Lotus boss Dany Bahar has been ordered to continue the five-year programme he devised two years ago to replace the entire Lotus model range, even though Malaysian parent company Proton is in the process of being acquired by a new owner, DRB Hicom.
Progress at Hethel will slow over the next two months, Bahar says, because Malaysian law entails a 60-day change-of-ownership process, during which time Lotus will not have access to previously agreed Proton funds. This will also result in some delays in the development of the new models, which could set back the launch date of the new Esprit by as much as six months, as well as creating shorter delays for the Exige S and Evora GTE.
“We have explained our plans to the new owner,” the Lotus CEO told Autocar in an exclusive interview, “and have been told to keep going as we are. The immediate problem is to manage the cash in the business carefully during the 60-day pause, but I am confident that this is a temporary technical issue.”
Proton’s new owners are reportedly “open” to talks about the sale of Lotus, but Bahar dismisses as speculation suggestions the company is close to being sold to one of a number of supposed suitors, including the Luxembourg-based private investment company Genii, which already owns the Lotus F1 team.