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Geely preparing to start Lotus production in China?

by Ronan Glon

Geely's new plant will have an annual capacity of 150,000 cars.

Geely is preparing to start Lotus production in China, according to a new report. Government documents and job listings suggest the firm will build a brand-new factory in a town named Wuhan in a bid to give Lotus' annual production a considerable boost.

Reuters uncovered evidence of the roughly $1.3 billion facility online. Government regulators approved Geely's request to build a plant in Wuhan in late 2018, and documents posted online point to an initial annual capacity of 150,000 cars. If achieved, that number would represent a significant increase for the British brand once thought dead. It sold merely 1,630 cars in 2018.

It's unclear whether all 150,000 cars will wear the Lotus badge, or if Geely will also use the factory to build other cars. The Chinese government gave Geely permission to build electric cars, gasoline-electric hybrid models, and non-electrified vehicles in the plant. The documents claim the plant's output will contribute to "Geely's Lotus project," according to Reuters.

Reaching that kind of volume will require expanding the Lotus line-up beyond small, two-seater sports cars developed with purists in mind. Anonymous sources told Reuters that Lotus' long-planned SUV will be made in the Wuhan facility. If accurate, this signals that officials see China as a big market for the model.

Lotus currently builds cars by hand in a historic facility located in Hethel, England. This is speculation, but the firm could build high-volume models like its yet-unnamed SUV in China, and keep producing low-volume sports cars in Hethel.

Geely hasn't commented on the report. "Details on additional locations and models will be confirmed in due course," a spokesperson told Reuters via email. We could learn more about the project during the 2019 Geneva auto show.

Note: Lotus Evora 410 pictured. Photo by Ronan Glon.

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