LOTUS IS ABANDONING plans to build sports cars in Malaysia, in factories owned by its parent company Proton.
In future, all production will be centred in Hethel near Norwich, where all Lotus models have been built since the mid-’60s.
Lotus never ‘officially’ announced that it would make cars in Malaysia, but moved plant and personnel there over the past year and the plan became an open secret.
Proton factories and technicians were to be used both to make the new alloy-bodied Esprit V8 supercar — the first car to use Lotus’s unique VVA (Variable Vehicle Architecture) — and the forthcoming Europa, the more refined, Vauxhall-engined two-seater GT closely based on the Elise.
Lotus and Proton technicians are now dismantling Lotus jigs and fixtures for shipping back to the UK.
It is believed that the two cars’ specifications and launch schedules are unaffected by the decision. In fact, several analysts are convinced that the Esprit costs could even benefit from being made in the UK.
The V8 supercar, understood to continue the Esprit name, will cost about £60,000 and is tipped to break cover in two years’ time.
The Europa is certain to be made on one of the two existing Elise/Exige production lines at Hethel, and is likely to be launched early next year.