Updated: 01/11/2012 12:47 | By motoringresearch.com

Proton goes into partnership with Honda

Proton deal with Japanese giant to signal renewed hope for Lotus?


Proton goes into partnership with Honda

Proton is to go into partnership with Honda, the firm’s owner has announced – which could lead to interesting developments for Proton-owned British sports car maker, Lotus.

DRB-HICOM, which owns Proton and Lotus, announced the collaborative agreement with Honda, the world’s seventh largest car maker, to the Malaysian stock exchange on Monday.

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Details of the agreement have not been revealed, but a statement said the two would explore “technology enhancement, new product line up, platform and facilities sharing”.

The deal is seen as a major coup for DRB-HICOM, which has at last attracted big-brand support for its struggling Malaysian car maker. Proton was formed in 1983 by the Malaysian government but has suffered in recent years from falling sales and outdated models.

The crisis at its British arm, Lotus, has not helped matters. Earlier this year, controversial CEO Dany Bahar was sacked and the sports car maker’s ambitious five-year development plan was canned.

More recently, new boss Aslam Farikullah has committed to the new Lotus Esprit, but other model news remains scant (although he has said in recent interviews that Lotus’ future ‘is safe’).

The tie-up with Honda is thus seen as encouraging. Honda is an engineering-led ‘car brand’ and gaining access to Lotus in some form will undoubtedly have played a part in the new deal.

Proton and Honda will now spend the next few months detailing the exact scope of their agreement but early indications are that it is positive news for Lotus, which has a huge engineering resource at its base in Norfolk.

Honda is no stranger to the sports car and supercar sectors Lotus competes in. Its Ayrton Senna-developed NSX was an icon of the 1990s and it is now developing a high-tech replacement for the NSX, using hybrid drive and electric motors.

Honda was famously an engine supplier to the Lotus Formula 1 team in the 1980s too, with Ayrton Senna scoring two wins in the iconic yellow-liveried 1987 model.

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