Former BMW, Mini and Rolls-Royce boss, Karl-Heinz Kalbfell, has joined Lotus as an advisor to CEO Dany Bahar and to provide the Norfolk sports car company with “operational support”.
Kalbfell, who lived in the UK for six months when he headed Rolls-Royce’s Goodwood operation in 2004, will be based at Lotus’s HQ in Hethel, Norfolk. The company has also hired another ex-Ferrari, ex-Bentley executive, Guillaume Chabin, as director of sales.
The moves continue Dany Bahar’s now-familiar practice of hiring car industry managers of long experience. He already has former GM-Ford-Chrysler guru Bob Lutz on the strength.
“Karl-Heinz has incredible experience of working in very senior positions throughout the automotive industry,” says Bahar. “His main role initially will be to bring together all existing efforts across the departments and ensure we are working as a united force.”
Kalbfell spent most of his career at BMW, working on both the engineering and marketing sides of the business. He was responsible for BMW’s M-saloons in their early days, was instrumental in putting a BMW V12 into the McLaren F1 supercar, did the engine supply deal between BMW and Morgan that still survives, and was involved in the earliest days of BMW’s Mini and Rolls-Royce projects.
He shocked industry pundits by leaving BMW in 2004 to take over Alfa Romeo and Maserati, but left those jobs soon afterwards following ‘differences’ with then newly appointed Fiat group chairman, Sergio Marchionne.