Chief executive officer of Lotus Jean-Marc Gales just stepped down “for personal reasons,” and will join a company that restores and sells old classic cars. Replacing Gales at Lotus is Feng Qingfeng, vice president and chief technical officer of Geely, the Chinese company that, as of 2017, has owned a controlling stake of Lotus.
Gales came to Lotus in 2014 to replace the highly controversial Dany Bahar—a man who clearly didn’t understand Lotus. Bahar drew the ire of enthusiasts over stupid public stunts and then got in trouble for allegedly spending company money on personal things and not on building sweet new cars.
So the bar was low for Gales, and it seems that he kept the boat afloat, although his Lotus always seemed too cash strapped to do anything truly new and revolutionary. After all, it’s basically been churning out special editions of the Exige, Elise and Evora for what seems like a millennium.
Lotus says the former CEO “stabilised and turned Lotus to profitability for the first time,” which definitely sounds like a good thing. When Geely took over in 2017, we hoped that this might change, and that there might be a new Lotus in the future. There still might! But just not under Jean-Marc Gales. Our take on this is that Geely probably just wanted its own man in charge of the company’s new direction, which is understandable.
Before arriving at the British sports car company, Gales spent time at VW, Fiat, GM and Daimler, as well as at PSA Peugeot Citroën, where he apparently played a role in restructuring the sales chain and launching the DS brand. After that, and just prior to arriving at Lotus, he was the CEO of the European Association of Automotive Suppliers.
Now the Luxembourger—who isn’t leaving the company entirely, instead becoming Chief Strategic Advisor to Lotus Chairman, Daniel Donghui Li—is headed to British classic car restoration company JD Classics, a Maldon, Essex-based company that “restore[s], race[s] and sell[s]” classic cars. Gales will serve as CEO there.
Gales’s replacement has been at Geely since 1999, according to a Bloomberg profile. He’s apparently got experience in research and development, as well as “manufacturing, sales and marketing and management.” Sounds like a well-rounded guy; hopefully he can bring this world the new Lotus sports cars it deserves.