Lotus chief executive’s delight at �10.4m RGF funding

The boss of Lotus Cars said the company was looking forward to staying in the fast lane of the UK car industry after securing �10.4m from the government's regional growth fund.

On Monday deputy prime minister Nick Clegg announced 119 successful bids for the second round of regional growth fund (RGF) money, with Lotus securing a slice of the �950m available alongside projects such a research and development project by Crewe-based Bentley cars to investigate the introduction of a new engine, with a focus on the Chinese market; a project to stimulate economic growth in Bradford city centre, and the development of new kilns and firing methods at Staffordshire-based Ceram Research Ltd for industrial use in the ceramics industry.

Group Lotus previously failed to secure �30m from the government's regional growth fund which it wanted to help safeguard 390 jobs and create more than 1,000 new manufacturing posts.

But it was second time lucky for the firm's Malaysian owners, who were encouraged to submit a second reduced �10m bid, as they look to sink around �200m into a 10-year business plan to transform the company from a specialist niche car company into a profitable sports car brand, which would include rolling out an automated production line system.

The Hethel Engineering Centre would also be at the heart of the vision, becoming the firm's centre of applied research.

The company said the grant would be put to good use supporting the 'industrial research element' of future production of the new fleet of cars.

The firm stated yesterday that it will help ensure manufacturing remains in the UK for the foreseeable future and create a considerable number of new jobs over the next 'five to six years' and all eyes now will be on how long the funding will help bind the company to its Norfolk base.

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Group Lotus chief executive, Dany Bahar said: 'This is great news for all those concerned about Group Lotus moving production overseas, to say that we're pleased with the result would be an understatement. We are an authentic British automotive manufacturer with an incredible heritage and an exciting future ahead, this funding will play a role in assisting with the realisation of our business plan to produce a new range of sports cars with best in class performance and emissions.

'We would like to thank everyone for their support during the bid process. The local authorities, MPs and the local enterprise partnership have all played a role in helping us secure this funding – we're very grateful, it's nice to know people feel strongly enough to act on our behalf.'

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