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Lotus's glimmer of hope: Proton stands by Hethel

By Jonathan Burn

Motor Industry

09 January 2013 11:00

After another painful year of sales for Lotus in the UK – down 58% on 2011 - Norfolk's beleagured sports car brand has kicked off the New Year with the grand unveiling of its new flagship Malaysian showroom, and the thumbs-up from senior Proton company suits that Lotus isn't on its last legs.

The announcement comes in the same week Lotus’s sales figures were released for 2012. Showing a substantial 58% decrease in sales and selling just 137 vehicles, Lotus Cars was the worst performer in the UK with a woeful 0.01% share of the market. 

Are Lotus's Malaysian owners sticking by the company?

Executive chairman of Lotus's parent Proton, Dato' Sri Haji Mohd Khamil, came out this week with some encouraging statements. ‘The Exige and Elise cars represent the best that Lotus has to offer right now, and I can truly say that the best is yet to come,' he said. 

'For Lotus to remain competitive and relevant, it will be necessary for us to introduce more and more exciting products to our customers in the future. We have many times affirmed our commitment to the future of this brand, and with the launch of Malaysia's first Lotus Flagship Showroom today, we are again reiterating our commitment to the future of Lotus.'

It sounds like a black and white endorsement from the other side of the world for the Norfolk car maker.

So Lotus is serious about the Malaysian car market?

Yes. Proton boss Dato' Sri Haji Mohd Khamil was speaking at the opening of the newest Lotus showroom in Malaysia. Offering the new Exige S and Elise S to a potentially lucrative market, the facility is one of 140 Lotus showrooms worldwide. Proton touted the new Malaysian facility as a 'Flagship Showroom' made special by its 'Customer Interactive Block'. 

This latest chunk of gobbledegook - the 'Customer Interactive Block' - is 'a meeting place for Lotus owners, and to coordinate events such as Lotus Convoys, Races, and Defensive/Advanced Driver Training', according to Proton.