Popham will serve as senior vice-president of commercial operations for Group Lotus and CEO of Lotus Sports Cars. He will report to Group Lotus chief executive Feng Qingfeng, a long-time executive of Geely, which now owns the Norfolk sports car maker.
Qingfeng replaced Jean-Marc Gales, who abruptly left the firm in June, but is based at Geely's headquarters in China. Popham, who spent nine years at Jaguar Land Rover in a variety of roles, will be based at the firm’s Hethel headquarters and will be in charge of much of its day-to-day running and strategy.
“I have spent my career working with, and have a passion for famous British luxury, high-tech and pioneering brands, and Lotus, with its amazing history, definitely fits into that category," said Popham, who has joined Lotus after spending four years running yacht firm Sunseeker International. "I am looking forward to being part of the team that will drive the substantial future growth of the Lotus business.”
As previously revealed by Autocar, Lotus has already been developing its first SUV and a number of new models as part of a revival plan under Geely ownership. That will include using vehicle architecture from Geely and Volvo.
Speaking to The Financial Times, Popham said any future products would “have to be in line with what the brand stands for”.
Popham also said a return to motorsport would be considered to showcase the firm’s “racing pedigree” – and he even hinted that the firm could try to lure back James Bond. The fictional spy drove Lotus Esprits in For Your Eyes Only and The Spy Who Loved Me, but he has recently driven Aston Martin models.