Lotus revs up for expansion into China’s sports car market

The lineup of international sports-carmakers available on the Chinese market just got a little longer with the announcement that the people behind the luxury Lotus range are soon to enter the fray.

The British sports-carmaker has designed a new China-exclusive logo - to avoid confusion with the local Youngman brand which already uses the "lotus" name ( Lianhua in Chinese) - and it has entered into a partnership with a company called Symphony Lotus Ltd to import and distribute its cars. It will start first with an outlet in Beijing - expected to open in October - before moving into the cities of Shanghai, Chongqing and Guangzhou by the end of the year.

The state-run Chinese media has reported that Lotus plans to market its Evora, Elise and Exige models across the country before introducing the next generation of Lotus cars, starting with the Espirit in 2013.

No indication was given as to what the cars would sell for in mainland China but the manufacturer's recommended price for a 2011 Lotus Elise Base Coupe is US$47,250 - and that's with no fancy frills. Lotus claimed it expected to sell around 200 cars in China this year and that it would be opening a further eight dealerships in the country by 2012.

"[The] Chinese younger generation and newly rich's enthusiasm for niche sports cars will further fuel our business," Lotus's CEO Dany Bahar told the China Daily newspaper.

China has become big business for the world's luxury-carmakers thanks to the nation's growing wealth. Ferrari is expecting to sell around 600 cars in China this year - following the 300 it sold in 2010, which itself accounted for a 50 percent year-on-year growth. Porsche is also expecting big things and has predicted sales of more than 20,000 cars in China this year, according to media reports. That would account for a 40 percent upswing. And Lamborghini expects to move more than 300 cars in China this year - which will make the country its biggest individual market, overtaking the United States.

A recent report by industry researcher JD Power & Associates claimed luxury car sales in China would rise 20 percent this year after reaching 459,000 in 2010.

Overall deliveries of vehicles reached 18.1 million in 2010, besting the United States - previously the world's largest car market - for the second year running.

MS

 

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