Lotus mulls second U.K. plant, could build SUV in China
Lotus is preparing for an expansion under Chinese owner Geely Automobile that could see the British automaker open a second U.K. factory and target new markets by building higher-volume models in China.
Lotus plans to triple output at its base in Hethel, eastern England, to slightly more than 5,000 cars a year and could reach 10,000 if it adopts a double-shift work pattern, Lotus Ceo Phil Popham said. Further increases might require a new plant elsewhere in the country he said.
Popham described Lotus as a "70-year-old startup" after the launch of its first new car in 10 years. The 1.7 million-pound ($2.1 million) all-electric Evija will be followed by a solely combustion-engine model to be revealed in 2020, after which all subsequent cars will have electric variants, possibly skipping a hybrid option which the Ceo said can add too much weight for a sports design.
Lotus's 10-year growth plan includes an expansion into new segments, Popham said after unveiling the Evija at an event in London. That could include anything from an SUV through a crossover model to a sedan.
The company made 1,632 cars in 2018 and expects to top 1,700 this year.
Geely Chief Technical Officer Feng Qingfeng told journalists that while Lotus's core sports lineup would continue to be built in the UK, higher-volume models could be made in China.
«The manufacturing location depends on the local advantage. The UK is good at making hand-made cars, so sports and hypercars. In China we may have more advantage in infrastructure for mass-production cars» he said.