Lotus rebirth augurs well for Midlands automotive industry

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The Midlands automotive industry has been bolstered with news that the Chinese owner of Lotus Cars is considering a massive investment into the UK, with the potential for a new manufacturing facility in the West Midlands.

It has been widely reported that Geely could be planning an investment of at least £1.5bn in an effort to revive the sports car brand.

Geely, which already owns Volvo and the London Electric Vehicle Company, has hinted the first phase of the strategy would involve an expansion of Lotus’s Hethel plant, with an additional 200 engineers being hired to cater for the ramp up in production.

In addition, it has reportedly committed to plans for a new design studio in Coventry and is thought to be eyeing up the area for the new factory.

Such a move would make sense for the company as it has recently invested £300m into the LEVC plant at Ansty Park for the production of electric black cabs and may be able to tap into its resources for the new plant.

Made in the Midlands member IM Kelly Automotive is a supplier to Lotus.

David Rose, Group Quality Manager at the firm said: “This has been hinted at for some time and if it is to go ahead then it would be great news for the automotive sector in the West Midlands.

“We would certainly be hopeful of securing work with the company and I think other suppliers will be hoping likewise.”

The investment plans are part of a strategy by Geely’s owners to build the brand into a leading player in the global automotive industry, rivalling the likes of Toyota and Volkswagen.

In a further boost to the region’s automotive industry, Castle Donington-based motorcycle manufacturer Norton has revealed it is embarking on a major expansion.

The company will be expanding its existing factory and is set to take on an additional 100 workers, including designers, CAD engineers, purchasing staff and production operators to serve the expected growth. Additionally, the company will be expanding its apprenticeship scheme.

The company has been enjoying strong demand around the world for its bikes, especially its new V4 model.