Jean-Marc Gales has abruptly left his position as CEO of Group Lotus plc, the Norfolk-based sports car maker and technology consultancy acquired last year by China's Geely group, which also owns Volvo, Lynk&Co, Proton and LEVC.
Gales told Autocar that he was leaving for "personal reasons" and that it was "time to move on". He departs his job today and described it as "a very emotional day", adding: "Lotus has been in my heart for 50 years."
Joining Lotus in 2014 with the task of leading it out of a long, loss-making era, Gales was previously a member of the managing board of PSA Group. His replacement at Lotus is Qingfeng Feng, who joined the company's board at the time of the Geely acquisition.
On Feng, Gales said: “He is a good guy and a good choice. He can unlock the synergies which exist between Volvo, Lynk&Co, Polestar and Lotus.”
Gales will head up the Essex-based classic car dealer and restorer JD Classics, which was recently in the news for its dispute with a customer over alleged 'fixed' classic car prices.
He described JD Classics as the biggest company in its field in Europe, if not the world, with "huge potential for global expansion".
He also stays on at Lotus as chief strategic advisor to its chairman, Daniel Donghui Li.
During his four years leading Lotus, Gales has had considerable success, increasing sales by a third of the three-tier sports car range to around 1600 units a year by continual improvements and upgrades, as well as posting modest operating profits after many years of losses. Gales added that 2017 was the first year ever that Lotus made a profit.