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by Jay Traugott
Desperate times call for desperate measures and Lotus's new owners seem to be looking at every possibility for long-term survival.
Times are tough right now at Lotus with major financial problems creating an uncertain future. Debts to suppliers of some $400 million, coupled with razor-thin profit margins on its three-model lineup and a dispirited staff have taken their toll on the British sportscar manufacturer and engineering firm. Just two years ago at the Paris Motor Show, Lotus stunned the industry by revealing five new concepts with the stated goal of a complete turnaround and a return to profitability within five years.
While a new Esprit may still happen within our lifetimes, Automobile magazine is floating rumors that claim a possible merger may take place between Lotus and fellow UK automaker Aston Martin. The idea behind such a deal could benefit both companies in several ways. First off, Lotus will have a financially stable and established partner and Aston Martin would acquire the former's engineering expertise. There's little if any overlap between the two companies' products, with a fully-loaded Evora barely touching a base V8 Vantage, effectively eliminating any chance of internal competition.
Such a merger, however would require raising between $1.1 and $1.6 billion to pay off debts and acquire a controlling interest as well as other regular business functions. In the end Aston Martin may not have the resources on hand to make that happen, outlining a scenario that could work in theory, but practically may be more than either party could be prepared to undertake.