It’s no secret that Lotus has been experiencing some difficulties. The trouble began earlier this year when investment firm DRB Hicom purchased a stake in Proton from the Malaysian government. Proton was owned by the Malaysian government for years, and DRB Hicom’s purchase put a hold on Lotus development and production. Following this, Chief Executive Officer Dany Bahar was ousted, kicked out the door with an ongoing lawsuit.
Bahar (and advisors like Bob Lutz) had hatched an ambitious, five-model plan that kicked off at the Paris Motor Show in 2010. Lotus stole that years auto show, and the company set about to make the lineup it introduced a reality. With Bahar gone and HRB Hicom in charge, we’ve had little direction about the future of the company.
HRB Hicom has been vague and noncommittal in the midst of all of this. One of the centerpieces of Bahar’s plan was a return of the Esprit mid-engined supercar. With the rest of the plan nixed, The Financial Times reported today that the car was being cancelled. The Esprit is a car that many enthusiasts have been waiting for, and it would be a serious sign that Lotus’ future under HRB Hicom’s ownership was in doubt. Following the report, Lotus quickly denied that the Esprit was being axed.
The fact that the story got a lot of traction is an indication that many are uncertain about the brand’s future. What happens next is anyone’s guess. It’s good to hear HRB Dicom is funding the Esprit’s development though, at least for now. We wouldn’t be surprised to hear about a potential sale in the future though. With Lotus losing money and Bahar’s expensive plan key to changing that in the future, we doubt they’ll want to keep throwing good money after bad. Hopefully someone will end up with the company that has a long-term interest.