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New Geely Plant in China Will Be the Home of Future Lotus Vehicles

It appears production of the brand's sports cars will remain in the UK, but others will move to China.

You might think of Lotus as a quintessentially British marque, but the U.K. brand that is now owned by Geely is looking to China for production space according to Reuters. Geely’s new factory in Wuhan City, China cost $1.3 billion to build and has the capacity to crank out 150,000 cars annually. It will allegedly make Lotus a higher-volume brand, likely bringing the introduction of a long-rumored Lotus SUV.

This is the first major shake-up for Lotus since Geely acquired a majority stake in the brand in 2017. Geely is traditionally a low-cost-high-volume manufacturer, but it’s looking to expand into higher-end car markets, and its control of Lotus is part of that plan.

“For Geely, going high-end can help it take more market share,” Alan Kang, Shanghai-based analyst at LMC Automotive told Reuters. “Geely needs to do that to better compete with global brands.”

On top of Chinese Lotus manufacturing, Geely is also investing in the existing Lotus headquarters in Hethel, Norfolk, England. The plant there will remain the home of Lotus sports cars, at least for now, and it’s already expanding the English HQ having recruited 289 new employees there in 2018.

Since Lotus only sold 1,630 cars globally in 2018, Lotus will probably only make up a small portion of the production that happens at the new Chinese plant, but the brand’s volume will certainly go up. Hopefully, this means we can expect some real confirmation of future Lotus products soon rather than just unconfirmed rumors.