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 |  Mar 13 2012, 11:45 AM

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It’s hard out there for a sports car manufacturer, especially if it is owned by a larger company.

Lotus has been owned by the Malaysian car company Proton since 1995, when the company was bought from the then bankrupting Bugatti (which itself got eventually bought out by VW).

Over the last 17-years, Lotus has not made a profit for its parent company. That was not such a big deal since Lotus was seen as more of a high-class brand name for the Malaysian state-owned Proton. However, just earlier this year, Proton sold its 42.7% stake in Lotus to DRB-Hicom, one of the largest private companies in Malaysia. Generally, private companies are much more concerned with making a profit rather than owning a company just for its prestige.

Now word comes from Lotus CEO Dany Bahar, that the future of Lotus’ production is in jeopardy, as development for new models like the updated Esprit have been suspended. In fact, Bahar was “completely taken aback” when he learned at the Geneva Auto Show, that the entire Proton group would enter a three-month “lockdown.”

That means, only normal trading activities would be allowed, hence all future developments have been suspended. This lockdown will even effect its recently announced models like the Exige S and the Evora GTE. The new Esprit will now likely be pushed to a 2014 launch, which means the concept would be nearly five-years old when it hits the road.

That is, if DRB-Hicom even decides to keep Lotus. Rumors suggest that they will want to off-load the unprofitable Lotus brand, which means Bahar has to find a savior for Lotus very quickly.

For now, Lotus’ motor sport activities, the opening of their new showroom on Regent Street in London, and its participation at this years Goodwood Festival of Speed as the featured marque will continue. Let’s hope Lotus can survive through its current dilemma.

GALLERY: Lotus Esprit

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[Source: Evo]