Sports Car Maker Lotus Pondering U.S. Plant

The British sports car manufacturer, under control of Chinese automaker Geely, eyes an increase in production capacity with a possible third production site.

Greg Kable

August 14, 2023

2 Min Read
Lotus Emira
ICE-powered Emira one of three Lotus models currently in production.

Lotus is studying plans for the establishment of a U.S. production site as part of global expansion strategy that aims to see it sell up to 150,000 vehicles annually by 2028.

Confirmed by Lotus CEO Qinqfeng Feng in an interview at the 2023 Goodwood Festival of Speed in England, the plan is aimed at providing the Geely-owned company with its third production plant and a significant boost in production capacity.

“We want to expand our capacity somewhere else,” Feng (pictured, below left) is quoted by the Financial Times.

Lotus CEO Qingfeng Feng.jpg

Lotus CEO Qingfeng Feng

Lotus currently produces sports car models, including the internal-combustion-engine Emira and battery-electric Evija, at its factory in Norfolk, England. Additionally, it produces the electric-powered Eletre SUV in Wuhan, China.

Feng, a former vice president and chief technical officer at the Geely Auto Group, says Lotus will decide whether to proceed with the plan for U.S. production “before the end of the year.”

Geely, which purchased a controlling 51% stake in the Lotus Group in 2017, has invested almost $4 billion in the company. The remaining 49% is owned by Etika Automotive, a subsidiary of Etika Strategy, which is owned by Malaysian businessman Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary, whose DRB-Hicom also controls Malaysian automaker Proton.

One possible site for production of Lotus models in the U.S. is the Volvo factory in Charleston, SC. It currently produces the internal-combustion-engine S60, with plans to add the new electric-powered EX90 later this year. Volvo was purchased by Geely in 2010.

Polestar, the EV company operated jointly by Geely and Volvo, has also announced plans to establish a production line for its Polestar 3 at the Charleston site. Both the Volvo EX90 and Polestar 3 are based on Volvo’s SPA platform.

Lotus models are priced too high to benefit from U.S. government incentives offered under the Inflation Reduction Act. However, the establishment of U.S. production would place Lotus models close to what is expected to be one of the company’s largest markets by the end of the decade.

Geely is becoming a player on the world stage in premium/luxury car making. Besides Volvo, Polestar and Lotus, the Chinese automaker upped its investment in British brand Aston Martin last May, and it is showing success in its home market with the up-market Zeekr EV brand, which has expanded into Europe.

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