Lotus CEO Dany Bahar and Toyota president Akio Toyoda

There's no question that Lotus needs to sell more cars if it is to survive in an industry rapidly centralizing into major groups. But when CEO Dany Bahar talks about looking for new buyers, he's not talking about selling cars. He's talking about selling the company itself.

Of course, Lotus is not Bahar's to sell, strictly speaking. The company belongs to Proton. But the Malaysian state automaker may not have the necessary resources to provide Lotus with the synergies and shared development which Bahar identifies as crucial to Lotus' future success.

A new report from Inside Line quotes Bahar as saying that Lotus may need to partner with a larger automaker in order to develop into a serious player in the sportscar business. All eyes are on Toyota, the Japanese automaker whose engines and other components Lotus currently uses.

The partnership could emerge as something akin to what Aston Martin is fostering with Daimler – that is to say, some sort of an alliance that does not involve selling the company – or could result in the brand being sold, lock stock and barrel, to the auto giant. One way or another, Lotus probably can't go it alone.