Malaysian automaker Proton, which bought Lotus in 1996, is finally receiving help from Lotus to develop a range of cars; a small city car shown at the Paris Motor Show last fall will be one of the cars shared by the two companies. Lotus needs a city car to help it meet new, more stringent fuel consumption regulations, just like Aston Martin needs the Toyota iQ-based Cygnet.
According to Danny Bahar, Lotus CEO, Proton “is getting the benefit [of owning Lotus] for the first time,” and he claims the new hatchback will look just like the concept, assuming it happens at all.
Lotus needs its five-year plan to succeed if it wants to survive in the long-term. Although owned by Proton, Bahar feels Lotus’s cars are too distant from Proton’s compact car lineup to be able to co-develop future cars that meet stricter emission and crash regulations.
Even though it’s not up to him, Bahar would like Proton to sell Lotus to a larger manufacturer such as Toyota. This would give Proton and other investors a way out. Toyota may be the smart way to go because of Lotus’s extensive use of Toyota engines in its current cars.