Youngman Lotus, a joint venture between Lotus Engineering and Youngman Auto, has announced plans to expand in China. By the end of 2009, Youngman Lotus plans to operate 100 Chinese retail outlets.
Youngman Lotus manages the “Europestar” car marque, which was launched in January 2008 as a new nameplate to sell Lotus-designed Proton vehicles in China. Youngman Lotus was formally a commercial vehicle OEM, and is taking its first steps into the passenger car market very cautiously with the help of Lotus Engineering.
The first model launched by Europestar was a re-badged Proton GEN-2 hatchback sold as the Europestar Lotus RCR (“Jingsu” in Chinese). This was followed in January 2009 with the launch of a sedan variant named the Europestar Lotus Persona (“Jingyue” in Chinese). Europestar has hyped its Lotus ties much to its advantage, and has also greatly increased the visibility of the Lotus brand in China.
In December 2008, Youngman Lotus Europestar celebrated its first Chinese-built RCR. Before December, all Europestar models had been imported from Proton of Malaysia at increased cost. Plans for the future of the Youngman Lotus Europestar brand include eight new models jointly designed with Lotus Engineering within the next four years. These include plans for a Youngman Lotus variant of the new Proton Exora minivan.
The expanded retail outlets will continue to sell Lotus Europestar models alongside Man trucks and Neoplan buses.
Construction of new manufacturing facilities in Ji’nan and Hangzhou are almost complete, and will bring annual capacity up to 450,000 units.