Mike Stevens | Mar 14, 2012

Lotus has put the stoppers on its development program, thanks to a 90-day lockdown imposed by the Malaysian government while the British brand and its parent Proton are transferred to new owner DRB-Hicom.

Speaking with UK magazine Evo, Lotus boss Dany Bahar confirmed that while the brand's regular sales, production and motorsport operations are unaffected, its research and development centre has been given a three-month forced vacation.

Although a relatively short period, the stop-work command is likely to add further delays to the replacement of Lotus' ageing line-up, with a host of new models scheduled to roll out from 2013.

Bahar said that now, the first of those new models, the Esprit, is not expected to arrive until early 2014 - and then only if DRB-Hicom approves the brand's existing budget and scheduling.

"This difficult period for Lotus finishes at the end of March [the buyout occurred in January], and that’s 
when we will know then whether DRB-Hicom will want to continue with our 
business plan," Bahar told the magazine.

The former Ferrari executive, who is fresh into a new four-year contract with Lotus, said that while he hopes the company will sign off on his plan, "it's still 50:50 at the moment".

To get the plan over the line, Bahar has been jetting to Kuala Lumpur every week to talk DRB-Hicom brass through the schedule and budget confirmed by Proton two years ago, before a decision to offload the brands had surfaced.

If the plans are not approved, Bahar might once again look to find partners for a Lotus buyout.

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