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Lotus's new owner considers China-built sports cars

by Ben Hsu

Geely has finalized the deal to acquire stakes in Proton and Lotus.

Future Lotus cars could be built in China, says the company's new majority stakeholder.

Li Shufu, the chairman of Geely, told this week that he would consider producing the iconic British sports cars in his home country. Geely, the Chinese automotive giant, finalized the deal this week to acquire both Lotus and its parent company, Malaysian automaker Proton.

In the deal, Geely will buy 49.9 percent of Proton and 51 percent of Lotus. Geely ostensibly made the deal to gain a foothold into southeast Asia, where Protons are popular, but having a well-known high-end brand like Lotus is also a nice feather in their cap.

While traditionalists may fear that the colonies have overtaken the empire, there is cause for hope. Geely also owns Volvo, and has given them the freedom to design what are arguably some of the best products in the Swedish company's history. Proton, on the other hand, bought Lotus in 1996, but never realized the full potential of the brand.

"The deep regional knowledge we gain from Proton and Lotus through this transformative partnership... opens the door for Zhejiang Geely to become a major player in the Asean market," Li said. "We will work together to make the most of our respective strengths." Geely hopes to sell 3 million cars by 2020, according to Bloomberg.

Photo by Ben Hsu.

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