Geely chairman Li Shufu said that the priority of the deal is to make Lotus and parent company Proton, which was also acquired by Geely, profitable. It was not mentioned whether Shufu referred to one model or multiple, however.
The Eastern Daily Press reported chairman Li Shufu as saying: "This is just like what we have done with London Taxi Company, engineer in Britain, design in Britain, built in Britain. We see no reason to move fifty years of combined experience to China – let them do what they do best – in Britain.”
“Geely is fully committed to revitalizing the Lotus brand which will include new investment and a widened car range.” he said, adding that it wanted to make “the Lotus brand a global one, staying true to the brand’s heritage”.
While Lotus posted a profit for the first time in 20 years this year, its foothold on the UK market is tentative, with sales having fluctuated in recent years.
Although Shufu's comments confirm that an outright move of production of a model or models is off the table, the possibility of an eventual Chinese-produced Lotus model or models down the line cannot be ruled out, given the movement of Volvo S90 production to China late last year by Geely, due to the cheaper cost of production there.
Despite the Chinese production potential, it’s expected that Lotus’s headquarters will remain in the UK, just as Volvo’s remained in Gothenburg, Sweden, following its takeover by Geely.
Shufu also said that electrification, further lightweight and artificial intelligence were priorities for the Lotus and Proton brands, as it looks to use Proton’s knowhow to conquer the South East Asian market. It's likely that Shufu's plan for Lotus in China would be to cater for the brand's customers in the Asian market.
It’s possible that as Lotus looks to build its car line-up with its first ever SUV, a notably more profitable model for other brands, Shufu could be looking to boost these profits with reduced production costs of a Chinese plant. Lotus's lower-volume market than Volvo's could also be a catalyst in the decision.