News : Lotus recruitment – the corner turned?

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

David Ross, honestjohn.co.uk

Lotus Esprit (1)

Could Lotus be on the up again? The news that the Norfolk-based sports car manufacturer is recruiting for 100 new roles is a hopeful sign that the firm is on an even keel. Along with 18 graduates, Lotus is looking for 45 specialist engineers and 40 manufacturing operatives.

Only months ago, the firm had to deny rumours that it was going into liquidation with reports that it was facing legal action from a number of suppliers over unpaid bills. Lotus was acquired by Malaysian firm DRB-Hicom when the latter bought parent company Proton Holdings in January 2012 – a move which meant a welcome end to the embarrassment of having Lotus badges stuck on Proton cars.

But those rumours were seemingly unfounded and now Lotus is looking to expand. The creation of new jobs is part of a £100 million investment with the aim of developing new products, providng engineering consultancy and focussing on global markets. According to the firm, 90 per cent of its cars are currently exported.

Aslam Farikullah, Chief Operating Officer at Lotus, said, ‘It’s been a period of substantial change at Lotus and we are now in a strong position to expand our work on future products and to increase production in our manufacturing facilities. We want Lotus to be at the forefront of the global automotive industry and for us to remain competitive, we will introduce more exciting products.’

The news will be a welcome relief to Lotus, which over the past few years has suffered a series of embarrassments. There was the 2010 Paris Motor Show where the firm unveiled not one, but five new cars, all with groundbreaking technology, as part of a five year plan. Unsurprisingly, those ambitious plans haven’t made it to fruition, although the manufacturer is still working on one of those cars – the new Esprit – pictured above and below.

And last year, Lotus was involved in a bizarre incident with satirical motoring site Sniff Petrol, with the Lotus PR office issuing a now infamous press release in response to a bit of light hearted Photoshopping. You can see the picture and read the toys-out-the-pram response here. Since then CEO Dany Bahar has been dismissed and is now taking DRB-Hicom to court over unfair dismissal, claiming £6.7m, in a case which will be heard next year.

Lotus Esprit (2)

Keith Adams

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and built it up to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007.

Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...

Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.
Keith Adams

18 Comments

  1. Fantastic to see a 21st century Esprit – now all we’ll need is to see it pull in its wheels, sprout fins and visit an underwater base!

  2. Knew this would happen, against a backdrop of negative comments on previous related posts.

    Good for Lotus.

  3. I always thought the five year plan was far too ambitious with too many models to make sense. A stripped down plan would make sense. Lotus need an Esprit.

  4. The 5 year plan was ludicrous, there was never a chance it could come to fruition. I’m just glad Lotus survived the disastrous Bahar era.

  5. So he may have been but it also takes two minuets to drown.

    Personally I think it is great news. Looks like they scraped through, which I’m happy about, I really thought we were going to loose Lotus-and that made me a bit sad.

  6. It occurred to me that Lotus might a wonderful fit with JLR for any number of reasons:

    1) Gerd Hildrebrand, something to do with BMW’s bloated impostor said that Britain’e engineering capacity was at full pelt and that was one of the reasons the Countryman had to be built in Austria. If that’s the case then a JLR-alliance with a world-class engineering outfit couldn’t hurt;

    2) Lotus has a decades old competence in wrangling aluminium – isn’t it Hethel who developed the VH platform for Aston Martin – and of course JLR is looking to do bigger things with alloy-construction;

    3) A relative handful of agile mid-engined cars is hardly going to overlap with JLR’s existing range. And in investment terms, making a new Elise/Evora/Esprit wouldn’t cost billions. It’s a marque ripe for exploitation. Properly handled, it could have real growth potential;

    4) JLR has a new four-cylinder unit on the way, a rather nice V6, and a fabulous supercharged V8. Always struck me as nonsense that Hethel was developing its own V8 for the new Esprit we’ve been hearing about for years (an engine that has now been canned); and

    5) Bahar’s plan may have been too ambitious but he might have been onto something. I’ve said it before but Hethel could be to JLR what AMG is to Mercedes. Lotus variants of the F-type, and XK could pretty much achieve all that Bahar was after, at minimal cost. Roll out Lotus variants of the new Range Rover, R-R Sport, XF, XJ and Evoque and it couldn’t hurt either JLR’s profile, or that of Lotus.

    All of which is not to mention motorsport – yes, I know the F1 team is completely unrelated to Group Lotus – and new technology (I’m thinking here of the alliance the two companies had on low-emissions tech and the Jaguar Limo Green.)

    Lots of synergies, then, if that isn’t dirty word after the whole BAe/Rover thing.

    Still, whatever happens, we need Lotus in our world.

  7. that Esprit is one nice looking car. there is an older Espirt in the city I live – I always get excited when I see it 🙂 Alex

  8. JLR would not touch Lotus with a bargepole, I dont even think they would take it if it were given to them, teh plain truth is that who ever has owned Lotus has never made a successful go of it, and it does not make significant profits for it to be a going concern long term.

    The Elise, Exige etc are just rehashed models on old floorpans and chassis set ups, the one hundred million given to them won’t last long, the entire factory setup needs to be re built, its old and inefficient.

    I wish that Lotus would make a great comeback, but teh fact that Bahar was allowed to do what he did shows a lack of corporate control, and I am sure the same lack of control will continue without significant cuts in costs and wastage, yet they want to employ 100 more people, at a rough estimate of £4 million per year, for a company thats not making profits is really weird.

    Their range is getting a bit long in the tooth and teh Esprit, if it ever comes will be old and out of date by teh time of release, which is a shame as it looks great, in fact the entire range looks fantastic, and they deserve to sell well and carry on the Lotus name, but i fear that unless a really big concern like Ford, GM (again) or even (heaven forbid) VW take control and really invest for the long term Lotus may not be around in the future.

  9. All lotus need to do is make a car normal people can fit and get in and out of.

    What wrong did Baher really do? get on a Learjet running around Grand Prix with his dick out? Or wanted to build exciting new cars like the badly needed Esprit?

    Was he really as bent as Romani Artolli? was it lack of corporate control or was it the heavy investment needed to build these car? i think we only got half the story and picture on his departure,these things tend to happen. Especially with gagging orders.

    Setting the car division aside, the engineering side of business is surely at the forefront,with its small capacity auxillary engines for Hybrids as well as all the other consultancy work it does.

  10. Just a quick point of information: as reported by our US-based Contributor, Chris Sawyer, in November 2012, Proton Holdings and Honda Motor have signed an agreement to explore opportunities to collaborate in technology and new product line-up.’ See Chris’ News Analysis: Can Honda rescue Lotus? at that link.

    Interestingly, by way of an update, the Malaysian National News Agency, Bernama, has today reported DRB-Hicom’s Managing Director, Tan Sri Mohd Khamil Jamil, as saying that Proton has completed the first phase of the discussion with Honda involving development of the cars and technologies. He continued:

    “We are looking into working on the second phase which involves the whole spectrum of development of cars and technology and we have to look into it very carefully.

    “Hopefully, by year-end, the initial product of our collaboration will be able to be seen by Malaysians.”

    See: DRB-Hicom To Tighten Lotus Distribution In China, Bernama, 9th August, 2013

    I reckon that must, in all probability, put Honda Motor in pole position for some form of JV with Group Lotus. Indeed, I wonder whether the guys at Honda R&D Americas, Inc. in Raymond, Ohio, who are currently leading global development of Honda’s next-generation NSX, have already had any input from their colleagues at Lotus Engineering…

  11. @13 jagboy Isn’t Lotus a dual purpose company – a 2) car maker and a 1) engineering research centre? Presumably Jaguar and Others use the engineering and research services from time to time, the cars produced I imagine might not be a significant earner for them. I don’t know though. alex

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