Geely’s acquisition of the Lotus brand could mean production beginning in China, chairman Li Shufu suggests

Production of Lotus cars may have a future in China following the brand’s acquisition by Chinese car company Geely

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.

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Comments
15

23 June 2017
If they moved all production to China, without preserving their workforce in Norfolk, that would send a very negative message.

I'd suggest they keep the cars here and manufacture an SUV in China. IMO, there's still value in the perception that Lotus is a British company, with manufacturing here too.

23 June 2017
I hope the Lotus brand is not about to become as pointless as the MG brand has become.

23 June 2017
Lotus has produced cars in Norfolk for fifty years. If they are no longer built in Norfolk, Geely is destroying the brand and the heritage. Only the gullible or insane would by a Chinese-built sports car.

23 June 2017
I can't see production moving to China. The Volvo S90 moved to China, as that's the main market for the product. By contrast small sports cars are miniscule sellers there. And China labour costs are nowhere near as low as they used to be anyway.

Geely have invested a lot of money in a new factory to produce the TX5 taxi in Coventry, as they realised the importance of UK production for that product

23 June 2017
Mikey C wrote:

I can't see production moving to China. The Volvo S90 moved to China, as that's the main market for the product. By contrast small sports cars are miniscule sellers there. And China labour costs are nowhere near as low as they used to be anyway.

Geely have invested a lot of money in a new factory to produce the TX5 taxi in Coventry, as they realised the importance of UK production for that product

I hope you are proved right but, I am not confident you will be, unfortunately.

23 June 2017
a lotus;
engineered in the middle of nowhere by god's chosen few, on a budget of literally tens of pounds, then built in unassuming little shed. delicate looking and with a smaller engine, it promptly launches off in to the distance and gives everyone else an object lesson in cornering physics.

things like that have to come from a little shed, not an anonymous foreign factory.

23 June 2017
Please can we have some subsidies or we will threaten to close Hethel, thanks Geely.

24 June 2017
JCarter wrote:

Please can we have some subsidies or we will threaten to close Hethel, thanks Geely.

No-one's gonna care. People will care about great cars, not where they're made. And anyway Lotus use Toyota engines. So just stop being a drama queen and suck it up.

24 June 2017
Sorry chaps, you can't have your cake and eat it. Even Naim produce their Muso hifi in China. Get over it, or pay Porsche money for much much less. Hang on, you already do. The important thing is engineering great cars, not where they're made.

Suck it up or go home. The choice is yours.

24 June 2017
a pity to be honest but just lacked investment in the Uk wouldcost 10% extra on duty alone to bring to Europe

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