New Lotus owner Geely is planning a £1.5 billion-plus investment in the brand, in its attempt to push the small British manufacturer into the big leagues of sports car production.
Geely’s plan includes increasing its 51% stake in Lotus, which would mean buying more from Malaysian co-owner Etika Automotive.
A new design centre in Coventry is planned for Lotus, as is growth of the brand’s Hethel headquarters, with 200 new engineers due to be hired. After this, another Midlands-based plant will handle the expanded production as the brand grows.
This is in addition to a new factory in China that the brand would use to cater for demand in the Far East. Geely boss Li Shufu reiterated the brand’s commitment to the UK, though, saying: "This is just like what we have done with the London Taxi Company: engineer in Britain, design in Britain and 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 stated in an email to Bloomberg that it is “fully committed to restoring Lotus into being a leading global luxury brand". It’s thought that the firm has the likes of Porsche in its sights for Lotus’s new market position. The brand"s first move into Porsche-like territory will be an SUV, due in 2020.
Li"s plan to turn his company into a major global player is one of the industry’s most aggressive; shortly after acquiring Lotus and a 49.9% stake in parent company Proton, Geely spent £6.4 billion acquiring almost 10% of Mercedes-Benz"s parent company, Daimler, becoming its largest single shareholder.