This just in from the BBC, AutoNews, FT, and numerous other UK news sources, British sports car maker Lotus is being bought by China’s Geely. A statement was put out by the Hangzhou-based company. There is no notice as of yet from Lotus themselves.
The purchase is part of a deal by Geely to buy a 49.9% stake in Malaysian carmaker Proton, which owns Lotus. Geely, which also owns the London Taxi Company and Sweden’s Volvo Car Group, will take a 51% stake in Lotus.
Lotus had been essentially locked out of the critical United States in 2015 when their airbags failed to comply with new car safety regulations, but Lotus returned to the American market last summer. At the Geneva car show in March, Lotus unveiled the revamped Evora 400 model, which complies with US regulations.
The stake in Proton is expected to give Geely access to the southeast Asian market, where it wants to use Volvo technologies to reclaim market share. Proton also gives Geely access to right-hand-drive markets around the world, including Malaysia, the UK, India, and Australia.
Lotus, which made a loss of £27.6m in the 12 months ending on March 31, 2016, is a leader in composite materials and lightweight technology, which Geely will look to deploy across its vehicles to help them meet stringent emissions targets in China.
Proton bought Lotus from failed visionary Romano Artioli back in 1996, using the British know-how mostly to update whatever ancient technology they had to work with throughout the years. Now, that struggle is likely to be over very soon.
Daniel Donghui Li, chief financial officer of Geely holdings, said:
Reflecting our experience accumulated through Volvo Car’s revitalisation, we also 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.