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Rumors of the sale of Lotus by its Malaysian parent company Proton have increased steadily since the appointment of CEO Dany Bahar, who has done little to dissuade the rumors. Rather than a sign of instability, Proton has committed to funding the “new Lotus”, and Bahar’s actions have helped keep the small sports car maker in the headlines.
The latest rumor mongering comes from AutoCar, which quotes Bahar as admitting, “Proton could sell Lotus.” In an interview Bahar outlines three clear paths proton could take, “Proton could keep Lotus, float it off or sell it outright.”
Far from speculating, Bahar is simply spelling out reality, commenting that, “It would be quite understandable if an owner that has invested so much wanted to see a return on its investment, especially if the buyer were a major car maker that could back Lotus for the long term.”
Any return on investment won’t happen, however, until Bahar has built Lotus into a desirable company, one that makes money and one that sells cars consumers really want to buy. At last year’s Paris Auto Show, Lotus unveiled its plan for the future, with numerous new models starting with the Esprit, which is set to launch next year.
GALLERY: Lotus Esprit Concept
The New Year may be just around the corner, but it’s never too early to spread some rumors. Proton Holdings is believed to be seriously considering the sale of their Lotus sports car division, a brand that has never made a profit for the Malaysian-based company.
Proton originally purchased the British sports car brand in 1996, but it seemed like a mismatch from the start. Proton specializes in manufacturing sedans and taxis in their home market while Lotus aspires to produce thrilling sports cars. Perhaps the goal was to have a more complete portfolio for Proton, but the lack of profits from Lotus has begun to take its toll.
Even with the new changes Lotus has been making – releasing the above City Car for example – it’s believed that the automaker won’t have the money to fund its future plans, which could be another reason for Proton to sell. There has been reports that China-based Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. and Luxembourg-based Genii Capital were interested in purchasing Lotus, but both have denied those rumors.
Last year Lotus only sold 1,985 vehicles. It is estimated that they need to sell around 8,000 to turn a profit – yikes.