Proton bought control of Lotus in 1996 but has yet to make a profit from the Norfolk-based British sports car subsidiary, a situation likely to continue to at least 2014.
Now that Proton itself could be divested by its state-run parent, LGI is said to be on the grid for an early sale in 2012.Lotus has struggled to compete against Germany’s Porsche and Italy’s Ferrari in Europe, and has kept its top reputation in the automotive industry partly because of its long expertise in designing lightweight frames.
Its Lotus Elise model (picture), weighing 2,010lbs, is one of the lightest performance cars on the market. Lotus’s DNA shows few similarities with that of its Malaysian owner and for that reason alone analysts feel Proton should unload it.
Lotus makes sports cars which sell for as much as $163,000 in Malaysia, while Proton sells cheap hatchbacks at $15,000.
Now, what about Proton? The news that a local tycoon is already winning the bid for a major stake in the company, is already leading to serious contemplation and speculation.
Some say if the majority stakeholder is someone of 'never in the car business', the future of Proton looks uncertain...