Bold new future plans are starting to emerge at Lotus as Geely’s investment opens up new opportunities for the famous British marque
The first details of Lotus’ brave new world under Geely ownership are starting to emerge. In an interview with the Financial Times, new boss Phil Popham confirmed that Geely are pumping ‘billions’ into the famed British sports car maker, despite the report of mounting financial losses.
Popham, recruited from Sunseeker yachts at the end of last year, but familiar to the car industry from his time as a senior exec at Jaguar Land Rover, also highlighted the need to “broaden the appeal” of Lotus sports cars if the firm was to grow sales volumes to a 5,000 per year from a current figure of below 2,000 cars.
While that may set alarm bells ringing amongst die-hard Lotus enthusiasts, Popham also stressed the value of the firm’s DNA around lightness and driver reward. In time, it’s expected that those qualities will be applied to vehicles outside of the company’s traditional markets; a performance SUV or a sports saloon, although that could be a little way off yet.
Geely’s investment will see the number of engineers working at Hethel rise to 500, up from 180 at the time of the takeover. The site also now has approval for a new customer centre and museum, with production facilities – including greater automation – expected to receive investment, too. Once the model range has expanded, expect Lotus to look for additional production facilities elsewhere.
With access to the considerable and varied resources of Geely and its brands, notably Volvo and Polestar, it’s not just the financial investment that’s opening up possibilities for Lotus: now we await news on what four-wheeled form they may take.