Dany Bahar, the Group Lotus Chief
Executive Officer, takes time out to answer some
Following the result of the naming rights
court case, is there an update regarding Group
Lotus’ F1 involvement?
Dany Bahar: The judgement grants Group Lotus the
rights to use the name 'Lotus' and the Lotus
roundel on their own within F1, we are,
therefore, even more committed than ever before
to our long term plan within the sport.
The Judge also found that Team Lotus, run by
1Malaysia Racing Team, has the right to continue
to race in F1 under the name Team Lotus and
using the Team Lotus roundel. As a consequence,
it is inevitable that the similarity of the
names Lotus and Team Lotus will cause confusion
not only amongst F1 supporters and the wider
public, but also amongst F1 commentators who use
the word ‘Lotus’ interchangeably for both teams
as demonstrated throughout the season so far.
With the full support of our parent company,
Proton, we are seeking leave to appeal so that
this point can be clarified for the benefit of
all interested in F1.
With regards to our involvement with Lotus
Renault GP, as Lotus we stand united with Genii
Capital and have every confidence in the future
success of Lotus Renault GP.
This must have also been an interesting time
for your parent company Proton. Does this have
an impact on your relationship?
DB: They have followed the court case with great
interest and like us, they are looking forward
to the matter being brought to a close. More
importantly than the on-going F1 naming issues,
the past year has been an extremely important
one in Group Lotus’ history and Proton has
played, and continue to play, a crucial role in
One of the most critical elements of this
support has been assisting us in securing the
funding for our future plans. I am happy to
confirm that this is now all complete thanks to
Proton’s help and, together with Proton, we can
focus on completing the five year business plan
to return Group Lotus to profit.
We have an incredibly strong relationship with
Proton, they support us 100 per cent and frankly
this is really important for a company like ours.
Part of the business plan is the joint
development of a global small car platform
meaning that for the first time in the Proton
Lotus history, the relationship will be mutually
beneficial. This alone should demonstrate how
close we are.
With F1 and a complete new car line up, there
seems to be a lot going on at Group Lotus,
what’s the status regarding Lotus Cars and your
activity in motorsport generally?
DB: With road cars we’re in a good position,
we’ve completed year one of a five year plan and
we are making good progress on the development
of the new Esprit which will be the first of the
new models to go on sale.
Based on the feedback we have received since the
unveiling in Paris from customers, the media and
the industry, we have made some adjustments to
our plans. For example, feedback regarding the
Elan showed us that it was too close in style
and positioning to the Esprit, and so as a
consequence we have delayed the delivery of the
Elan - delayed not cancelled. This allows us to
focus more of our attention on the Evora which I
believe has fantastic potential. We are now
concentrating our efforts on making sure that
the quality of the Evora matches its undeniable
performance. Another major development that has
come about as a consequence of the feedback we
received is that we are now developing our own
engine to use in our future cars, creating even
more the “pure Lotus experience”.
With regard to motorsport, everyone always asks
about F1 but for us, it’s not just about F1,
given that motorsport in general is a key
ingredient to our marketing strategy. We have
always been and will always be an automotive
brand that is associated with racing.
Congratulations to Nick Heidfeld on his result
in Monaco, when he came in eighth to earn
valuable points that pushed him up a place in
the Driver’s Championship to sixth; whilst Tony
Kanaan did a great job coming fourth at the Indy
500. We want to win though, not just participate.
But we don’t expect everything overnight, we
start slowly and gradually build up our presence
in a way that makes sense for our business. Look
at our involvement within IndyCar, we started
last year with one car, now we have three and
from next year onwards we’ll be offering
engines. People always question the cost but,
believe me, if we couldn’t afford it we wouldn’t