Is VW going to buy Lotus?

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...


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Comments (432) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Megaflow 24 Jul 2012

    Ok, this story just gets stranger. VW & Lotus... Who saw *that* coming?

  • Numeric 24 Jul 2012

    I rather think that VW would argue they have the sports car field covered with Porsche in the £35k+ segment so they would have to see Lotus as a £20-50k segment manufacturer to make sense.

    Trouble is to an extent that is what Seat were supposed to be up to in the great VW brand book. But it hasn't worked and I do think that VW could leverage Lotus into the Seat brand in some way.

    Trouble is it needs an offshoot in Norfolk like it needs another juxxy - so I would be concerned that they would just shut the place down and use the brand name in other areas.

  • Scuffers 24 Jul 2012

    with respect, exactly what have Lotus got that VW does not already have?

    I would suggest the last thing they need is Lotus Engineering, they have more than enough capabilities in-house already.

    As for Lotus cars, once again, what would they do with them?

  • 300bhp/ton 24 Jul 2012

    Based on what VW have done to other marques I think this would either ruin Lotus for good, or they'll be out on their ear in the cold. Can't see VW having a positive influence on Lotus.

  • Johnboy Mac 24 Jul 2012

    Scuffers said:
    As for Lotus cars, once again, what would they do with them?
    A fair question, then again buying Proton (and thus Lotus) would no doubt be small change to VW, aided by the fact Proton & VW are already in business together. Maybe a buy out would assist VW's plans to be the biggest - world domination & all that. Better Lotus in VW's hands that Proton would be my layman's view.

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