Currently reading: Talks over Lotus's future 'ongoing'
Group Lotus statement: 'no indication that DRB-Hicom plans to put us into administration'
Steve Cropley Autocar
3 mins read
11 April 2012

Group Lotus insists no decision has been taken on its future by new Proton owners DRB-Hicom.

The new owner of its Malaysian-based parent company, Proton, is strongly rumoured to be eyeing strategies that could lead the Hethel sports car company into administration as a way of freeing it from around £200 million worth of accumulated debts.

In response, Lotus has issued the following statement.

“The new Proton owners DRB-Hicom are currently in the middle of their due diligence of Group Lotus. There have been and continue to be positive discussions between Group Lotus senior management and senior management at DRB-Hicom both here in Hethel and in Malaysia.

"Despite various rumours in the media to the contrary, at no point has DRB-HICOM indicated to Group Lotus that they intend to put the company into administration. We welcome the opportunity to put that rumour - along with incorrect speculation that production has stopped , that Dany Bahar is no longer CEO and that we are no longer involved in F1- to bed.

“It’s no secret that we are going through a very difficult time at the moment due to the change in ownership but we’re doing everything we can to get through this period and come out the other side stronger than before. We’re very grateful for the continued support we receive from the people of Norfolk and all over the world.”

Malaysian-based DRB-Hicom, whose management is understood not to share Proton’s view of Lotus as a prized asset to be retained and developed. At the time of that acquisition Lotus CEO Dany Bahar told Autocar that the sports car company, which had been spending pre-arranged loan funds to create an all-new model range, would have to switch to conserving cash until a 60-day transitional phase, required under Malaysian law, had passed.

The phase ended weeks ago but Lotus is believed still to be in financial limbo and this week Bahar is “on leave”.

Rumours circulated by the well-known F1 reporter Joe Saward, among others, suggest Proton’s new owner could be shaping up to sell the assets of the sports car company to China Youngman, Lotus’s importer in China since 2006, and a company which already makes its own “Engineered by Lotus” cars for sale in the region using Proton running gear.

Youngman, which has long recognised the value of established European brands in emerging markets, was a bidder for Saab after the Swedish company’s collapse last year. Talks with other Chinese car companies are also rumoured to have taken place.

Concern over Lotus’s problems accelerated late last week when the Lotus F1 team (formerly Lotus-Renault) terminated a sponsorship agreement with Group Lotus but disclosed that it had struck a five-year deal with Lotus’s owners to continue using the famous name. This fed speculation that the F1 team’s owner, the private investment group Genii, might soon become a bidder for the car company, but its principal Gerard Lopez has so far been tight-lipped on the idea.


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Financial pundits consulted by Autocar say a new owner would be reluctant to take the company on as a going concern with current debts estimated at £200 million.

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10 April 2012

Did anyone apart from Autocar magazine take any of that fantasy product line-up seriously in the first place? It never made any business sense.

10 April 2012

I hate to say it, but surprise sur-fkin-prise....

What a shame.

10 April 2012

I do hope I'm wrong, but I can't shake the feeling this is the start of the death of Lotus. It really saddens me to say that as the Exige still ranks as one of the best cars I've driven, but short of some miraculous 11th-hour intervention I cannot see the company surviving with that level of debt for much longer.

10 April 2012

[quote Submariner Redux]Did anyone apart from Autocar magazine take any of that fantasy product line-up seriously in the first place?[/quote]

I have to say that the very vast majority of contributors to the various Lotus threads that appeared here were remarkably consistent in seeing through the bogus PR and predicting this very event.

Pity though.... ...but at this stage it was too late anyway. Danny Bahar had reduced the Lotus brand value to that of Coco the Clown...


10 April 2012

[quote Submariner Redux] Did anyone apart from Autocar magazine take any of that fantasy product line-up seriously in the first place? It never made any business sense.

.....absolutely agree Submariner, in fact I laughed out loud when I read it...pure fantasy!

Its similar to the OK/Hello magazine soon as a couple run an article about their perfect life/marriage/family/home, you can be sure the clock has started ticking until the divorce proceedings announcment! Priceless.

Frankly the Brand could never support prestige priced should have stuck to chunky Chapmans original recipe...simplicity. The top of the range should be the Exige, everything else should be light simple and efficient targeting pure enthusiasts and the exploding track-day market...oh, and they should never have sold the Seven to Caterham.

10 April 2012

Is it too soon to say "I told you so?"

But in all seriousness, Bahar's management has been abysmal and he deserves every brickbat that gets thrown his way. Interesting that he is "on leave" as the inevitable conclusion is being reached. Disgraceful.

Hopefully the brand and all the jobs at Hethel can be saved. Lopez and Fernandes should put their heads together, but the company and develop a Lotus/Caterham alliance which sees Lotus developing new models (well, not six at once, and just buy someone else's engines for now) and the Elise/Exige get handed over to Caterham for ongoing development to become the 21st century equivalent of the 7.

10 April 2012

Given that Lotus builds few if any cars that people are actually prepared to buy, its only a matter of time before they go bust. And given how crap their products have been for the last 50yrs, they should be applauded for having lasted as long as they have.

10 April 2012

[quote Boris911]given how crap their products have been for the last 50yrs, they should be applauded for having lasted as long as they have.[/quote] A bit harsh perhaps? But their current range (if they were building them), all basically derivatives of the 18 year old Elise are not are not realistically competitive. Aston Martin are heading the same way in my opinion.

10 April 2012

[quote Dave Ryan]I can't shake the feeling this is the start of the death of Lotus.[/quote]

Meanwhile today the potential new owners of Saab Automotive had to file their final bids, bidding now closed, for Saab's carcass with the administrators.

Even those eternal optimists on the website reckon the debts are almost $2 billion and the administrators will be lucky to receive a third of that to divide up between the creditors.

And once those deserving creatures the tax authorities, lawyers and banks have first claim on the money the ex employees will probably get nowt.

10 April 2012

[quote Boris911]

Given that Lotus builds few if any cars .

[/quote] Therein lies the problem - look at the (non-existent) sales figures.


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