While the High Court decision over the Lotus naming rights dispute is seemingly days away from being made public, one could argue that Team Lotus boss Tony Fernandes may have already moved on from the matter, irrespective of whether they win or lose.
Fernandes has instead made the big announcement – one reported on our site as a rumour last week – that he (or rather, his company, Team Lotus Enterprises) has purchased the British sports car maker Caterham.
The announcement essentially means that Fernandes will finally realise his dream of entering the car-making market. Having already introduced an assortment of products – credit cards, hotels, mobile phones, low-cost airlines – to the burgeoning middle class of his Malaysian homeland, a low-cost sports car seems like a sensible addition.
In a spectacular launch ceremony today, Fernandes made it quite clear in his comments to the press that he had every intention of doing so with the Lotus brand, “but that went horribly wrong”.
While Group Lotus split with Fernandes and is instead pursuing its own ambitions of competing with Ferrari in terms of luxury and brand recognition, Fernandes’ ambitions seemingly lay much closer with the original ideas set out by Lotus’ founder, the late Colin Chapman: that is, to make good sports cars at competitive prices.
“Caterham Cars has remained wholly faithful to Colin Chapman’s philosophy of ‘less is more’,” Fernandes added.
“It is already a successful business with sales across Europe, Japan, Australia and the Middle East, and under the guidance of the existing management team, we now have all the ingredients and the launch pad to further evolve that spirit and take Caterham to new exciting horizons with innovative products and greater global brand exposure.”
The buy-out of Caterham is potentially a masterstroke, allowing them to rebuild the Caterham brand’s profile and bide their time in the hope of being able to pick up Group Lotus for a few ringgits if their project goes belly-up.
There was no mention of a rumoured name change away from ‘Team Lotus’ (or incorporating the Caterham moniker) in the team’s announcement.
No doubt there will be more to follow on this…
[Image via Team Lotus]