Lotus' new owner, Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, the Chinese company that turned around Volvo and made Polestar a high-end EV brand, has ambitious plans in store for the sports car manufacturer from Hethel.
The goal is to transform Lotus into a proper Porsche rival, by launching high-volume models and using the profits for sports car development. At the top of the agenda is an SUV, which Geely Chairman Li Shufu last year said could be built in China.
Now evidence of Geely's plans for production of Lotus cars in China has surfaced.
2016 Lotus Elise Race 250
Reuters on Thursday reported on approval plans for a $1.3 billion plant to be constructed in the city of Wuhan, in China's Hubei province, based on information found in company job advertisements and local government websites.
A website for the planning authority of Hubei revealed an annual production capacity of 150,000 units for the plant, while a website for the Wuhan Development Zone revealed that the plant will be used for “Geely's Lotus project.”
When contacted by Reuters, Lotus replied in an email that “details on additional locations and models will be confirmed in due course.”
Lotus Esprit concept
Geely is thought to be investing as much as $2 billion in Lotus, which includes upgrading the company's headquarters in Hethel, United Kingdom, where production of sports cars will likely remain.
Lotus is expected to introduce two sports cars first, to replace the aging Elise and Exige, and then will likely move on to the SUV. Rumors of additional models including a limited-edition electric hypercar and a second SUV have also made the rounds in the recent past.
In 2018, Lotus sold just 1,630 cars worldwide, which was the company's best result since 2011. It's clear Geely has a long way to go in its transformation of the British sports car brand.