Geely – the Chinese auto manufacturer who owns Volvo and the London Taxi Company – has bought Lotus, the famed sports car brand from Hethel, England. In a move worth £100 million, Geely Holding Group acquired 51% of Lotus, with Etika Automotive acquiring the remaining 49%. In the same deal, Geely acquired 49.9% shares in Proton – the Malaysian manufacturer that formerly owned Lotus. For some this may spark concerns over the future of the sports car brand, but Geely buying the controlling shares in Lotus might just be the best thing that could happen.
Whilst the purchase of shares in Proton doesn’t really affect us – Proton has been out of the country for several years now – petrolheads will be keen to see what becomes of Lotus. It’s not all bad news though, as anyone who has followed Volvo’s rise to fame will tell you. Geely acquired Volvo in 2010, and whilst there were fears of the brand becoming cheapened, they’ve done anything but. Volvo has grown from strength to strength thanks to greater funding and technological development empowered by Geely.
Lotus could be the next brand to benefit from the deep pockets of the Geely. In a release on the sale, Geely stated “We aim to unleash the full potential of Lotus Cars and bring it into a new phase of development by expanding and accelerating the rolling out of new products and technologies.”
The Lotus brand has been stuck in limbo for the last decade, producing quality cars such as the Evora, Exige, and Elise, but never really re-inventing themselves in the way many had envisioned them to. There was talk of a new Ferrari-bating mid-engined supercar, carrying the Esprit badge. It was to be powered by a supercharged version of the Lexus 5.0-litre V8, generating in excess of 450kW.
That idea died though, despite being mid-way through an extensive development process, and Lotus seemed to be stagnating – surviving of their staple of lightweight track-focused cars such as the Elise and Exige.
Now with Geely’s financial resources, there is new hope for the brand to ‘pull a Volvo’ and reinvent themselves through new development of platforms, drivetrains, and other technologies. It remains to be seen whether they will be able to piggyback off some of Volvo’s development or not, but the future for Lotus is certainly brighter now than it has been for a long while.