With its current model range of Elise, Exige and Evora all rooted in ageing architectures, Lotus will use the electric hypercar to reposition itself as the most modern of performance car makers.
Lotus, perennially lossmaking and underfunded by a succession of owners over several decades, now has the world at its feet with Geely, which is planning to make the brand a force to be reckoned with on the world stage.
The new hypercar is not the only car in the works at Hethel, where Geely’s majority stake is at 51%. The remainder is owned by Malaysian conglomerate Etika Automotive, which is fronted by billionaire Syed Mokhtar, who also owns Lotus’s former owner DRB-Hicom.
Lotus will continue to be based at Hethel, where its sports cars will be produced alongside the engineering of all its models. But Lotus will also make use of a new Geely design centre in Coventry, and is recruiting designers and engineers across the organisation. What is currently unknown, however, is where the future SUV (also a major part of Lotus’s plans) will be built. With limited capacity at Hethel, it is likely that Lotus will make use of Geely’s numerous factories in places such as Sweden and the US.
Geely’s presence is already starting to be felt around Lotus. While it develops the next generation of Lotus models, it is making a big play around the heritage of the brand to help with its global positioning ready for the launch of the new cars. To that end, it recently submitted planning permission for a new customer experience centre, heritage centre and museum to breathe new life into its Hethel site, where further redevelopments and upgrades are ongoing.
Geely has also installed new management at the firm, replacing Jean-Marc Gales, who helped stabilise Lotus and return it to profit. Feng Qingfeng, who is also in charge of Geely group engineering, is now CEO of Group Lotus, while former Jaguar Land Rover senior executive Phil Popham is CEO of Lotus Cars.
In response to Autocar’s story, Lotus said it didn’t comment on future product speculation. However, it added: “Lotus’s development team is exploring numerous engineering projects, across multiple vehicle sectors, using several propulsion systems. As part of the development process, these projects undergo continual and stringent valuation and only the best will reach production.”
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