Under new ownership and management come new agendas. China-based Geely which has successfully transformed Volvo thinks it can repeat history with its latest acquisition, Hethel, UK-based Lotus sports cars. If successful, the renaissance would mark a massive shift for the British brand.
A few months ago, Geely acquired a controlling stake in Lotus. Although no product details have been shared, Lotus managers are working on an extensive business plan to help transform the niche British brand into a credible alternative to German or Italian premium merchandise.
In an interview with media, Geely boss An Cong Hui said: “We are making plans. We want to bring back the heritage of Lotus to be one of the top performers in the luxury sports car segment. Lotus used to be ranked alongside Ferrari and Porsche, so we need to come back in that rank again.”
Historically, Lotus’ turn-around plans have always been wildly optimistic, but market analysts believe that with the involvement of cash-rich Geely which also has a successful track record of reviving sick entities could be best thing that has happened for Lotus in recent times.
What is sure for now is that the product portfolio will be widened and a SUV is on the cards. At the launch of the Lynk&Co 01 in China last week, Hui hinted how important his new subsidiary is and that beyond SUV plans, Geely is determined to regain Lotus 60s status making sports cars, and also sees strong growth potential in the brand.
What Lotus lacked in the past was investments, credible management and vision. The downfall of the brand happened after ex- Ferrari executive Dany Bahar took charge in 2009. Bahar’s plan was to drive the brand up-market into the expanding global luxury goods sector, effectively away from the company’s traditional light weight and pure driving experience simplicity. This idea ran into trouble and Bahar was subsequently removed from his job in 2012 amidst charges of professional malpractices. Bahar’s replacement CEO Aslam Farikullah cancelled Bahar’s plans for several new models. The bright point of Lotus’ aging fleet of sports cars is that its models have continued with the famous “light is right” ethos. Another strong point is the engineering division continues to serve the industry independently.