Currently reading: Exclusive: Lotus boss Jean-Marc Gales departs car maker
Gales moves to lead classic car restorer JD Classics and is replaced by existing Lotus board member Qingfeng Feng
Steve Cropley Autocar
News
3 mins read
4 June 2018

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 VolvoLynk&CoProton 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.”

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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.

He said: "I was asked in 2013 to turn the company around — I believe that our team has achieved that. When I arrived, it was necessary to reduce the headcount by 350 to 800. Since then, we’ve hired 200 people, bring headcount back up to 1000, to prepare for the next waves of sports cars."

Gales has also laid plans for a more expensive model, a so-called 'new Elise', and pushed ahead with plans from the Proton era for an Asian-built sports SUV, evidently in anticipation of promised new investment by Geely.

When Geely announced that it had acquired a majority stake in Lotus in September last year, the group revealed that a large part of the deal’s appeal was the chance to unlock the potential of the cash-strapped sports car maker with well-financed new models and facilities.

Lotus chairman Donghui Li said: “Jean-Marc has stabilised and turned Lotus to profitability for the first time in the iconic brands history with new industry-leading products and unique business models since joining the company in 2014. 

“Lotus is poised for the next phase of growth under Feng Qingfeng’s leadership, where its expertise in lightweight materials and sport cars engineering will form part of the wider expansion of Geely's automotive portfolio.”

Qingfeng Feng added: “I am honoured to have been appointed to lead this iconic British sports car group. With Geely’s global synergies and total support I am confident that Lotus has an exciting opportunity to achieve its full potential as a luxury sports brand, based around its engineering legacy and its future product pipeline.” 

Meanwhile, Geely bosses have told Autocar: “Lotus used to be ranked alongside Ferrari and Porsche. We need to come back to that rank again.”

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Christopher Fielding of Charme Capital Partners, which owns JD Classics, said on Gales' appointment as CEO: "With Jean-Marc at the helm, he and his leadership team will be able to deliver our shared vision for this business as the full-service and truly global destination for classic car collectors and enthusiasts."

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seomaster 27 July 2019

There is so much in this

There is so much in this article that I would never have thought of on my own. Your content gives readers things to think about in an interesting way.ghost bed queen

wheelman 8 June 2018

Great News

This is good news for Lotus. Now that there is a company willing to invest, Lotus needs a new type of leader. There are leaders who can can cut costs and then there are leaders who create a vision and drive a team to make the impossible, possible. JMG was a bean counter. Even his ex-colleagues in Mercedes/AMG said as much on-the-record. And whilst it was unfortunate that Dany Bahar became hated, driven by cynical media coverage (Yes you Autocar), he brought significant progress to Lotus, a lot of which was on the cusp of being launched; a new Esprit with an all-new V8 that would have petrified Mclaren. It was only due to Proton's acqusition by Hicom that the money dried up. Car companies are fueled by a copius need for continuous investment and Dany's position became untenable. And whilst he'd have only delivered 70% of what he promised (Is Elon Musk any different?) we'd at least have had an Espirt, new Elise, updated Evora (Elan) and an F1 and Le Mans team to cheer on. Instead, it will take Geely years to rebuild Lotus after a brain drain to Aston and Mclaren. Fortunately, the soul of Lotus remains within the 800 still there and hopefully some of those that left may be tempted to return. WIth a level of financial backing that Mclaren or Aston can only dream of, I'm sure those ambitious engineers will return, knowing their potential to build the next great thing has greatest potential in Hethel.

Lotus_Fan 5 June 2018

JMG = KJU

As a fan of Lotus I can only say JMG leaving is a good thing.  Lie upon lie has come out of Lotus during his tenure both to the public and to the companies owners.  The company is not profitable, one look at the accounts will tell you that!  He's leadership was a mixture of Kim Jong Un crossed with Donald Trump, which has resulted in many good employees leaving the company.  A dictator who was only in the job for himself.  Here's hoping Geely have the foresight and patience to turn Lotus into the company that it should be.

si73 5 June 2018

Lotus_Fan wrote:

Lotus_Fan wrote:

As a fan of Lotus I can only say JMG leaving is a good thing.  Lie upon lie has come out of Lotus during his tenure both to the public and to the companies owners.  The company is not profitable, one look at the accounts will tell you that!  He's leadership was a mixture of Kim Jong Un crossed with Donald Trump, which has resulted in many good employees leaving the company.  A dictator who was only in the job for himself.  Here's hoping Geely have the foresight and patience to turn Lotus into the company that it should be.

Dunno about the gales bit but definitely agree with the last line, and looking at Volvo and london taxis I reckon lotus' future has never been brighter. Here's hoping!!

manicm 5 June 2018

si73 wrote:

si73 wrote:

Lotus_Fan wrote:

As a fan of Lotus I can only say JMG leaving is a good thing.  Lie upon lie has come out of Lotus during his tenure both to the public and to the companies owners.  The company is not profitable, one look at the accounts will tell you that!  He's leadership was a mixture of Kim Jong Un crossed with Donald Trump, which has resulted in many good employees leaving the company.  A dictator who was only in the job for himself.  Here's hoping Geely have the foresight and patience to turn Lotus into the company that it should be.

 

Dunno about the gales bit but definitely agree with the last line, and looking at Volvo and london taxis I reckon lotus' future has never been brighter. Here's hoping!!

Also note Geely now owns 10% of Mercedes, which can only be a good thing for synergies.

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