Lotus will bring together its steel fabrication and lightweight structures departments in a new, purpose-built facility in Norwich, creating up to 125 jobs in the area.
While the British brand's steel fabrication arm is located near its headquarters in Hethel, its lightweight structures department is based some 180 miles away in Worcester. Lotus says the new investment “demonstrates its commitment to the region and to Norwich”.
The new 12,300-square-metre Hurricane Way factory will produce aluminium chassis structures for the Elise, Evora and Exige sports cars, as well as aluminium components for “other global car companies” - likely Volvo, LEVC and Lynk&Co, which are also owned by Chinese car-making giant Geely.
Also taking place in the new building will be the welding and fabrication of steel structures, including subframes and suspension components. The Worcester building in which this currently takes place will be repurposed by the freeholder when Lotus leaves in May 2021, and staff will be offered the opportunity to transfer to the new location.
Lotus has been owned by Geely since 2017. It says that it has outgrown its existing facilities as its expansion under Chinese ownership has continued. This latest move will allow it to upgrade its machinery and tooling in preparation for new models arriving in the coming years.
The decision is being supported by the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership. Chris Starkie, chief executive of the organisation, said: “We are delighted to have helped Lotus complete this deal to develop a new production facility in Norwich. It underlines the commitment of this globally recognised brand to the county with which it is synonymous and reinforces our region as a centre of excellence in low-volume, high-tech manufacturing.”
His views were echoed by the leader of Norwich City Council, Alan Waters, who said: “The potential of dozens of new jobs in the pipeline also comes at a particularly welcome time as we continue to grapple with the effects of the pandemic. We very much look forward to continuing to work with Lotus as the new facility gets up and running.”