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(Left to right) New shop officially opened in London. From left to right. Dato' Abdul Rahman Md Ali - Board Member of DRB-HICOM Berhad En Aslam Farikullah - Chief Operating Officer of Group Lotus Dato' Syed Mohamed Syed Murtaza - Chairman of DRB-HICOM Berhad Dr Vince Cable Dato' Sri Mohd Khamil Jamil - Group Managing Director, DRB-HICOM Berhad HE Dato' Sri Zakaria Sulong - Malaysian High Commissioner to the UK Tan Sri Marzuki Mohd Noor - Board Member of DRB-HICOM Berhad
By annabelle dickson
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Executives from Group Lotus’ Malaysian owner DRB-Hicom met business secretary Vince Cable at the car maker’s new flagship London shop today in what was the culmination of a three-day visit to the UK.
Khamil Jamil, DRB-Hicom’s group managing director, said following the visit that Group Lotus was working on a number of new developments after investing new funds into the business.
The executives posed with the minister in front of a new Exige S car which it is believed to be about to go into production at the Hethel factory.
Mr Jamil said: “Group Lotus has some of the most technically gifted and talented members of the automotive industry and we are determined that they will be given the opportunity to flourish under the new management. DRB-HICOM has invested new funds and it is our job to make sure that investment is used in a way that can drive the company forward.
“We are working on a number of new developments and are confident of the company’s bright future as we continue to leverage on our engineering excellence and innovation culture. Meeting with Dr Cable and hearing about his continued support for this great British brand was very heartening.”
The visit comes after a turbulent few month for the car maker and the dismissal of chief executive Dany Bahar last month. Questions still remain about the future strategy of the company and the previous five years plan to create five new models which was given the backing of the British government with the promise of a £10m Regional Growth Fund loan.
But since the departure of Mr Bahar, DRB-Hicom has bought in Aslam Farikullah to run the Hethel operation. So far he has remained tight lipped about his plans for the car maker beyond a statement this week in which he said the marking and promotion activities were under review.
But it is believed he could soon share his new vision for the company soon, including with staff at the Hethel factory.
During the visit the Malaysian delegation was given a thorough tour of the facilities including the production line, design studio and engineering facilities. They also put current Lotus products through their paces out on the test track with a ride and drive experience.
The company also said that senior staff at Hethel were reassured about DRB-HICOM’s support for Group Lotus going forward during the visit.
Dr Cable said after the meeting at the Regent Street shop: “I’m pleased to have been invited to meet with DRB-HICOM on what is a milestone day for Lotus. Lotus is an important part of the UK’s automotive sector, and I particularly welcome DRB-HICOM’S continued commitment to the future of Lotus in Norfolk.”
South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon, who was also at the meeting and has been in close talks with DRB-Hicom about their plans, said: “We all know that Lotus has had a lot of troubles recently, but this I hope is the beginning of a new chapter. It is quite clear the company is re-examining its business strategy to come up with a sound, well based business plan that is deliverable and will ensure the future of the company.
“I have met Aslam a number of times and he is an impressive, grounded individual with a clear idea of what needs to happen.”
Bosses at automotive group Caterham are locked in crunch talks to determine the fate of its business in Norfolk, the EDP understands.