► Lotus now officially under new owners
► Geely buys 51% controlling stake
► Chinese automotive giant also owns Volvo
The sale of a majority stake in Lotus to Chinese automotive heavyweight Geely has now been officially completed. Geely owns 51% of the company, having taken control from previous Lotus owners DRB-Hicom. Malaysian group Etika owns the other 49%.
Geely buys Lotus: the sums
In May 2017 news emerged that Lotus was being bought by Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, the owners of Volvo and the London Taxi Company. The deep-pocketed conglomerate bought a 49.9% stake in Group Lotus owners Proton from its previous keepers DRB-Hicom for 460.3 million ringgit ($107.37 million), including a 170.3 million ringgit cash injection.
In turn, it also takes a 51% controlling stake in Group Lotus, bought for £100 million, according to DRB-Hicom managing director Syed Faisal Albar. That includes both Lotus Cars and the Lotus Engineering consultancy firm, which works with most car makers on a behind-the-scenes consulting basis.
What does this mean for Lotus?
Jean-Marc Gales remains Lotus CEO, working with a newly created five-person board of management – featuring three members from Geely and two from Etika.
Geely bought Volvo from Ford in 2010, with an initial investment of $11 billion. Since then the Swedish car maker has seemingly flourished, with capital for new platforms, a new engine family and autonomous technology.
The long-mooted Lotus SUV project could be a goer under Geely, using the upcoming Compact Modular Architecture (CMA) platform it will share with Volvo for models including Volvo's small XC40 SUV. Jean-Marc Gales described the SUV as ‘work in progress’ when CAR spoke to him at the end of 2016. ‘We need technical partners, which we are currently looking for,’ he said.
Lotus was ‘cashflow positive’ during 2016, Gales said, after a long run of heavy losses. It plans to launch the next-generation Elise in 2020, with the car homologated for sales in the USA. Click here for more news on Lotus Cars’ future plans.
A new engine family could be on the cards under Geely too, alongside or in place of the existing Toyota units Lotus currently uses.
And maybe Hethel’s chassis engineering gurus will be able to make Volvo and Geely models handle just that little bit more sharply.
Will Lotus cars still be built in Hethel?
Geely chief Li Shufu has previously hinted that Geely has been looking at the viability of producing Lotus models in China. His comments were published in Automotive News with additional reporting from the Reuters news agency.
Geely will be crunching the maths on the relatively high cost of building cars in the UK versus the economic gains of switching production to the far east, but it’s too early to say whether the production of iconic Lotus sports car models could move from its established home at Hethel.
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