Lotus drives deeper into the red


Lotus suffered a 40 per cent slide in the number of sports cars sold as losses at the Malaysian-owned engineer worsened dramatically last year.

Manufacturing delays for new models and what the company called a "difficult market situation" were blamed for its selling only 785 cars through the year to 31 March. Difficulties were compounded as Its engineering arm was hit by a loss in orders from a big Chinese client.

Overall losses for the year ballooned to £167.8 million from £118.4 million a year earlier. Turnover plunged from £118.8 million to £89.9 million.

Nevertheless, the Norfolk-based company was presented with £10 million of taxpayers' money through the Regional Growth Fund in November after its owners DRB Hicom said they would inject £100 million into the business.

According to the accounts, the refinancing plan is aimed at completion in March this year. The business has been struggling with losses for years, as well as facing an unfair dismissal claim from its sacked former boss Dany Bahar who - the company claimed - charged Lotus for his luxurious living including a chauffeur, helicopter travel and 10 wristwatches.

Bahar denies the claim and is seeking £6.7?million in a hearing set for the High Court in June.