Lotus' Chinese production plans begin to firm

Lotus' Chinese production plans begin to firm

The Chinese owner of Lotus, Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, is planning to start the production of the sports vehicle brand in China with the opening of a new factory in Wuhan city, which is worth 9 billion yuan (US$1.3 billion), as indicated by government documents and company job advertisements.

The move is in line with Geely's ambitions to build more up-market cars and throw off its reputation for copycat designs and shoddy quality. For Lotus, this could seemingly indicate higher production volumes along with new models like SUVs for boosting sales.

"For Geely, going high-end can help it take more market share", Alan Kang, a Shanghai based analyst at LMC Automotive, told Reuters.

In a statement to China Daily on Thursday, Geely said: "Lotus Cars is undergoing an exciting resurgence with the backing of Geely, and expanding the brand's manufacturing footprint globally is a key part of the company's strategy".

When contacted by Reuters, Lotus replied in an email that "details on additional locations and models will be confirmed in due course".

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Geely is planning to open a production facility for its line of Lotus sports cars in Wuhan City, Hubei Province.

However, the new plant could allow Lotus to follow the lead of other super auto makers like Lamborghini and Ferrari and build its first-ever sport-utility vehicle.

The plant has been approved to build various types of vehicles, from traditional combustion cars to hybrids and all-electric vehicles. Government regulators approved Geely's request to build a plant in Wuhan in late 2018, and documents posted online point to an initial annual capacity of 150,000 cars. Geely reportedly sold 1,630 Lotus units worldwide in 2018.

Famed for sporty vehicles such as the two-seater Elise, James Bond drove a Lotus Esprit Turbo in the 1981 film For Your Eyes Only.

One of the sources said Geely wanted to emulate premium carmakers like Porsche, whose luxury SUV models were selling well in China.