Lotus parent company Proton has signed an agreement with Chinese industrial firm Goldstar to form a new joint venture, whose aim will be to eventually manufacture “Lotus-branded passenger cars” in China. Proton’s links with Goldstar date back more than a decade but this is the first time the Malaysian automaker’s premium marque, Lotus, has been tied with the Chinese firm.

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According to a statement released by Lotus, the collaboration seeks to accelerate the expansion of the Lotus brand in China, not only in terms of sales but also in the areas of research and development and eventually manufacturing. The research and development will focus on the area of efficient technology, which attracts major incentives from the Chinese government.

As for the manufacturing of Lotus cars in China, Lotus states that its current range of sports cars (Evora, Exige and Elise) will exclusively be built at its headquarters in Hethel, England, meaning we’re likely to see the new joint venture build a new generation of more practical Lotus models, starting with a new SUV.

Right now, Lotus has only confirmed that new joint venture will build and sell Lotus cars for the Chinese market. It’s not clear yet if the Chinese-built cars will eventually be exported to other markets.

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Note, Lotus already sells its sports cars in China, though the numbers remain low. Last year, for example, Lotus sold just 80 cars in the country, out of its total production run of just over 2,000 cars. Part of the reason is because sedans and SUVs are much more popular in China than low-slung sports cars, which is why Lotus is so keen to develop  new, more practical models.

"China has appeared to be the top key growth market for Lotus exports and is expected to grow at a very fast rate,” Lotus CEO Jean-Marc Gales said in a statement. “Lotus Group is excited about the opportunities of this new joint venture."


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