Tuesday 24th July 2012


IS VW GOING TO BUY LOTUS?

Volkswagen wants a presence in Asia, could get Lotus as part of a bundle deal to buy Proton


The multi-part drama that is Lotus took another twist today on news that VW is considering buying Lotus parent company Proton.

The information is sketchy and hasn't been confirmed by VW or Proton, but normally reliable news agency Reuters quotes a source as saying that VW wants the company to increase its foothold in the huge SE Asian market. VW has tried to buy Proton before and if it's successful this time, of course it would mean the German giant would get to plant its flag on a little piece of Norfolk.

The question then is, what would VW do with Lotus?

There's some great product there...
There's some great product there...
It already owns Lamborghini and Porsche, of course, but there's no reason to think it wouldn't want another specialist brand. For a start VW is on a massive buying spree at the moment, most recently pocketing Ducati and the remainder of Porsche it didn't already own.

The Lotus Engineering side to the company would be enormously valuable to VW and the Wolfsburg wallet is regularly opened to snap up firms and sites that help improve the saleability of its cars, most notably styling house Giugiaro in 2010 and, via Porsche earlier this year, the Nardo high-speed testing ground in southern Italy.

So VW might as well keep on making sports cars at Hethel. Cash from astonishing Chinese sales, mostly notably VWs and Audis, means the firm is swimming in investment money to make it happen.

But even if Lotus stays with new Proton owners DRB-Hicom, or the VW input is watered down to a share of the Malaysian operations (DRB already builds Passats for VW) then there's still good news for Hethel.

Last week DRB executives visited Norfolk and confirmed they were still committed to making a go of it. According to Lotus, DRB put in £100m earlier this year and will put in another £100m next year.

In a statement, the boss of both DRB and Proton (deep breath) Dato' Sri Haji Mohd Khamil Jamil said, "We reaffirm our full and long-term commitment to raise Lotus to the next level of success."

He also said that Lotus was "destined to join the ranks of the great luxury performance brands of the world," although the fate of the 2010 Paris show cars is still unknown.

What do you think? Could Lotus thrive under VW? The floor is open...

 

Author: NickGibbs
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