Following the Malaysian Government’s move to offload its stake in Proton to DRB-Hicom the car maker is denying the inevitable rumours that it wants to sell iconic sports car maker Lotus.
Proton has released an official statement, which reads in part: “We are aware of the many concerns of the different parties related to Protonâ€”especially our business partners, with regards to the current plans and future direction of the Group and all its subsidiaries, including its UK-based Lotus Group International Limited (LGIL).
“Our new incoming owner is in discussions with the current management of Proton to get a clear understanding and assessment of the Groupâ€™s current business plans, before any strategic future plans can be mapped out, including the plans for our Lotus subsidiary.”
You may recall Lotus grabbed the headlines at the 2010 Paris Motor Show with audacious plans to effectively relaunch the brand with five all-new models: Elan, Elise, Elite, Esprit and Eterne. Lotus said all models, except the Eterne, would be in production by 2015, with the Elan and Esprit due for release next year.
Despite their recent ownership changes Proton say their transformation plan is on schedule: “Our focus remains the same for all our current business plans and this includes Lotusâ€™ commitment in realising its current five-year business transformation plan, of which we are happy to report, is right on track,” the official statement continued.
“As such, business is as usual for us and all our subsidiaries and we thank them for their professionalism and patience during this time.”
Sales in the UK, Lotus’ largest market, dropped by 41% last year and tallied a meagre 329 sales. That drop in cash flow and persistent annual losses must weigh heavily on Proton’s upper management.