Dari Malaysia Insider: Proton says Group Lotus is ‘the real Lotus’
By Yow Hong Chieh
December 10, 2010
SHAH ALAM, Dec 10 — The dispute over the use of the Lotus name in Formula One shows no signs of abating, with the national car maker Proton today claiming that its subsidiary Group Lotus was “the real Lotus”.
“We are the real Lotus,” Proton chairman Datuk Seri Mohd Nadzmi Mohd Salleh told reporters here. “We have the right to go into Formula One and we know exactly what we are doing.
“I do not know about the other party. They know best. What they decide is up to them.”
Renault on Wednesday announced that they would be renamed Lotus Renault GP in 2011 with Proton-owned Group Lotus as title sponsor and eventual co-owners.
The move, following the French manufacturer’s sale of its remaining 25 per cent stake in the team, pits them against Renault-powered Team Lotus entered by budget airline tycoon Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes.
Nadzmi stressed that Group Lotus had every right to be a Formula One title sponsor as it not only owned the rights to the Lotus name but also manufactured sports cars.
Proton has insisted it will resist any attempt by Fernandes to use the name “Team Lotus” in the Formula One season next year, saying it has terminated his 1 Malaysia Racing Team’s rights to the Lotus Racing name for 2011.
The car maker alleged that the licence was terminated over the racing team’s flagrant and persistent breaches of licence, which were damaging to the Lotus brand.
Proton maintains that wholly owned subsidiary Group Lotus owns the rights to the iconic name for the team that was launched by Lotus founder Colin Chapman.
However, Lotus Racing chief executive Riad Asmat has disputed Proton’s claims, insisting that the Lotus Racing name belonged to Team Lotus Ventures, which is a part of Fernandes’s Tune Group.
Tune Group had bought over Team Lotus Ventures in early September.
Riad, a former Proton general manager, further claimed that his old company had tried to buy the rights of Team Lotus Ventures from its owner David Hunt but was unsuccessful.
Insiders have however pinned the dispute on Lotus chief executive Dany Bahar, claiming that he is responsible for influencing the recent decisions of Proton/Group Lotus.
Nadzmi, in response to a question, today denied that he had given the green light to Group Lotus to enter F1 to spite Fernandes. and said he had good ties with the Air Asia founder.
“We do not get any compensation when we allow them to use Lotus,” he said. “So that’s how good our relationship is.”
Proton managing director Datuk Syed Zainal Abidin Syed Mohamed Tahir said the decision was made purely for business reasons and was not personal.
“We have a lot of respect (for him) . . . but we’re making a decision that’s relating to Lotus here,” he said. “It’s nothing personal.
“It’s a company that we’ve owned for about 13 years. We’re duty-bound to shareholders to revive and turn around the company. There’s nothing personal to anyone.”
Group Lotus is a wholly owned subsidiary of Proton and runs Lotus Cars Limited, which has two operating divisions — Lotus Engineering and Lotus Cars. Lotus Engineering is an internationally recognised automotive engineering consultancy based in Norfolk, the United Kingdom.
Fernandes has so far refused to comment further on the latest developments between Proton and his Lotus Racing team.
He has also asked the British High Court to declare that Tune Group owns the rights to use the Team Lotus name.