A decade or two ago, we’d have been worried and depressed about news that Lotus, our precious little struggling Norfolk sports car company, was being refounded by Chinese owners to make SUVs, saloons and crossovers.
But much has happened in the meantime that makes it clear this is the only way to go, that it’s likely to be successful and that it should be welcomed
First is the Porsche example. The Stuttgart company can only afford to build its top-end sports cars, to race at the highest levels and to burnish its performance car reputation because it makes a big majority of saloons, crossovers and SUVs. These are desirable cars in their own right and have become the ‘sports cars’ of their sectors.
Second is the performance of Geely. This extraordinary company, led by the even more extraordinary Chinese visionary, Li Shufu, has shown with its sensitive management of Volvo, Polestar, LEVC and the rest, that it is brilliant at preserving heritage and reputation while vastly expanding and improving businesses.
Third is the market itself. Car consumers like having an uncompromising brand, so long as the cars themselves contain a good deal of comfort and compromise.
And because we at Autocar know him so well, we’d add a fourth success element: the continuing presence of master designer Peter Horbury as Geely’s chief arbiter of Lotusness. With all these positive elements at work – plus other background stuff such as shared parts, distribution and marketing know-how – it’s hard to see how this latest Lotus expansion can fail.