At least for Lotus sports cars. A future SUV is a different story.
A few days ago we reported that in light of Lotus parent company Proton being sold to Chinese automaker Geely, there was a possibility Lotus production would move from the UK to China. According to Autocar, who picked up a report from the Eastern Daily Press, Geely chairman Li Shufu has denied this will happen. Shufu previously stated that the priority is to make both Lotus and Proton profitable and to sustain growth with new technology trends. Why can’t this be done, in the case of Lotus, in the UK?
Of course it can be, and Shufu agrees. "This is just like what we have done with London Taxi Company, engineer in Britain, design in Britain, built in Britain. We see no reason to move 50 years of combined experience to China – let them do what they do best – in Britain," Shufu stated. "Geely is fully committed to revitalizing the Lotus brand which will include new investment and a widened car range," and furthermore to make "the Lotus brand a global one, staying true to the brand’s heritage." To the credit of current CEO Jean-Marc Gales, Lotus, over the past year, has generated a profit for the first time in 20 years. Geely also owns Volvo, which it purchased from Ford a few years ago.
What appears to be happening for Lotus and the UK is the same for Volvo, with production and its headquarters staying in Sweden. Looking ahead, however, it’s still entirely possible future Lotus models, such as the rumored SUV, could be built in China for a variety of reasons. Autocar notes that a Chinese facility would translate to lower production costs and, therefore, greater profits. The SUV market also happens to be hot in China and less so in the UK or mainland Europe, so it wouldn’t make much sense for a Lotus SUV to be manufactured in Hethel. But the most important thing here is that Geely will let Lotus continue being Lotus in the UK, designing, engineering and building some of the finest sports and track cars on the planet.