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Lotus to build electric sports cars in UK as part of £2.5bn plan

·3-min read
Photo: Lotus Cars
The company sold 1,378 cars last year but expects to the figure to rise to “tens of thousands” of vehicles by 2025. Photo: Lotus Cars

Lotus Cars' plans to build electric sports cars in the UK, and will see its main plant in Norfolk triple production as part of a ten-year turnaround plan.

This will include a £2.5bn ($3.4bn) investment from majority-owner Geely Auto Group.

The car maker is already creating several hundred jobs in the country as it begins production of the Lotus Emira, the design for which it teased this week. 

The Emira is the last combustion-engined sports car the company will make, replacing its full lineup of sports cars, before it goes down the electric route.

The company sold 1,378 cars last year but expects to the figure to rise to “tens of thousands” of vehicles by 2025, a report in the Financial Times said.

Watch: Can Biden convince US drivers to go electric?

Matt Windle, its managing director, told the publication the company is looking to overhaul its entire line-up and manufacture SUVs and electric sports cars.

The company is also opening a factory in China, which will be its first plant outside the UK, to make electric SUVs.

Overall, it expects to see a ten-fold rise in production.

“This plan will take us into new segments, and new parts of the market,” said Windle.

“When the lifestyle products and the new sports cars come along, we will be talking about tens of thousands of cars a year, rather than thousands.”

READ MORE: Jet2 bemoans 'lack of clarity' on travel plans as losses hit

A dedicated electric sports car architecture is being developed in partnership with Renault’s Alpine sports car brand, FT said.

Windle expects the majority of Lotus sales to be SUVs, which would mean the bulk of its production would be at the Chinese plant.

“While motoring purists have decried the rise of SUVs carrying sports car badges, Windle said the vehicles would still feel like Lotus vehicles,” the FT reported.

Once the Emira starts deliveries next year, and the new electric cars are released, production at the Hethel plant in Norfolk will rise to more than 5,000, Windle said.

There are currently 150 positions being advertised at the plant for later this year, as well as 125 jobs in Norwich and 100 roles at its battery research centre near Warwick.

Windle added that the group has not yet reached a deal on batteries for its electric sports cars, but they would need to be from the UK or Europe. This would enable it to qualify for tariff-free access to the EU.

In 2019, Lotus posted a loss of £14.1m on revenues of £96.3m, while car sales plunged because of what the FT called “its ageing line-up.”

Bloomberg had earlier reported that Geely was considering raising $1bn to expand its Lotus Cars into the electric vehicles market in China, citing people familiar with the matter.

Watch: BMW Expects 50% of Global Sales to Be All Electric in 2030

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