Lotus Cars has appointed Sydney-based Ateco Automotive official importer and distributor for its cars in Australia and New Zealand.

Ateco, owned by New Zealander Neville Crichton, was established about 25 years ago and is the largest independent vehicle importer and distributor in both countries. It handles a variety of brands from Europe (including Citroen, Fiat, Ferrari and Maserati), China (including Great Wall) and the US, sold through about 160 dealers. It has previously also represented Kia and has retail dealership interests.

The new importer, once based in the former Ford building in Homebush, Sydney, and now located in the suburb of Waterloo, said the experienced existing Lotus dealer network in Australia will remain, with outlets in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide.

“In addition, Ateco Automotive intends to expand its presence in the region with a new dealership in Auckland, New Zealand’s largest car market, in the near future,” it said.

“Ateco Automotive will introduce a number of new initiatives for Lotus in the coming weeks focused on increasing the presence and perception of Lotus in Australia and New Zealand for both the current range of cars (the iconic Elise, the Exige and the award winning new Evora) and the future range of cars.”

This includes the Esprit supercar, planned for sale in 2013 and the Elite which will go on sale in 2014.

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Guillaume Chabin, director of global sales and marketing for Lotus, said: “I would like to welcome Ateco Automotive to the Lotus brand. The company is a highly regarded and experienced importer in Australia and New Zealand, has a very strong infrastructure and the ability to join us in taking our brand forward in this important market as our product line-up evolves.

“We have been present in Australia for many years and are recognised by many for both our high tech, high performing Lotus cars and our fantastic motorsport heritage.

“Ateco Automotive joins us at an exciting time with the new era of Lotus, heralding in a new range of sports cars in the future to complement the current range and an all encompassing motorsports programme which will return the brand to the elevated level that it has enjoyed in the past.”

Glen Sealey, general manager for Lotus in Australia and New Zealand at Ateco, said: “We are delighted to have the opportunity to import Lotus cars into Australia and New Zealand. Given our success and experience gained over the years in the retailing and marketing of premium and luxury niche sports car brands, we are well placed to give Lotus the best opportunity to succeed in such discerning markets. The timing could not be better as we will be able to prepare the market place and the dealer group for the arrival of the new range as well as developing the sales and customer support for the existing range.

“The new Lotus models, topped by the phenomenal high performance supercharged Evora S, are stunning cars and perfectly suited to the Australian and New Zealand markets, where performance, efficiency and stunning looks are so important.”

Ateco said it would take control of Lotus importing immediately “with a seamless transition from the outgoing importer”.