This story was updated at 2:31 PM with comment from a Lotus spokesperson.
If you follow Lotus news as obsessively as we do, you'll know Chinese automotive giant Geely purchased a 51-percent controlling stake in the small British sports car company back in May of 2017. Since then, we've heard rumors production of Lotus cars could be expanded out of the company's original plant in Norfolk, England into China. Well, it seems those rumors are becoming reality.
reports that Geely is planning to open a $1.3 billion manufacturing facility in Wuhan City, China for Lotus cars, according to company job advertisements and government documents. This makes sense as it falls in line with Geely's plan to "revive" the Lotus brand by boosting sales globally. The new factory could make it possible for the company to produce an SUV model in addition to the current Evora and upcoming Elise and Exige replacements. Lotus sold just 1630 cars in all of 2018, up two percent versus the year prior.
This isn't the first European car company Geely has purchased—notably, it bought Volvo in 2012, kickstarting an incredible renaissance after years languishing under Ford ownership. The Swedish brand started building cars in China in 2013, including the S90 sedan XC60 SUV.
While Volvo owners might not care where their cars are built, the Lotus crowd might. The company has a rich heritage at its current headquarters in Hethel, Norfolk. In addition to the factory where the cars are hand-assembled, there's also a racetrack on-site that was built out of World War II-era airfield. A Lotus spokesperson told us that Geely is fully committed to building its sports cars at Hethel, citing recent investments into the site such as its museum, heritage center, and new customer experience center, which will begin construction in the coming weeks.
It's unclear what Lotus cars will be built in China, though the long-rumored SUV its building to take on Porsche seems most likely. It's also unclear at this time when the new facility will open.