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Lotus has a new boss, again
Jean-Marc Gales, CEO since 2014, has left Hethel for a classic car restoring business
Breaking news from Lotus that doesn’t involve another new Elise with a lightweight sunvisor and a fresh shade of paint: there’s a new man at the top. Jean-Marc Gales, the boss since 2014 – who steered Lotus out of the post Dany Bahar era of concept cars and posh watches – has left to become CEO of classic car restoration and racing company JD Classics.
Gales has previously overseen marketing at VW and Fiat, but hauling Lotus towards profit was perhaps his greatest challenge. He succeeded in 2017, following a 49.9 share buyout by Geely Holding, the parent company of Volvo, which has flourished under Chinese ownership.
J-MG had also been spearheading Lotus’s efforts to reinvent the Elise for 2020, and release a new SUV model to fight the Porsche Macan and Jaguar F-Pace in the profitable premium crossover sector.
Lotus’s chairman Daniel Donghui Li said: “Jean-Marc has stabilised and turned Lotus to profitability for the first time in the iconic brand’s history with new industry leading products and unique business models since joining the company in 2014. Lotus is poised for the next phase of growth under Feng Qingfeng’s leadership, where its expertise in lightweight materials and sport cars-engineering will form part of the wider expansion of Geely ‘s automotive portfolio.”
Meanwhile, the new man at the top of Lotus is Mr. Feng Qingfeng, vice president and chief technical officer of Geely Auto Group.
Mr Feng, pictured to the left above, alongside the outgoing J-MG is apparently delighted with his new role, saying: “I am honoured to have been appointed to lead this iconic British sports car group. With Geely’s global synergies and total support I am confident that Lotus has an exciting opportunity to achieve its full potential as a luxury sports brand, based around its engineering legacy and its future product pipeline.”
We were big fans of Lotus’s turnaround under Gales, and though the endless special editions of Elise, Exige and Evora seemed out of hand, Gales was always quick to point out the cars took the fight to Porsche’s track cars for less money, and sold out quickly. He’ll be a hard act to follow. Best of luck, Mr Feng. We’re counting on you.