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Their recent ambitious plans have met with scepticism in some quarters, but Lotus received a huge boost today with confirmation of a £10.4 million government grant, CEO Dany Bahar has confirmed.
The Hethel-based firm was given the money from the second round of the Regional Growth Fund – a £1.4bn fund to help private sector investment – and will use the cash to build a second factory and assembly line to help develop the new range of front-engined sportscars unveiled at last year’s Paris motor show.
Lotus says the money will secure the manufacture of Lotus products for the next five to six years in the UK, creating “a considerable number of new jobs”.
Lotus chief Bahar said: “This is great news for all those concerned about Group Lotus moving production overseas. We are an authentic British automotive manufacturer with an incredible heritage and an exciting future ahead.
“This funding will play a role in assisting with the realisation of our business plan to produce a new range of sportscars with best-in-class performance and emissions”, he added.
Business secretary Vince Cable said: “This is a very significant boost to local communities, and the Regional Growth Fund will help businesses like Lotus to drive local growth.”
Lotus steamrollered into the 2010 Paris motor show with a celebrity-packed presentation unveiling no less than five new models: the Esprit, Eterne, new Elise, Elan, and SLS and DB9-rivalling Lotus Elite.
Bahar has also enlisted some of the motor industry’s biggest names: former Ferrari man Donato Coco, former AMG production boss Stephan Pathenschneider, former Ferrari F1 team manager Claudio Berro and GM legend Bob Lutz, to help the Norfolk carmaker’s long-term vision.
And regulars will already be familiar with one of the early fruits of the new setup: the most powerful Lotus ever built – the V6-engined Evora GTE – which was confirmed earlier this year. We’ll have more on that for you all very soon.
And more incongruously, they have retained Grammy-winning rapper Swiss Beatz as Vice President of Creative Design.
It remains to be seen what’s next for Lotus. But the company certainly now seems to be gathering momentum…

Lotus wasn’t the only beneficiary of government money - Bentley also received a grant of £3 million from the Regional Growth Fund.

The company said the grant money would be used to develop new powertrains for future markets and to help Bentley anticipate changing demand, such as China, a market that ‘continues to break records’; by the end of September Bentley had sold over 1,000 units for the first time. And they’re quite fond of the new two-door Continental GT and GTC, naturally.

Bentley chief executive Wolfgang Dürheimer said: “Our customers expect the very best in terms of exclusivity, technology, quality and engineering excellence which requires significant ongoing investment in R&D. This is why we retain such a strong engineering capability exclusively for Bentley here in the UK.”

So, assembled electronic beavers, of the five Lotus models unleashed at the Paris motor show, which one would you like to see first? And what kind of powertrain would you like to see Bentley build? Glue your answers onto an Internet near you…

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