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Front-engine Lotus sedan possible: report

Nothing ruled out: Group Lotus chief executive officer Jean-Marc Gales said it is likely that his sportscars may have to share Proton technology, including a front-engined format opening up the possibility of sedans and crossovers.

A front-engined Lotus sedan or crossover using Proton parts is possible, boss says

17 Oct 2014

LOTUS may have to start building front-engined vehicles using parts from Malaysian parent Proton to stay afloat, the boss of the British sportscar company has admitted.

Speaking to United States publication Car and Driver Group Lotus chief executive officer Jean-Marc Gales said the company was likely to make use of Proton technology in the mid-term future.

“If we’re looking at four to six years in the future then our partner is Proton,” he said.

“Proton is a volume manufacturer and has parts modules that we could use for future models.”

Mr Gales said sharing technology with Proton, which focuses on small, front-wheel drive cars, could lead to very different offerings from Lotus such as sedans and crossovers.

“That’s a distinct possibility,” he said.

“I wouldn’t exclude anything at the moment. I would only exclude anything that doesn’t fit the Lotus brand. There are many ideas that would enable us to go into completely different categories of product.

“I can tell you that if we were to do a front-engined sportscar, it would be a real Lotus. Which means for ride and handling it could be a benchmark. It will have Lotus DNA and be true to it.”

Whether this also means the cars will be front-wheel drive, he wouldn’t say.

 center image Left: Group Lotus chief executive officer Jean-Marc Gales.For now Mr Gales’s focus is on the immediate future of the struggling British brand. Last month he announced a proposed worldwide restructure which would see Lotus cut a quarter of its workforce. Mr Gales said he regretted the impact this would have on employees’ families, but believed it was essential for the survival of the business.

Mr Gales started in his role at Lotus Group in May this year, taking over the reins from Aslam Farikullah who was put in place following the departure of Dany Baha as chief executive officer.

Four years ago Mr Baha unveiled dramatic plans for Lotus with five all-new models to be launched by 2016. A controversial dispute led to his sacking and the vehicle plans were shelved.

In 2013 the Malaysian government sold its 42.7 per cent share in Proton which was then acquired by DRB-Hicom.

When Proton bought Lotus in 1996, it did so with an intention of resurrecting the iconic British sportscar brand while using the technology gained by the acquisition to better its own vehicles.

In Australia Lotus has a three-model line-up which starts with the entry Elise at $69,990 plus on road costs and tops out with the Evora S IPS at $161,990.

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