Lotus Engineering has at one time or another worked with many of the major auto manufacturers in the world to develop their vehicles. The company is generally highly secretive about the work they do because their clients prefer that customers think they did all the work. However, if you are going to start a car business from scratch, it can help establish some credibility if you have a company like Lotus helping you out. Tesla Motors reached out to Lotus to help them engineer and build the chassis of their Roadster.
Lotus Engineering's new venture also involves a startup located in a non-traditional (at least from a car building perspective) location. The Saudi government has apparently started looking toward the days when petroleum won't be able to supply a steady stream of cash to fund the royal family's quiet and laid-back lifestyle. Aside from pumping fossil fuels out of the ground and processing them, Saudi Arabia has little existing heavy industry. The development center at the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology will focus on developing more environmentally friendly technology, with the goal of maximizing the use of the available oil in the least damaging way possible. Although the Saudis clearly have the financial resources to fund this kind of work, given what they spent some of those resources on in the past, it would seem unwise to rely heavily on them for our future.
Lotus Engineering & KACST Cooperate to Establish Technology Base for the Automotive Industry in Saudi Arabia
Lotus, via its engineering division, has entered into a joint cooperation programme with KACST, the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology with the intention to promote the establishment of an ecologically driven automotive technology capability in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Lotus, with support from its parent company PROTON, has been commissioned to assist with the long term strategy of KACST to create an automotive research, development and test centre to support the manufacturing infrastructure within the Kingdom to help build its industrial capabilities and potentially utilise its vast natural resources. Lotus has already been involved in the first stage of this objective with the installation of a new engine and test cell facility in the Kingdom. This programme, which started in 2006, was commissioned with Lotus Engineering and uses the highly sophisticated Lotus Optical Research Engine.
His Excellency President Dr Mohammed Al Suwaiyel said, "The comprehensive strategy of KACST is to achieve automotive design, development and testing capability for Saudi Arabia within a ten-year period, commencing in 2008. 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 Officer of Group Lotus Plc 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, Dato' Syed Zainal Abidin Syed Mohamed Tahir said the combined wealth of experience that Lotus and PROTON have will be beneficial for Saudi Arabia to develop its automotive development and manufacturing capability.
"PROTON has had the distinction of technology transfer from established automotive manufacturers as well as its own developed home-grown capabilities. Together with LotusÕ engineering expertise, Saudi Arabia will have access to a greater depth of knowledge for the launch of its automotive industry," he
Prince Turki bin Saud bin Mohammad Al Saud, The Vice President for Research Institutes at King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology 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 be providing training in all aspects of automotive engineering to KACST employees utilising facilities at the Lotus headquarters in Hethel, Norfolk, as well as PROTONÕs facilities in Malaysia.
Mike 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. Lotus Engineering continues to provide high technology engineering consultancy for the world's automotive industry and our world class research and development is unprecedented. We are pleased to be working closely with KACST and PROTON on this exciting challenge to initiate a technology base for the automotive industry in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and to develop an infrastructure to increase the ecological capabilities of the industry."
Prince Turki bin Saud bin Mohammad Al Saud said, "The cooperation is consistent with the national industrial strategy and the mission of the industrial cluster programmes that emphasise the creation of an automotive industry in the Kingdom." He added; "We need to develop environment friendly technologies in order to sustain the utilisation of oil with less harmful effects to the environment."