Units of Lotus and electric-vehicle upstart Nio signed an investment pact as the Chinese owner of the iconic maker of British sports and racing cars seeks to transform it into an all-electric brand.
Lotus Technology and Nio will explore collaboration in areas including high-end intelligent EVs, according to a statement. The unit, which develops electric cars for the Lotus brand globally, broke ground on its global headquarters in Wuhan last week and plans to roll out a range of new models over the next five years.
The first, a sport utility vehicle code named Type 132, will debut next year. This will be followed in 2023 by a four-door coupe and another SUV in 2025. An all-new electric sports car, the Type 135, will hit the market in 2026.
The models are in addition to the Evija all-electric hypercar and the Emira, the last gas-powered sports car from Lotus, both of which will be built in Hethel, England.
A separate factory already under construction in Wuhan with capacity to make 150,000 cars a year will be completed soon, with production set to start later this year.
The deal with Nio Capital, the investment arm of Nio, was part of a funding round that valued Lotus Technology at $2.3 billion, Bloomberg News reported earlier, citing a person familiar with the matter who asked to not to be identified because the matter is private.
Lotus is part of the empire of Chinese billionaire Li Shufu, who founded Zhejiang Geely Holding Group and also controls Sweden’s Volvo Cars. The group has made a number of strategic moves as the global auto industry goes electric. The Hangzhou-based carmaker has forged tie-ups with companies including Daimler and Renault.
Geely purchased a stake in Group Lotus in 2017. It owns 51% of the company, which includes Lotus Cars and Lotus Engineering, while Malaysia’s Etika Automotive owns the rest.
Geely is weighing an initial public offering of Lotus Cars or just the EV unit as soon as next year, Bloomberg News reported in April. A listing could value the entire business, including its combustion-driven sports and racing cars, at more than $15 billion, people familiar with the matter said then.