Geely is constructing a new $1.3-billion manufacturing plant in China, possible to build the first-ever Lotus SUV.
The Chinese automotive and industrial giant bought a majority stake in Lotus in 2017 and has been plotting a major overhaul for the brand that will be spearheaded by the introduction of the performance-focused SUV.
The new plant will be located in Wuhan, Hubei province and will have an annual capacity about 150,000 vehicles. It’s not clear if Geely will build other products other than the SUV at the facility, but China’s Wuhan Development Zone said production include vehicles under “Geely’s Lotus project.” Sources close to the matter told Reuters that the plant is likely to build the SUV only during its initial start-up phase.
In an emailed statement to the news agency, Lotus said “details on additional locations and models will be confirmed in due course.”
The automaker also said that its factory in Norfolk, UK would remain its manufacturing base going forward and that it must expand its manufacturing infrastructure in order to support the launch of new models and boost sales. Lotus sold 1,630 cars globally in 2018. In theory, the Norfolk, UK facility could be used to build low-volume sports cars, while the Chinese plant could handle mass-market vehicles like the SUV.
In 2017, patent drawings surfaced of a design proposal for the Lotus SUV. The design was of a medium-sized crossover with a Lotus grille, narrow headlights a rearward sloping roofline, a rear spoiler and other sporty elements. It’s expected to ride on the SPA architecture that currently underpins the Volvo XC90 and XC60 and may be offered with forced induction four- or six-cylinder engines. The Wuhan plant has been cleared to build internal combustion engine vehicles along with battery electric and hybrid vehicles.
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