My friendly local car maker – Lotus – is in the money again, our money.
The regional growth fund loan, first awarded in 2011 and then held back around the time that the motor firm’s parent company, Proton, was being sold and the subsequent controversy that surrounded Dany Bahar's departure.
According to Dr Vince Cable, “Eighteen months ago there was a real worry about its viability, but the parent company have put a lot of money in. It is 300-plus jobs in the sector and it is part of the success story of the British car industry, which is massively on the up. Last year, in volume terms, we were net exporters of cars for the first time ever.”
“The money is matching their investment and secures their position in this county, which is great news for the county as a whole.
I think that the actual “Lotus position”, as it were, is being fluffed up by the rather more successful manufacturing success stories elsewhere in the country.
So far I think that Lotus has performed woefully; it's sold no more than handfuls of cars recently and struggles to be taken seriously as a first-choice sports car company. You buy one because it’ll be good to drive, but there is more to the ownership proposition than that. You also want a decent dealer network, some faith in the resale value and confidence in the fit and finish. Whereas I get Morgan and why people buy them, I can’t think of a good reason why anyone wouldn’t simply get themselves a Porsche Cayman, Mazda MX-5, Nissan 370Z or a Toyota GT86 instead of any Lotus.