British motoring legend Lotus plots a stock market float to finance its electric car plans


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Jul 11, 2021
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Lotus Cars is considering going public within the next couple of years to help fund its expansion and investment in electric vehicles.

Its chief financial officer Mark Farries told This is Money that 'all major financial markets are a possibility' for an initial public offering, though he added that any further information on a possible flotation is unlikely until at least mid-2023.

Farries said this was because the group was busy currently developing its Emira sportscar for production, launching its first-ever SUV and completing its first deliveries of the Evija Hypercar.

He added that Lotus had held an investor event in London to present its electric models, business strategy and technology roadmap, following similar presentations in the Chinese cities of Guangzhou, Beijing and Shanghai in recent weeks.

The British motoring brand declared plans last year to plough more than £2billion into developing new technology, boosting production of its sports car models, and transitioning to make only electric vehicles by 2028.

This will be two years before the UK Government intends to introduce a complete ban on new sales of petrol and diesel cars and vans, as part of efforts to encourage the take-up of more eco-friendly alternatives.

Lotus has already begun manufacturing the Emira, its final model to possess an internal combustion engine. Sales of the first-edition marque are set to begin this spring at a price tag of around £76,000.

Funding to help drive the electric vehicle transformation is being provided by its owners, Chinese multinational Geely, which also holds a majority stake in Volvo, and Malaysian business Etika Automotive.

The firm, whose 75th anniversary founding takes place next year, hopes the investment will enable it to sell around 100,000 vehicles per year by 2028, compared to just over 1,700 in 2021.

Around 10 per cent of these vehicles will be built at the Lotus headquarters in the village of Hethel, Norfolk, where the group plans to hire 250 more employees to the 1,500-strong workforce already working there.

But the overwhelming majority will be manufactured at a £900million factory currently being built in Wuhan, China, to help cater to the fast-expanding Chinese electric vehicle market.

Lotus has set a target to produce around 150,000 cars per year from this one million square foot facility, which will make its first-ever sports utility vehicle. The city is also set to house the Lotus Technology Centre, due for completion in 2024.

In the longer term, the company plans to launch a sports saloon vehicle and a smaller SUV, before commencing production on an all-electric sports motor, presently called the Type 135, in 2026.

Battery manufacturer Britishvolt signed an agreement at the end of last month with Lotus to design lithium-ion battery cells for the latter model soon after being awarded £100million in public funding to help it build the UK's first 'gigafactory.'

Meanwhile, Volkswagen saw its shares surge on Tuesday after it revealed that it was in 'advanced discussions' with its largest shareholder over a potential listing of its highly-profitable Porsche brand.

Many investors are hoping such an IPO will help the German automotive giant to accelerate its transition to becoming fully electric. It has already vowed to boost spending on developing battery-powered electric vehicles to €52billion by 2026.

Volkswagen is weighing issuing an equal number of ordinary and preference shares in a potential Porsche AG listing and may pay a special dividend to its owners to drum up support, two people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Ordinary shares confer voting rights and Porsche SE, the holding company of the Porsche and Piech families that hold 53.3 per cent of voting rights at Volkswagen, said it could buy ordinary shares in any listing of Porsche AG.


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