Lotus' future is safe

23 Oct, 2012 4:13pm Ken Gibson

DRB-HICOM's Aslam Farikullah gives assurances that Lotus production will stay in Britain

The new Malaysian owners of Lotus have talked in detail for the first time of their plans for the famous sports car brand.

And while the Esprit is still on track for production, the other four new models revealed at the Paris Motor Show two years ago have been axed.

There’s good news for the 1,189 British jobs at Lotus, though, as chief operating officer of DRB-HICOM, Aslam Farikullah, denied his company planned to either sell Lotus or move production abroad.

He stressed: “Lotus is a UK marque and as such Hethel is our home. Not only is Lotus important to the UK economy, but also to the region here in Norfolk.”

Farikullah also confirmed he was committed to turning Lotus around after sacking chief executive Dany Bahar and halting the new model blitz. The priority now is to concentrate on getting the quality right on the current Elise, Exige and Evora models.

“We have to be realistic and get the basic fundamentals of the business right. Then we will look at the next products. We are excited about the future and plan to grow the business,” he said.

But Lotus is in a position of turmoil. Sales in the UK have been hit by the uncertainty, with just 118 cars sold in nine months, although Lotus has shipped 700 cars abroad.

Two years ago, Lotus stunned the Paris show by announcing plans to build five new sports cars. This year, Lotus didn’t even exhibit at Paris, and has been in the news for all the wrong reasons after its new owners sacked Bahar and other senior staff.

Bahar has filed a £6.7million claim against DRB for unfair dismissal, and two senior managers are also taking Lotus to an industrial tribunal.

Bahar said: “At all times I acted within the limits of my authority or with the complete approval of the Lotus board. I believe I have done nothing wrong.”