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.
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.