Search

New Anglia chairman Andy Wood makes case for Lotus to DRB-Hicom

06:30 05 May 2012

New Anglia LEP chairman Andy Wood

New Anglia LEP chairman Andy Wood

Archant

The Malaysian owners of Lotus Cars are facing fresh lobbying to persuade them to keep production of the iconic brand in Norfolk.

This week saw Dato’ Sri Haji Mohd Khamil Bin Jamil, managing director of DRB-Hicom fly into Britain to hold talks with business secretary Vince Cable over the future of the company.

The government has stated it is ready to release more than £10m from its regional growth fund to support a multi-million pound plan to step up production at the Hethel-based facility and create more than 1,000 new jobs.

The funding award, which was agreed last year, had been put on hold following the sale of Proton amid growing uncertainty about the future of Lotus and DRB’s plans for the car maker as rumours circulated that the company could be sold to a Chinese buyer with production shipped overseas.

With prime minister David Cameron also raising the issue with his Malaysian counterpart, pressure was on DRB to show its hand and this week, the DRB boss, who has moved to bolster the management team at Lotus, also visited Hethel to hold talks with chief executive Dany Bahar.

Now, Andy Wood, chairman of the New Anglia, local enterprise partnership, has written to him to make the case for the firm’s continued investment in Lotus.

Following the speculation, New Anglia established a working group to support the firm and in his letter, Dr Wood welcomed DRB’s purchase of Lotus.

“Group Lotus has a distinguished history and an internationally recognised brand,” he said. “We are keen to see the business continue to grow under your ownership in Norfolk. We believe there are compelling reasons for continued investment in Group Lotus and its Hethel facilities.”

Dr Wood said: “Group Lotus is a key employer in our area and it is important that we engage in a positive way with its new owners and make the case for continued investment in the company and its highly skilled workforce.”

It has also emerged that Lotus has secured enough investment from DRB-Hicom to restore full car production at its Hethel assembly plant and continue building-up to the launch of the first of its new-wave models, the Esprit supercar in 2013.

Motor industry press reports suggest Lotus should be making Elises, Exiges and Evoras at a combined rate of 44 cars a week, and will be continuing to spend on the development of the Esprit.

But despite the funds and a welcome announcement from the firm that it has not decided to sell Lotus, policymakers are maintaining the charm offensive to secure DRB’s ongoing commitment to the firm as it considers its longer term future.

1 comment

  • If there is £10million of our money going to in,then the public deserve information as the what is being bought into.More importantly so do those whose livelihoods depend on it.

    Report this comment

    Peter Watson

    Monday, May 7, 2012

Other news

11:32
Abellio Greater Anglia train.

Rail services are slowly returning to normal, after a nightmare morning for travellers with numerous Greater Anglia mainline services suspended.

06:39
Tony Rizzo, founder of the Alternative Hair Show and its charity Fighting Leukaemia, with Fleur Guyton.

A 20-year-old woman who lost her hair after undergoing treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, has shaved it off again for charity.

Yesterday, 16:50
Mulleys bus crash on Fornham Road, Bury St Edmunds.

A bus was struck by a flailing chain from a passing skip lorry, destroying the windows down one side, in Bury St Edmunds today.

Yesterday, 09:19
Police Officers. Picture: Ian Burt

Detectives are appealing for witnesses after a burglary in Ditchingham, near Bungay.

Most Read

11:32
Abellio Greater Anglia train.

Rail services are slowly returning to normal, after a nightmare morning for travellers with numerous Greater Anglia mainline services suspended.

Read more
06:39
Tony Rizzo, founder of the Alternative Hair Show and its charity Fighting Leukaemia, with Fleur Guyton.

A 20-year-old woman who lost her hair after undergoing treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, has shaved it off again for charity.

Read more
Tue, 18:20
Norfolk Constabulary police vehicle. Picture: James Bass.

Five people were fortunate to avoid serious injury after a two vehicle crash at rush hour.

Read more
Yesterday, 16:50
Mulleys bus crash on Fornham Road, Bury St Edmunds.

A bus was struck by a flailing chain from a passing skip lorry, destroying the windows down one side, in Bury St Edmunds today.

Read more
Mon, 14:41
Police are appealing for information after burglars stole an elderly man's savings in Bradwell

Witnesses are being sought after four cars were broken into in Hethersett.

Read more

Local Weather

Overcast

Overcast

max temp: 13°C

min temp: 6°C

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Diss Mercury e-edition today E-edition