Arabian delights for Lotus

The engineering division of Norfolk sports car company Group Lotus has clinched a deal to help develop an automotive research and test centre in Saudi Arabia.

The engineering division of Norfolk sports car company Group Lotus has clinched a deal to help develop an automotive research and test centre in Saudi Arabia.

Lotus, with parent company Proton, has signed a cooperation programme with the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology

(KACST) to promote ecologically driven automotive technology in the Arab state.

It's the latest major contract win for the engineering division of Group Lotus, which is also growing its operations in China, Japan and India.

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Lotus first began working with KACST with the installation of a new engine and test cell facility in Saudi Arabia in 2006..

Dr Mohammed Al Suwaiyel, president of KACST said: “The comprehensive strategy of KACST is to achieve automotive design, development and testing capability for Saudi Arabia within a 10-year period, commencing in 2008.

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“A newly established team of highly skilled automotive engineers from KACST, Lotus and Proton will also enable the partners to develop a technology base for the automotive industry in Saudi Arabia.”

Mike Kimberley, chief executive of Group Lotus said: “Lotus and Proton are committed to assisting KACST in achieving its objectives. The engine and test cell programme was the start of a successful relationship and the conclusion of this joint cooperative study will drive the total automotive industry strategy for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

Proton managing director Syed Zainal Abidin Syed Mohamed Tahir said: “Proton has had the distinction of technology transfer from established automotive manufacturers as well as its own developed home-grown capabilities. Together with Lotus' engineering expertise, Saudi Arabia will have access to a greater depth of knowledge for the launch of its automotive industry.”

Prince Turki bin Saud bin Mohammad Al Saud, vice-president for Research Institutes at KACST, said: “Lotus Engineering will take a lead role in the partnership supported by Proton with continued expertise throughout the project.

“Lotus is a world leader in automotive technology and has extensive experience in engineering, manufacturing and testing facilities globally including many of the proving grounds in Europe and around the world.

“An Automotive Research Development Centre will be established in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with full testing facilities that can be used by other vehicle manufacturers.”

To enhance the engineering and manufacturing skill base in Saudi Arabia, Lotus and Proton will also be provide training in automotive engineering to KACST employees at the Lotus headquarters in Hethel as well as Proton's facilities in Malaysia.

Mr Kimberley said: “Lotus is ideally placed to support KACST as we have extensive experience in both niche and high volume vehicle and engine development and manufacture.”

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