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Chinese owner of Lotus forced to hand over £150m after huge losses

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Production of the Lotus Emira
Production of the Lotus Emira

Lotus Cars was handed a £155m loan by its Chinese and Malaysian owners last year after the Covid crisis sent losses spiralling.

The British sports car maker secured the cash injection from Geely, run by the Chinese billionaire Li Shufu, and Kuala Lumpur-based Etika in a bid to put it on firmer footing.

Lotus posted a £56m loss for 2020 in accounts filed with Companies House, up from £14m a year earlier.

The marque was hit hard by Covid and forced to shut its factory down for 10 weeks in the early days of the pandemic. Cautious consumers and closed dealerships also took a toll, with sales down £14m to £82m.

Lotus said it could depend on the financial support of its owners, who have now pumped in £293m.

Geely purchased a controlling stake in the company with a £100m investment in 2017.

Lotus sold 1,189 cars in the year.

Like many small-scale British sports car makers, it is investing heavily in new technology in a bid to make its vehicles greener. In April, the business said that it will build electric models in the UK as part of a £2.5bn investment aimed at increasing sales tenfold.

Lotus launched its final combustion engine car, the Emira, earlier this year.

The firm has begun work on a new £900m base in China amid plans to widen its portfolio beyond sports cars.

The new facility in Wuhan will combine a factory, test track and electric and autonomous car research centre and will be home to a new offshoot, Lotus Technology.

Although famed for its small and lightweight sports cars, Lotus is keen to break into the fastest-growing part of the automotive market with its own SUV.

Lotus was founded in the UK in 1948 and was famed for its lightweight engineering, which produced cars known for their handling qualities.

Separately, Triumph Motorcycles Group swung back into profit during 2021, posting going £50m into the black compared to a £40m loss for the year earlier.

Owner Bloor Holdings credited pent-up demand from buyers, who bought 76,000 motorbikes from the company in the year to the end of June

The firm is controlled by John Bloor, who also owns Bloor Homes and who bought the Triumph name out of receivership in 1983. The bike maker now makes 89pc of its sales abroad.

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