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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 September 2006, 18:30 GMT 19:30 UK
Lotus plans to cut up to 200 jobs
Lotus Exige
Lotus has been based in Hethel, Norfolk, since 1966
Up to 200 jobs are being axed at the car makers Lotus.

But the company, based at Hethel near Norwich and which has been in the county since 1966, insists it still has a bright future.

The company said it was making cuts because of poor sales in the US market which has been hit by rises in oil prices and interest rates.

But the firm is to launch three new models over the next three years, including its flagship sports car.

Staff on the Europa, Elise and Exige production lines will all be affected as well as some administrative staff.

'Tighten belts'

The firm said a significant proportion of the job losses would be made through voluntary redundancy.

Mike Kimberley, chief executive officer of Group Lotus, said: "While we regret any job losses it is essential we respond fast to market conditions while we drive forward this exciting plan.

"We have some great opportunities ahead of us and some already under way but we have to tighten our belts in the short term as we drive to stimulate sales in the depressed USA market."

Tim Byles, chief executive of Norfolk County Council, said: "We should not let disappointment at the short-term job losses obscure what is a remarkable commitment to the future of Lotus."

Lotus currently employs 1,200 workers in Norfolk.

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