Currently reading: Lotus owner Geely plans SUV and cars to rival Ferrari
Two months after completing its purchase of the Norfolk car maker, Geely is aiming for the top of the performance car segment

Lotus’s owner Geely is already working on ambitious plans for its new British subsidiary, having completed its purchase of a majority stake in the Norfolk-based maker only two months ago.

This includes a decision on whether to produce a Lotus SUV that will be made very soon. Geely executives are already considering which platform it would be built on, the most obvious candidate being the Compact Modular Architecture that underpins both the Volvo XC40 and Lynk&Co 01. The flexibility of this platform means that it has been designed to accommodate high-performance applications including cars featuring a powered rear axle.

Lotus CEO: sports car production stays in Norfolk; SUV could go elsewhere

Beyond SUV plans, Geely is determined to keep Lotus making sports cars, and also sees strong growth potential in the brand. At the launch of the Lynk&Co 01 in China last week, Geely boss An Cong Hui said he was keen to emphasise how important his new subsidiary is. “We are making plans; we want to bring back the heritage of Lotus to be one of the top performers in the luxury sports car segment,” he said. “Lotus used to be ranked alongside Ferrari and Porsche, so we need to come back in that rank again.”

The acquisition of Lotus was part of a bigger deal that saw Geely take a 49% stake in Lotus’s former owner, Proton, and which was done to give Geely right-hand-drive production capability. But company insiders say the chance to take control and unlock the potential of Lotus was a huge part of the appeal, especially to Cong Hui.

Lotus has been struggling for investment cash for years, ever since former boss Dany Bahar’s grandiose plans to launch five all-new models was scrapped back in 2012. Although Lotus has returned to modest profitability – and, as we reported early this year, had started working on plans for an SUV – model development for the past five years has been restricted to tweaking and tucking the existing line-up.

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Mike Duff

Mike Duff
Title: Contributing editor

Mike has been writing about cars for more than 25 years, having defected from radio journalism to follow his passion. He has been a contributor to Autocar since 2004, and is a former editor of the Autocar website. 

Mike joined Autocar full-time in 2007, first as features editor before taking the reins at Being in charge of the video strategy at the time saw him create our long running “will it drift?” series. For which he apologies.

He specialises in adventurous drive stories, many in unlikely places. He once drove to Serbia to visit the Zastava factory, took a £1500 Mercedes W124 E-Class to Berlin to meet some of its taxi siblings and did Scotland’s North Coast 500 in a Porsche Boxster during a winter storm. He also seems to be a hypercar magnet, having driven such exotics as the Koenigsegg One:1, Lamborghini SCV12, Lotus Evija and Pagani Huayra R.

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russ13b 1 December 2017


ferraris aren't "all that" either! there is no greater example of "buying the badge" than ferrari, especially the old ones. don't forget why lamborghini esists, or that the lotus was - is - always the best set up.

HHX621 30 November 2017

Esprit & Elan

What Lotus needs for the future..


1. A brand new Esprit. A higly modified CX-75 engine with plus 600 HP. Lightweight structure approx 300 lbs lighter than the new McLaren 720 S. A tag at circa of £200000. They must offer something more exciting than just a Ferrari 488 with twin turbo. 


2. A brand new Elan including a new 26 R. Pricetag around £70000-110000.



lamcote 30 November 2017

Not to mention

all the Excel v 944 tests I read. Lotus was right there with (and ahead of) Porsche for many years.


jmd67 30 November 2017


Excel vs 944/924 and Esprit vs 911. The only Porsche Lotus didn't compete with was the 928.

The Esprit Turbo could also go head to head with the 308 and Jalpa. Lotus was in the mix back then and definitey has the heritage through its road cars and racing cars to go back up market. No doubt about it.

289 30 November 2017

@ Lamcote

...Oh Please! performance maybe - just!

But no one ever took Lotus as a serious Ferrari competitor....not even when James Bond drove one!

I am surprised Autocar even prints tosh like this. Geeley are dreaming...again.

What Lotus needs (if it is ever to survive), is a healthy dose of realism....sort of back to basics thinking. This sort of tripe - pitching for the stars with no basis, will see them dissapear - for good.

I am old enought to remember the so called heady days of the 70's and Lotus Espirit was never 'all that'