Lotus Cars has secured enough investment from its new Malaysian owner, the automotive giant DRB-Hicom, to restore full car production at its Hethel assembly plant in the next few days, and continue build-up to the launch of the first of its new-wave models, the Esprit supercar due in showrooms before the end of 2013.
A four-model, five-year plan devised by CEO Dany Bahar has had to be amended because a 60-day financial “freeze”, a routine occurrence when Malaysian firms sell major assets, has interrupted the flow of agreed development funds and introduced considerable production delays.
The resumption means that from beginning of May Lotus should be making Elises, Exiges and Evoras at a combined rate of 44 cars a week, and will be continuing to to spend on the development of the Esprit, especially its own-design V8 engine and novel automated manual transmission.
Other new models proposed beyond Esprit remain in abeyance for the time being but Lotus expects to launch at least three improved versions of existing models in time for this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed, late in June, where it is this year’s “chosen” marque. The company celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, as well as the 50th anniversary of the launch of the first Lotus Elan.
Bahar vehemently denies recent assertions made during a recent parliamentary debate by local MP, Richard Bacon, that the business consultancy KPMG has been tasked with finding a buyer for the company in China.
“It’s just not true,” he says. “There is no fire sale, no selling process and no bidding. If there were, lots of strange people would be here doing inspections and due diligence, but there is nobody. Besides, I have no authority to sell the company. That’s a job for the shareholders. I am just an employee.”