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British Lotus cars to be ‘Made in China’ at new Geely plant: documents

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The Chinese owner of Lotus plans to start producing the British sports car brand in China for the first time with the opening of a new 9 billion yuan ($1.3 billion) factory in Wuhan city, company job advertisements and government documents showed.

The previously unreported plans are Zhejiang Geely Holding Group’s [GEELY.UL] first move to shake up the British brand since its purchase of a majority stake in 2017.

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The move is in line with Geely’s ambitions to build more up-market cars and throw off its reputation for copycat designs and shoddy quality. For Lotus, it could mean greater production volumes and new models such as SUVs to boost sales.

“For Geely, going high-end can help it take more market share,” said Alan Kang, Shanghai based analyst at LMC Automotive. “Geely needs to do that to better compete with global brands.”

Lotus cars are currently built in Norfolk, England.

Geely and Lotus said in a joint statement that while Norfolk was Lotus’s manufacturing home, a key part of the firm’s strategy to revive the brand was expanding the brand’s manufacturing footprint globally.

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“Details on additional locations and models will be confirmed in due course,” the company said in an e-mail to Reuters.

The planning authority of Hubei province, whose capital is Wuhan, last month approved Geely’s plans for the plant. The factory will be able to manufacture 150,000 cars annually, according to a document posted on the authority’s website.

The Wuhan Development Zone, where the factory will be based, said in a statement posted on its website last month that production at the plant would include “Geely’s Lotus project”.

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The Wuhan Development Zone did not respond to Reuters’ request for comment.

The documents did not say when the plant would start operations. The facility is approved to build all-electric battery cars, electric hybrids as well as combustion engine cars like Lotuses.

Job advertisements on Geely’s website show the automaker is looking to fill at least 20 Wuhan-based roles for the Lotus project.

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The Wuhan Development Zone, where the factory will be based, said in a statement posted on its website last month that production at the plant would include “Geely’s Lotus project”.

The Wuhan Development Zone did not respond to Reuters’ request for comment.

The documents did not say when the plant would start operations. The facility is approved to build all-electric battery cars, electric hybrids as well as combustion engine cars like Lotuses.

ADVERTISEMENT

Job advertisements on Geely’s website show the automaker is looking to fill at least 20 Wuhan-based roles for the Lotus project.

The share of luxury SUVs in China’s overall passenger car market grew from 4.07 percent in 2014 to 5.01 percent in 2018, according to data from consultancy J.D. Power.

Geely has forecast flat sales this year after the Chinese auto market contracted for the first time in more than two decades in 2018.

The company has made waves in the auto world with its $9 billion purchase of a stake in Germany’s Daimler AG DAIG.DE and its $1.8 billion acquisition of Sweden’s Volvo. It bought 51 percent of Lotus from Malaysian automaker Proton in 2017.

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Reporting by Yilei Sun in Beijing and Brenda Goh in Shanghai; Editing by Stephen Coates


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
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Trump encourages China to take advantage of Jay Powell and Fed: They ‘don’t have a clue’

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President Donald Trump launched a new attack against his own Federal Reserve chairman in a pair of Monday morning tweets.

The president has been publicly pressuring Fed chairman Jerome Powell to lower interest rates in hopes of staving off a recession, but the Trump appointee has so far resisted his calls.

"Producer prices in China shrank most in 3 years due to China’s big devaluation of their currency, coupled with monetary stimulus," Trump tweeted. "Federal Reserve not watching? Will Fed ever get into the game? Dollar strongest EVER! Really bad for exports. No Inflation...Highest Interest Rates..."

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Internet pummels Trump for frantic demand to investigate Obama instead: ‘This is not the tweet of an innocent man’

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President Donald Trump jealously raged against Barack Obama's post-presidency business deals, which includes a production agreement with Netflix -- and other social media users ridiculed his apparent envy.

Trump questioned that deal and others in a pair of tweets complaining about an impeachment inquiry launched against him last week by the House Judiciary Committee, and he suggested Congress look at Obama's business since he left the White House.

....work that way. I have a better idea. Look at the Obama Book Deal, or the ridiculous Netflix deal. Then look at all the deals made by the Dems in Congress, the “Congressional Slush Fund,” and lastly the IG Reports. Take a look at them. Those investigations would be over FAST!

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Is the Trump administration squelching a whistleblower — and a major scandal?

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America's system of government has always worked on the honor system. With so few Senate-confirmed Cabinet and federal agency heads, and so many “acting” officials working in the Trump administration, people who are constantly forced to audition for permanent positions are now under tremendous pressure to protect a president hellbent on breaking every norm of good governance. Now a new possible political scandal could be brewing in the Trump administration that tests the loyalty of these “acting” officials — pitting their allegiance to the nation against their desire to impress their boss.

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