Lotus owner DRB-Hicom has signed off a three-year programme to revitalise the struggling firm.
Although details remain scarce, it has been confirmed that the company has already spent more than £100 million keeping Lotus afloat, and that the rise in sales during that time has been enough to convince it that Lotus is worth investing in.
“We have cleaned up and we are moving ahead,” DRB managing director Tan Sri Mohd Khamil Jamil told Malaysian media, highlighting the financial, technical, marketing and product planning problems the firm inherited when it took control of Lotus’s parent company, Proton.
“We are coming out with the variants based on existing products — variants with improved technology, improved performance, improved quality as well as improved costing,” he said.
The first of these was the Lotus Exige S roadster, and Jamil confirmed that the firm plans to launch more variants of the Evora and Elise. Of the Exige S roadster, Jamil said: “It is not going to sell in big volumes, but it is a big step.”
Jamil also confirmed that Lotus sold 70 cars up to the end of May — as opposed to 80 in all of 2012. Production is now said to be stepping up to 40 cars per month, with 85 per cent of them exported.
It is this revival that is said to underpin business secretary Vince Cable’s willingness to sign off a £10 million investment as part of the Regional Growth Fund. The RGF is designed for new jobs and training and for R&D projects.
Jamil also confirmed that the five-car, five-year plan developed under the stewardship of Dany Bahar has been officially killed off. However, speculation continues that the Esprit project was close to fruition when DRB took over and that it could be revived at relatively little cost.
It was also confirmed that Proton has signed a collaboration deal with Honda, although Jamil declined to discuss the terms of the arrangement.