post. On their official page they call out several journalists for their “inaccurate reporting,” as Lotus group pretty much claims. They then proceed to entertain us with a long list of fact vs. myth tidbits that really tell us absolutely nothing, other then making clear the fact that they are completely pissed and have no idea how to contain their anger.
The rant almost reads like a 13-year-old girl whose best friend just stole her boyfriend, called her fat, and then spread a nasty rumor that she was kissing the town nerd under the bleachers during the homecoming dance. Yeah, it’s really that bad. What’s worse is a full 10 hours after that scorned-teenager-like post went up, it is still there for the entire world to see and laugh like hell at.
On the surface, it is starting to look as if Lotus is beginning to crack and DRB-Hicom did not become the giant they did by handling things like this lightly. Plus there have already been rumors of Lotus being sold off to China Youngman, Shanghai Automotive, or Beijing Automotive. This may be the straw that broke Lotus’ and Bahar’s back…
Hit the jump to read the unedited post from Facebook, it’s well worth it.
The 2012 Geneva Motor Show is less than one month away and, taking into account all of the cars scheduled to appear, it’s going to be a hell of a show. This is especially true if we consider the fact that Lotus has just announced they will "blow the top off" in Geneva this year. Signs point to a convertible, or strategically placed bait for the media.
The British company hasn’t revealed any details on the exact model that will be blowing its top, but their press release says that the new car will have "something breezy, something loud, something ice-cold, and some other interesting elements." Logically speaking, the "blow the top off" part seems pretty self explanatory, but the other elements have definitely sparked our curiosity. A whole new model would certainly not be out of the question, but highly unlikely. The next Lotus Exige was rumored to debut at the Geneva Motor Show, but that’s a Coupe so Lotus is either throwing us for a loop or debuting something different. A possible convertible model could be the convertible version of the Evora that was rumored a few years ago, which would suit us just fine.
Whatever the case may be, the mysterious Lotus will show its face, and it’s possible drop top, when the Geneva Motor Show opens its doors on March 6, 2012. Stay tuned!
Yesterday, Lotus did something rather interesting. The British sports car maker sent everybody in the automotive industry a picture of Stonehenge and then boldly announced a new era. Of course, this obviously means the new Lotus Esprit, but perhaps there is more to this new era than we think.
According to a report out of Malaysia, Lotus owner Proton has hired a load of ex-Ferrari, Porsche, and Aston Martin employees in the hopes of turning the company from a quirky Toyota based sports car company to a real luxury supercar brand. So, gone are the days of a basic motor with a light frame. Instead, Lotus might become complex, which is sad in a way, like the end of an era.
The new Lotus Esprit will most likely be getting a V8 of some sort and engine supplier Toyota has just that. The 5.0-liter 416 horsepower V8 from the IS-F would do nicely in the new Lotus and it would help it compete with other sports cars in that segment. That being said, more power is in order if Lotus wants to rival Ferrari.
According to the report,Lexus’s 4.8-liter V10 from the LFA might be made available. The engine puts out 552 horsepower and can even break wine glasses. It makes perfect sense, as Lexus spent a boatload of cash on this motor and are only going to put them in 500 or so cars. So, why not get some of that money back by selling a few to Lotus?
So, would anybody buy a Lotus with that much power? Of course they would, but what made Lotus so special was the low price and insane handling ability, not big thirsty motors and massive price tags.