HRB-Hicom is planning to sell shares in Proton to another automaker, and Lotus might be up for sale, too.
Lotus might soon have a new owner because of the failing health of its parent – the Malaysian automaker Proton. DRB-Hicom, which owns both companies, is searching for potential buyers. According to Automotive News Europe, it’s not yet clear whether Lotus would be part of a future sale with Proton, would be sold separately, or if DRB-Hicom would retain control over the British sports car maker.
After a rough patch, Lotus is currently going through a rebuilding period. CEO Jean-Marc Gales pledges the 2016/2017 financial year would show the first profit after 20 years of losses. The company is also making a tentative return to the United States by selling a few models there. In addition, a joint venture in China should result in a crossover around 2020. A new generation of the Elise might arrive at roughly the same time.
Until new platforms can arrive, Lotus to squeeze performance out existing models. The Elise Cup 250, Exige Sport 350, and Evora Sport 410 show that the company can still cut weight and boost output from these aging products.
The situation at Proton isn’t as positive, though. According to Automotive News Europe, DRB-Hicom contacted almost 20 automakers and expressed interest in selling a stake in Proton, possibly even a majority share. PSA Group, Renault, Suzuki, and potentially others are investigating the deal.
These companies are mainly interested in Proton’s two factories in Malaysia that are running under capacity, according to Automotive News Europe. The purchase would give the new owner an immediate hub for exporting models to other markets in Southeast Asia. The Proton plants built 102,000 vehicles last year but had the ability to build 400,000.
Source: Automotive News Europe