The future of group Lotus has been thrown into doubt following the sale of its parent company proton.
It is understood that proton’s, and therefore Lotus’, new owner DrB-Hicom is conducting a full-scale review of activities that could result in the loss-making car manufacturer being sold off. DrB-Hicom’s managing director has said that he is keeping his options open regarding the potential sale of the company. A Lotus spokesperson told Motor Sport: “It’s no secret that we are going through a very difficult time at the moment due to the change in ownership but we’re doing everything we can to get through this period and come out the other side stronger than before.” He went on to categorically deny rumours that production had stopped or that CEO Dany Bahar had left the company.
In recent years group Lotus has been subject to relentless scrutiny, stemming from the appointment in 2009 of ex-Ferrari marketing man Bahar and the ive-year recovery plan he announced the following year. that called for five new models to be produced in that time, including a new Esprit and Elise, a front-engined GT using the elite name and a four-door supersaloon called the Eterne. The fifth car is a small city car named ethos.
In the meantime the fortunes of Lotus cars have been hit hard by the mixed critical reception of the evora and resulting slow sales plus the age of the elise and its Exige spin off, the original design of which is already some distance past its 15th birthday.
Lotus is known to have accrued considerable debts thanks to money spent on the new car programmes and the transformation of its Hethel track into a modern FIA-specification
testing facility. it is that sum that is likely to be the biggest stumbling block to any potential future sale of the company.
Of the new cars, only the esprit is believed to be in an advanced state of development, with the inal production version scheduled to be shown this time next year.