According to a report by Automotive World, CKD assembly of the Europestar Lotus RCR at Youngman’s plant in Jinan, China is set to begin in August 2008 this year. The Europestar RCR is a badge engineered left hand drive pre-facelift version of the Proton GEN2 we have here on our local shores. A total of 150,000 CKD kits have been ordered for the next 6 years – which is about 25,000 units a year.
The Europestar RCR was initially launched by Youngman in early January this year, and sales began with a batch of 30,000 CBU imported units of the left-hand drive car from Proton’s plant in Malaysia. Before launch date, the car had already received 1,500 bookings. The RCR is being pushed in China by an initial appointment of 40 dealers which will provide a sales, service and spare parts network.
Here’s something interesting: the rebadging deal includes royalty payments for legal usage of the Proton GEN2 design. So legally, Youngman – the company behind the Europestar brand – holds the rights for the Proton GEN2 designs in China.
If another Chinese company decides to rip the GEN2 off, it won’t be Proton against a Chinese company in the Chinese courts. It will be a Chinese company against another Chinese company, which could lead to more favorable results than the precedents we have seen previously where a Chinese company who has ripped off a Japanese or western design can get away with it easily.
There will be more cars from Europestar in the Chinese market in the future. While there will likely continue to be some form of platform and parts sharing with Proton, future Europestars will be engineered by Lotus engineering consultants and will be be much further differentiated from the Protons it may share parts with – something like how a Seat Ibiza is a Volkswagen Polo but does not look like one.
Picture above snapped in China courtesy of Astley Ho, find more photos after the jump.