4 November 2004

Volkswagen has signed a long-term agreement with Malaysian manufacturer Proton that will initially mean VWs being built in the Far East. Although the deal gives VW access to Proton facilities, both parties were swift to emphasise that they remain independent, and claim neither will be taking any stake in the other. VW will be taking advantage of spare capacity at Proton’s new factory near Kuala Lumpur to build an estimated 15,000 cars a year from late 2005.

But, more interestingly, VW now has a link to Lotus, as the British company is owned by Proton. Volkswagen is in the process of developing its own two-seater mid-engined roadster – due in 2007 and to be topped by a V6 version – and Lotus expertise with ride and handling would be an obvious draw. Meanwhile, further evidence of a V6-engined Elise has appeared in the form of the Pininfarina Enjoy (above). The mid-engined two-seater, based on the Elise and unveiled at last year’s Geneva Motor Show, is thought to be on the verge of a bespoke production run complete with V6 power, most likely sourced from Toyota.

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