Lotus CEO told to continue five-year program amidst Proton sale

Article by Anita Panait, on February 16, 2012

The chief executive of Lotus Group Plc, Dany Bahar, has received instructions to carry on his five-year program to replace the entire Lotus model range, despite the fact that its Malaysian owner, Perusahaan Otomobil Nasional (Proton), is currently being acquired by DRB Hicom.

Bahar revealed that the company’s work at its Hethel site will experience a slowdown over the next two months since Malaysian law requires a 60-day change-of-ownership process, during which period Lotus would not have access to Proton funds.“We have explained our plans to the new owner and have been told to keep going as we are,” Bahar told told Autocar in an exclusive interview.

The Lotus chief executive said that the company’s immediate problem is to manage the cash in the business carefully during the 60-day pause, adding that he is confident that this is a temporary technical issue.

DRB Hicom is reportedly open to negotiations over a possible sale of Lotus. Bahar, however, dismissed reports saying that Lotus is close to being sold to one of its supposed suitors, which includes Lotus F1 Team owner Genii. Bahar said that to the best of his knowledge, no one is about to buy the Lotus. The Lotus CEO said that the way the market situation is now, things are looking promising.

He noted that the company’s latest Exige model is receiving “crazy” demand, with 383 orders. He also noted that they have 200 orders for the Evora GTE, which will see production in May.

Bahar remarked that it would be “silly” to write off all the money invested and effort exerted in implementing the company’s five-year plan, which commenced two years ago. Bahar enumerated the company’s recent achievements in line with the plan: new gearbox on the dyno; a new V8 supercar engine; and supercar prototypes to be tested in May.

The core of the road-going Lotus Evora GTE is a 3.5-liter V6 Lotus Evora engine that could provide around 444 PS of output. While this makes the Evora GTE the most powerful road car from Lotus so far, it doesn’t take away the fact the race-vehicle inspired sports car is able to provide a comfortable and heavily refined ride.

Since the Lotus Evora GTE was developed and built as a special limited edition celebrating Lotus' entry to the GTE category, it bears quite a number of elements typically found in an endurance racing car. These elements include its sequential AMT (Automated Manual Transmission) racing gearbox as well as its lightweight forged alloy wheels -- with center lock hubs – wrapped in Pirelli P-Zero Corsa tires.

When compared to the base Lotus Evora, the Lotus Evora GTE is around 105 kg lighter. This is thanks to the extensive use of carbon fiber throughout both the exterior and interior of the Lotus Evora GTE. In fact, Lotus employed carbon fiber for all bodywork modifications like the front and rear bumpers as well as the doors and the rear wing.

As soon as you enter the cabin, a modern race-themed cabin is revealed. This theme surprisingly makes its occupants feel comfortable while still enjoying the thrill of a race car. The interior of the Lotus Evora GTE extensively employs carbon fiber and leather. Both the driver and the passenger are treated to secure yet comfortable Recaro seats, which are also made from lightweight carbon fiber.

Topics: lotus, ceo, proton

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