Speculation surrounding the future of Group Lotus isn’t new, but intensified to a new level late last week when the English automaker announced CEO Dany Bahar was suspended from the company.
A statement issued from the automaker late last week read “Group Lotus can confirm that, following an operational review, chief executive Bahar has been temporarily suspended from his role to facilitate an investigation into a complaint about his conduct made by Lotus’ penultimate parent company, DRB-Hicom Berhad.”
The precise reason behind Bahar’s removal is still unknown, and varies from source to source. Motor Trend says a Lotus insider claims DRB-Hicom might be reviewing Bahar’s compensation. Others suggest the suspension is merely temporary, and Bahar could be reinstated if DRB’s board find no evidence of wrongdoing.
Regardless, this isn’t the first tense moment to emerge between Lotus management and DRB Hicom, the Malasian auto consortium that recently purchased Proton, the automaker that purchased Lotus in 1996. Earlier this year, Lotus was forced to enter a 60-day development freeze as a result of the purchase, which threatened timing of the company’s revived Esprit program. According to Motor Trend, the company was allocated nearly $79 million to further ready five new car designs for production, but little has actually been spent according to plan.
Though rumors of a forthcoming sale continue to grow, Proton continues to insist it has no plans on selling Lotus. A release issued by the company states it – along with DRB-Hicom – “acknowledge that Lotus can provide value to Proton,” and that “both Proton and DRB-Hicom will continue to review the existing business plans and financial position of Lotus in taking the company forward in the immediate to medium-term.”