Currently reading: Lotus production to continue in Norfolk, could also begin in China, says Geely owner
Geely’s acquisition of the Lotus brand could mean production beginning in China, chairman Li Shufu suggests
Jimi Beckwith
News
2 mins read
26 June 2017

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.

Read more:

Geely buys Lotus, stake in Proton

2020 Lotus Elise confirmed following return to profit

2020 Lotus Elise to remain true to its roots

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bowsersheepdog 29 June 2017

Keep it pure

I'm delighted that Lotus has a more secure future, but, even more than Volvo, the name and the reputation it carries should not be tarnished by association with jeeps.
gussy51 26 June 2017

They already said there will be more models

Lotus will likely build an SUV or two on Volvo/Geely platforms, so they will get built in Volvo/Geely factories. It's something they have wanted to do for a few years, so this isn't news. It may or may not make it cheaper for the new Elise to be built there and exported back to Europe, but if it kept the price of the next car low while adding content why not and it could make way for a new flagship above the next Evora. Who knows but given what they did with Volvo and the London Taxi Company, I would be very surprised if they stopped all UK production or reduced the R&D work carried out here. They will probably need it all for supporting the relaunched Polestar brand. Let's wait and see if Jean Marc Gales hangs about and who replaces him if he goes
jer 26 June 2017

@voyager

You'd say that this has been down to the growth of the rich in the world. But whilst not having the numbers to hand I would suspect that Porsche has always been a more global brand Lotus far less so. They also built lets say fully engineered steer body chassis and engines (albeit with some engine faults) whereas Lotus was is more GRP with engines bought in.

I'd say that they have to do this if it gives them an entry level car that as someone said is less the the cost of a Porsche. So long as its engineered in Europe. Also note Geely Volvo don't manufacture the Europe cars in China. A 25k Lotus Elise "classic" if it was built right would be something that could sell globally.