Copied from today’s Daily Telegraph:
[color:“blue”]Lotus and MV Agusta are making eyes at each other
By Frank Melling
Prepare for one of the most interesting marriages in the wheeled world. Proton Motors, Malaysia’s largest car producer and owner of the British Lotus marque, and the charismatic but permanently cash-strapped Italian bike manufacturer, MV Agusta Group, have signed a letter of intent to form a new company.
The initial announcement was not promising. Buried in the financial technobabble was the news that Proton was to take a 50 per cent share in MV Agusta SpA which is trading ï¿½ but only just ï¿½ under controlled administration. Everything MV Agusta does is tightly controlled by the Varese court and Banca Intesa, which has led to immense frustration for the Castiglioni family that owns MV.
Claudio Castiglioni is a huge bike fan and is blessed with prophetic vision. His son Giovanni, MV Agusta’s commercial director, wants to be a big player on the international scene. This is where the story really takes off.
The agreement with Proton is far more than a cash injection to a small, specialist motorcycle maker. The big idea behind the merger is that MV Agusta will develop a range of products for, and with, Proton using the illustrious MV brand plus Cagiva and Husqvarna, which are also part of the MV Agusta group.
One target will be small, affordable motorcycles for the Asian market; another will be military vehicles for Pacific Rim countries, for which Husqvarna has the expertise. These will be sold through Proton’s distribution network.
Next is the synergy between Lotus and the equally upmarket MV Agusta brand. Giovanni Castiglioni is very excited about the potential: “We see the opportunity to market both brands in unity. I expect to see exclusive boutique shops in every sophisticated city centre in the world, selling not only bikes and cars but also merchandise. Lotus and MV Agusta are a perfect match.”
Finally, MV Agusta aims to be the technical driving force behind the whole venture. Giovanni Castiglioni again: “Let’s face it, the 1ï¿½8 Lotus is hardly a Ferrari. With our technical excellence and design flair, Lotus could soon be making really interesting cars.”