On the same day Lotus confirmed it will be launching four new electric models by 2026, Autocar has learned the sports car maker has recruited a new design boss to oversee the ambitious development plan.
It is a homecoming for the 72-year old Brit, who has enjoyed one of the most distinguished careers in automotive design and won Autocar's Lifetime Achievement award in 2020. While many had expected him to retire when he left Geely, the temptation to lead a smaller company through a transformative product renaissance was obviously too great.
Before taking the top job at Geely in 2011, Horbury worked as head of design for Ford of America and did two stints as Volvo’s design director.
Horbury’s new role will include oversight of Lotus cars, but also the growing Lotus Engineering consultancy which works for third party clients.
Lotus design director Russell Carr, who led the team behind the enthusiastically received Emira, will continue in his current role. Horbury’s empire will also include the growing Lotus studio in Coventry, under the control of Ben Payne, which will do much of the work on the wave of new models.
While Lotus’s forthcoming pair of SUVs and coupe-saloon will be produced in China, the company says that all design will be led from the UK.
“I first visited Hethel just after Lotus was acquired in 2017 and I’ve been watching closely as the new plans have developed,” Horbury told Autocar, “I’m delighted to be becoming a bigger part of that future.”
German media reports say that Stefan Sielaff, who resigned from his role as Bentley’s design director in January, will be taking Horbury’s old role as head of Geely Design, but we await official confirmation on that.