Lotus car brand now owned by Chinese multinational Geely after takeover

By Stuart Hodge

Chinese motoring giant Geely Auto Holdings is now the owner of the prestige Lotus car brand after the company completed a takeover of Malaysia’s Proton holdings.

The company, founded and owned by Chinese Billionaire Li Shufu is aiming to increase its production output to three miliion cars each year, within five years, as well as satisfying their owner’s ambition to own a range of car brands across a variety of price ranges.

Geely is already the owner of Volvo and London taxis and the acquisition of the Lotus brand, coupled with access to 600 million Southeast Asian consumers and two production factories, makes the decision to buy 49.9 percent of Proton and a 51 percent stake in Lotus Cars a very shrewd move by the Chinese multinational. 

Tian Yongqiu is an independent auto consultant who tracks Chinese carmaker acquisitions and he reckons Geely’s acquisition of Lotus could work "like Volkswagen has Porsche and Toyota has its Lexus”.

He reckons the classic British brand could now begin to realise its potential, something it was unable to do under Proton’s previous ownership.

Tian told Bloomberg: “Geely has almost finished the puzzle for the global market: It has presence in Europe through Volvo, which can also go to the U.S. It must fill in the blank by breaking into Southeast Asia, which is dominated by Japanese small cars.

“It’s hard for Geely to break into this market on its own. But with Proton’s factory and massive network, it can be a short cut.”

Li and Geely made a risky takeover of Volvo in 2010 and managed to turn the company around in the face of widespread scepticism from much of the global automotive market, but the vast majority of commentators expect this latest move to succeed given the group's previous success.

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