A collaboration between owner Proton and industrial company Goldstar paves the way for the British-based firm to build Chinese-market cars
Matt Burt
19 April 2015

Lotus is poised to build new vehicles in China following the formation of a new joint-venture company by its owner, Proton, and Goldstar Heavy Industrial.

The development strengthens the likelihood of a Lotus-badged SUV, as exclusively reported by Autocar last September, as well as bolstering its sports car sales.

According to a statement from Lotus, "the collaboration seeks to accelerate the development of Lotus cars in the premium sports segment in China".

Lotus already exports its Hethel-built sportscars to China, and chief executive Jean-Marc Gales has pinpointed the country as a key growth market for exports. Last year it sold 80 cars in China from a global total of 2015 vehicles.

Dato’ Abdul Harith Abdullah, chief executive officer of Proton, said: “The agreement will see the establishment of a new joint-venture company for the purpose of undertaking research and development activities in the use of efficient and advanced technology.

"The joint-venture company will then produce and sell Lotus-branded passenger cars as well as provide aftersales services in connection with its products in the People’s Republic of China".

The statement said the current Evora, Exige and Elise range will continue to be manufactured exclusively at its headquarters in Hethel.

That suggests the vehicles produced as part of the joint-venture could have a different identity to the iconic sportscars, raising the possibility of more mainstream cars such as the SUV and even a saloon.   

“The automotive market in China is the single largest in the world today, and is still growing, therefore it is only natural for an established iconic company like Lotus to embark upon the possibility of expansion, venture into the market and seek the available opportunities, in light of the keen interest shown by the many enquiries received thus far," added Dato’ Abdul Harith Abdullah.

"It is very difficult to ignore the market and Lotus will fill the gap in providing a lifestyle alternative to the growing demands of the affluent and market conscious local community."

The joint-venture company, which will build cars, engines and components, will establish itself in Quanzhou, the largest city in the Fujian province on China's East coast.

The joint-venture between Proton and Goldstar is in fact a revival of a previous link-up between the two companies to build Proton-badged cars. That allegiance ended ignominiously when Proton terminated the contract and instead joined forces with Youngman.

Read more Shanghai motor show news here 

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Our Verdict

Lotus Evora S

The Lotus Evora S rides and handles in a way that puts nearly everything else in its shade. Shame the interior doesn't match the price tag

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19 April 2015
OK that's it. Just shoot me before the Ariel Atom SUV hits the showrooms.

20 April 2015
If you love Lotus as a marque then this is the best of both worlds. Like Porsche does with its Cayenne/Macan Lotus can get money from sales of SUVs and other non-sports cars to continue its development of its sports cars. Unlike Porsche it doesn't to dirty its hands quite as much to accomplish this. In a world where specialist car makers finally understand the need to diversify or die this raises hope of Lotus' long-term prospects.

25 May 2015
Dany Bahar! Rather than thinking in terms of Chinese mass-market Roewe contenders, try to implement at least one of the six concepts that were shown to the public.

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