- Alfa Romeo
- Aston Martin
- Land Rover
Europe’s largest automaker is considering of putting in a new bid for Malaysia’s Proton in order to tap into the growing southeast Asian market. But perhaps the more interesting story here is that Proton owns iconic British sports car maker Lotus, which could consequently put the Lotus brand under Volkswagen‘s already impressive umbrella of brands that includes likes of Bentley, Lamborghini and Bugatti.
Earlier warning signs were brought to attention this year when Lotus’ Malaysian parent company Proton sold a controlling stake to another Malaysian conglomerate, DRB-Hicom. As per Malaysian law, Lotus had to halt all business operations and freeze its financial accounts during the 60-day transition period.
Such is the mix of fortunes in motorsports. A long and illustrious name in Formula 1, the Lotus F1 team withdrew from the series in 1994 and only returned in 2010. However, while Syed Zainal Abidin Tahir, managing director of Lotus parent company Proton, and Lotus CEO Dany Bahar are both appointed team board members, ownership of the F1 team in fact belongs to Luxembourg-based private equity firm Genii Capital. Now, between Lotus and Genii Capital, the future of the team is up for grabs.
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.
Lotus and its parent company, Proton, will be releasing their City Car to rival the new Aston Martin Cygnet and will be a production version of the Ethos concept originally seen at the Paris Auto Show. The vehicle will first be offered as a Proton, with the Lotus version coming at a later date with a higher price tag.
Amidst all the sexy and exciting sports cars Lotus unveiled at the Paris Auto Show last year, tucked away in a back corner was the Emas Concept. A small city car, it was perhaps the most likely of the concepts, combining the automaker’s talents for light weight vehicles with nimble handling, wrapped up in an affordable package that could produce real volume sales and bring Lotus to profitability.
And as such, he is planning to appeal the ruling and eliminate the confusion: “it is inevitable that the similarity of the names Lotus and Team Lotus will cause confusion not only amongst F1 supporters and the wider public,” he said, “but also amongst F1 commentators who use the word ‘Lotus’ interchangeably for both teams.”