Lotus is now helping its owner Proton to develop a range of cars, boss Dany Bahar has revealed — but he has questioned the scope for further co-operation.
Proton “is getting the benefit [of owning Lotus] for the first time”, according to Bahar. Hethel is helping with several models, including a global city car that will also be developed into the small Lotus revealed at the Paris show last autumn.
Bahar says that the new baby hatch will look just like the concept — which he describes as “beautiful” — or not happen at all.
Going forward, Bahar believes that a company the size of Lotus cannot develop cars that meet stringent emission and crash regulations on its own.
Although it’s owned by Proton, Bahar says Lotus’s products are too far removed for this to be a real help. He sees a tie-up with, or sale to, another maker (perhaps Toyota) as an exit strategy for Proton and the other investors in the plan. Alternatively, the company could be floated.
Lotus is also planning to reapply for a UK regional development loan (already rejected once) to build a new factory at Hethel for its Elite and Eterne, creating up to 1000 jobs. If the application fails, the cars will be built by Magna in Austria.