Lotus Might One Day Build its Cars in China

Posted June 25, 2017

Chinese automaker Geely recently acquired a 49.9 percent stake in Malaysian automaker Proton, which has owned Lotus since 1996.

The deal was valued at 460.3 million ringgit (108 million USA dollars), including a cash injection of 170.3 million ringgit into Proton by Geely, and a sports utility vehicle platform that is worth 290 million ringgit, DRB-Hicom Managing Director Syed Faisal Albar told a press conference following the signing ceremony.

Geely recently said it will give Proton access to its Geely Boyue SUV platform, as part of its deal with the Chinese automaker. We hope that through our cooperation with DRB-Hicom, Proton will be transformed into the number one independent automobile brand in Malaysia and one of the top three in southeast Asia. Geely, the Chinese owner of Sweden's Volvo Cars, will inject 170.3 million ringgit ($40 million) into Malaysia's Proton as part of its purchase of a stake in the automaker and is paying 51 million pounds ($65 million) for 51 percent of Proton-owned British sports auto maker Lotus, an executive of the Malaysian company said Friday.

When asked about the branding coordination between Geely and Proton, Li said Proton will be targeting the Southeast Asian market.

Geely's Chairman Li Shufu also highlighted that his priority is to turn Proton and Lotus into a profitable entities.

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"But that is the people's money and it would have been irresponsible for us to continue with a business model that was never going to succeed", he said in his speech at the signing ceremony between DRB-Hicom and Geely Holding.

"We will work together to make the most of our respective strengths to ensure a bright and sustainable future for both brands based on mutual respect and trust".

Prime Minister Najib Razak said Proton has been "hobbled by an out-of-date, inward looking and commercially unworkable idea of what constitutes success for a national carmaker".

Najib said the government extended the loan to Proton because, had the carmaker shut down, 10,000 employees would have become jobless, and the eco-system surrounding Proton, which accounts for some 200,000 jobs, would have suffered.

"We believe it will not take a long time because we have strong confidence in the growth of the Malaysian automotive market, and also in Proton", he said. Under a government-led turnaround plan, Proton will sell its Shah Alam plant and consolidate operations in Tanjung Malim, which has an annual capacity of 350,000 cars.