Lotus Appoints Jaguar Land Rover Veteran As New CEO Of Sports Cars

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A new parent company and a new Hethel-based CEO of sports cars. Things are looking good at Lotus these days.

A few months ago, now former Lotus CEO Jean-Marc Gales suddenly resigned from the position to take the same job at JD Classics, a classic car retailer and restoration company. Feng Qingfeng was quickly appointed as Gales' successor, but he was going to need some help with the right executive team.

According to Lotus, it has just hired former Jaguar Land Rover executive Phil Popham to serve as Senior Vice President of Commercial Operations for Group Lotus and CEO of Lotus Sports Cars. He will report directly to Popham, who is based in China. Popham, however, will be stationed at Lotus headquarters in Hethel, England and will oversee all day-to-day operations.

Remember, China's Geely is now the parent company of Lotus, which was previously owned by Malaysia's Proton. Before assuming the job at Lotus, Popham served as CEO of yacht company Sunseeker International. "I have spent my career working with, and have a passion for famous British luxury, high-tech and pioneering brands, and Lotus, with its amazing history, definitely fits into that category. I am looking forward to being part of the team that will drive the substantial future growth of the Lotus business," Popham said in an official statement. The choice of Popham came after an extensive search because Geely has big plans for Lotus.

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It previously announced it will invest as much as $2 billion into the British sports car company, which will help pay for two all-new sports cars for 2020 and at least one SUV. Remember, Lotus wants to go after Porsche in terms of prestige as well as overall driving experience.

If all goes well, there's even a possibility the iconic Esprit will be reborn, a project Gale said he'd love to do, although this was before his departure. But with a guy like Popham now at the helm in Hethel and given his past experience at JLR, it sounds like Lotus only has good days ahead.

Matt Tierney

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