Lotus Cars founder, Colin Chapman died of a heart attack in 1982, aged 54. Then in 1986 Lotus was acquired by General Motors, and this business relationship did not last long and after 7 years Lotus Cars was sold to Italian entrepreneur Romano Artioli, who also owned luxury car brand Bugatti.
Malaysian car maker Proton assumed control in 1996, before itself becoming owned by Malaysian conglomerate DRB-Hicom in 2012. This is why the announcement late last month that Lotus Cars was bought by China’s Geely was greeted as such good news.
Geely said it aims to “unleash the full potential of Lotus Cars and bring it into a new phase of development by expanding and accelerating the rolling out of new products and technologies.”
Lotus needs money to finance a new version of its core Elise sports car, which can trace its roots back to the first Elise launched in 1996.
Geely has already revived Volvo Cars and owns the London Taxi Co., which has started production of a hybrid electric black cab that borrows technology used by Volvo. The Elise Sprint is part of Lotus’ limited lineup that could expand under Geely’s ownership.
Despite the vast differences between a six-seat London taxi and a two-seat Lotus sports car, the two share a goal in keeping weight as low as possible. To this end, Lotus cars and the new black cab are built on a bonded aluminum chassis. In fact the chassis for the new black cab and forthcoming hybrid van was developed by Lotus’ former finance director, Andy Tempest.
Using Geely’s available part suppliers, technology and even some chassis elements would bring down the cost of developing a new platform for Lotus.
Like London Taxi Co., Lotus could tap Volvo’s supplier network for less money than Lotus could negotiate independently. Volvo’s four-cylinder and three-cylinder turbo engines could replace Lotus’ current Toyota supplied engines and Lotus could quickly electrify future vehicles by using Volvo’s parts suppliers for batteries, electric motors and e-axles. Lotus could also could use Volvo’s electrical platforms to incorporate the latest infotainment (center dashboard smart screen tablet) and safety technology.