It is confirmed that Lotus will build their own SUV and their main objective is to tap market segment and be strong competitor against Porsche Macan and Audi Q5 (And maybe Mercedes GLC) by 2019. Jean-Marc Gales who is the CEO for Lotus said it is now possible for them to expand and penetrate the market in China with the join venture that they have successfully secured few weeks before. The agreement have been signed between Lotus, Proton and Goldstar Heavy Industrial.
Under the new agreement, it enable Lotus and Proton to have access to all related resources in China. But it does not mean that they will move all the operation in Hethel to China; instead they will expand their business, hiring more people to work in China while still remain their design studio and main operation Hethel. Their main focus is to build Lotus SUV for China by 2019 before expand it to other market in Asia, Europe and United States.
Gales said that his team at Lotus have already started their work and he said it will be the first lightweight SUV in market. The SUV will have a wheelbase as same as Q5 but with much lower gravity point. He also informed that instead of building a new engine, they may use available engine from Toyota. But, they have asked permission from Toyota to tweak the engine and its ECU to make it more suitable to Lotus need.
It expected that the new model will also share the new platform with their parent company Proton. Lotus and Proton will work in a team to provide the full specs for the chassis to ensure the new chassis is usable for both Lotus and Proton to save overall cost. Gales added some Proton part may be reuse in their new SUV model and it is normal practice for car manufacturers to share components. You may find some Volkswagen part in the Lamborghini too. Proton have gain their reputation too with few new model have been introduce to the Asia market. Proton Preve, Suprima S and the new compact car, Iriz had received 5 Stars Asean NCAP ratings with their new generation VVT engine.
Gales said their aim right now is to reach for a 10,000 unit sales per year. With a strong market demand in China, it is expected they may reach far much greater results with the SUV from Lotus.