Lotus to resume full production after securing enough investment from DRB-Hicom

Article by Christian A., on April 28, 2012

Within the next few days, Lotus Cars will be able to resume full production at its assembly plant in Hethel after securing an adequate amount of investment from DRB-Hicom, its new Malaysian owner. Lotus will also now continue to prepare for the launch of the Esprit supercar (the first of its new-wave models) before 2013 ends.

Amendments had to be made to the four-model, five-year plan made by CEO Dany Bahar due to a 60-day financial “freeze”, which is routinely done when Malaysian companies sell major assets. The “freeze” had disrupted the flow of agreed development funds and led to major production delays. From the start of May, Lotus will be producing Elises, Exiges and Evoras at a combined weekly rate of 44 cars.

It will continue to invest in developing the Esprit, its own-design V8 engine and new automated manual transmission. For now, the other new models will have to be put on hold. However, Lotus expects to conduct the launch of a minimum of three improved versions of current models in time for this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed, in June, as the “chosen” marquee for this year.

Lotus is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year. It also marks the 50th anniversary of the date when the first Lotus Elan was launched. Bahar rejects recent claims made by local MP Richard Bacon during a parliamentary debate that the business consultancy KPMG is looking for a buyer in China for the company.

Bahar said, “It’s just not true.” He denies the presence of a fire sale or a bidding. He also said that no selling procedure has been done. He said that he doesn’t have any authority to sell Lotus since he is only an employee and not a shareholder.

Just days ago, South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon revealed that DRB-Hicom was searching for a Chinese company to buy the engineering group and sports car maker. Bacon’s constituency covers Lotus’ headquarters in Hethel. He was present during a recent hour-long parliamentary debate on Lotus’ fate.

According to Bacon, KPMG has been tapped to serve as a “corporate salesman” to find a new owner for Lotus. He remarked that the decision about the sale was disclosed right before the debate. The debate was attended by MPs from nearby constituencies. The government was represented by Mark Prisk, who serves as minister of state for business, innovation and skills.

Prisk said during the debate that the government is seeing the need to “keep talking at all levels on this important issue.” He remarked that that a £10 million grant to help Lotus with its expansion plans had been placed “on hold” since it was acquired by DRB-Hicom acquisition.

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