Luxembourgian to save Lotus

5 May, 2014 | by Lance Branquinho

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For a rather long time the Lotus automotive company has been a financial disaster.

Despite employing some of the very best engineers and producing driver’s cars without rival, Lotus loses money. A lot of money. Each year. Former Ferrari America executive, Dany Bahar, was supposed to return it to profitability, but he was fired under suspicion of misappropriating company funds in 2012.

Since then Lotus production has reduced to a trickle of cars and all those very clever technical people at its Hethel headquarters are stupendously bored. The company’s Malaysian owners don’t quite know what to do with the boutique car brand either. For enthusiasts and brand fan-people it is a very distressing state of affairs.

A solution could be in the making, though, from a very unlikely source: Luxembourg. That’s right, from Europe’s oft-forgotten economic superpower comes Jean-Marc Gales, an automotive executive who has served time at Daimler, GM, VW and as CEO of Peugeot Citroën.

A rather clever chap, too, is Gales, he has MSc degrees in management and mechanical engineering from London’s Imperial College and the  University of Karlsruhe in Germany. Math, it would appear, is not a problem for Jean-Marc. Colin Chapman, would surely have approved of his technical acumen.

Gales undoubtedly has an excellent grasp of the industry and is particularly well qualified but Lotus is a rather special case with significant challenges. Bahar tabled staggeringly ambitious plans for the brand, of which nothing has come, and some of the current cars, such as Elise, are nearly two decades old.

Much like Aston Martin has done in its collaboration with AMG, Lotus possibly needs to find a technical partner with sufficient scaling to allow it a margin for new platform development. Its composite tubs were revolutionary a decade and a half ago, but the current product offering requires much finessing. Hopefully, Gales, is the man to provide that.

     

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