Geely Reportedly Considering $1.9 Billion Lotus Makeover

The investment plan is part of Billionaire Li Shufu’s grand vision to take Geely to the forefront of the auto industry rivalling Toyota Motor Corp and Volkswagen AG. — Handout via AFP

The investment plan is part of Billionaire Li Shufu’s grand vision to take Geely to the forefront of the auto industry rivalling Toyota Motor Corp and Volkswagen AG. — Handout via AFP

Geely has already done a creditable job of turning around the fortunes at Volvo, which it also owns, while also burnishing the brand that has long relied on its safety cred by adding a heaping helping of style and tech.

The Chinese automaker, which also controls Volvo Cars, plans to add production facilities and research centers for Lotus in the United Kingdom, one of the people said, asking not to be identified because the deliberations are private. However, as if pre-empting the fears of the Lotus faithful, Geely boss Li Shufu said the brand is very much still focused on the UK: "We see no reason to move fifty years of combined experience to China; let them do what they do best, in Britain".

"Geely is fully committed to restoring Lotus into being a leading global luxury brand", the automaker said in an email, declining to comment further. Calls to the office phone line of privately held Etika Automotive weren't answered. The company has spent more than $11 (£8.5 / €9.5) billion to revive Volvo and now it looks like it is Lotus' turn.

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Reports out of China point to Lotus' new owner Geely investing heavily in rejuvenating the fabled British marque, injecting the Hethel, England-based company with nearly $2 billion to expand its manufacturing, research and design facilities. In February, Li emerged to be the biggest shareholder in German luxury-car maker Daimler AG with an nearly 10 per cent stake. A new design and innovation center would join the plant, perhaps in Coventry. Two months ago, Geely had committed to a new United Kingdom design studio in Coventry, Geely said in its email. The idea behind this expansion is to work towards building Lotus as a luxury nameplate to compete with the likes of Porsche and Ferrari.

Li said previous year that Geely would consider producing Lotus sports cars in China. Sources close to the plans said Geely is in talks with its Malaysian partner Etika Automotive Sdn Bhd.to purchase more than the 51-percent stake in Lotus it now holds as well.

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