Lotus Cars to create 1,000 jobs from Regional Growth Fund

Lotus Chief Executive Dany Bahar says he is delighted at the £10.4m grant

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About 1,000 jobs will be created at sportscar manufacturer Lotus after it won a £10.4m bid from the government.

The firm based in Hethel, Norfolk, had its original bid of £27.5m turned down before it reapplied with a smaller sum from the Regional Growth Fund.

The company's chief executive said the jobs would be created as part of a five to six-year expansion plan.

The money will be used to build a second factory and car assembly line at the site for a new car range.

Dany Bahar, Group Lotus chief executive, said he was "very, very delighted" with the news.

He said: "It was always our intention from the beginning to create jobs in the region, especially in the automotive manufacturing industry in the UK, which was an issue.

"I believe it took a bit of time for the government to understand our plans going forward and the desire to keep the production for such a small car company together.

"It would not have made too much sense to have the mid-engined cars produced here at Hethel and different engined cars somewhere else."

'Complete remake'

Mr Bahar added that that despite the worldwide economic problems, he believed there was still a strong market for sportcars and that would continue.

Last year, Lotus unveiled five new cars at the Paris motor show, in what Mr Bahar hailed a "complete remake of the brand".

With the government funding confirmed, the company said it would expect to see its first new car roll off the production line by 2013.

Richard Bacon, MP for South Norfolk, said Monday's decision was "very good news" and believed it could start a "clustering effect" of hi-tech businesses along the A11 once it is fully turned into a dual carriageway.

After submitting an amended bid, Business Secretary Vince Cable was given a tour of Lotus' factory near Norwich in July, where he said the business had a "very good operation" and the country "needed companies like Lotus".

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