Lotus’s new path to recovery as a car manufacturer is to build an own-brand range of non-sports models including a saloon and an SUV, according to a Malaysian website which in the past has proved accurate at reporting secret proceedings in the boardrooms of Proton, the sports car maker’s parent.
According to our source, the saloon and SUV scheme is the brainchild of new Lotus CEO and European industry heavyweight, Jean-Marc Gales, appointed at the beginning of May to “drive Lotus’s transformation plan".
Gales’ specific mission is clearly to restore the viability of car manufacturing at Hethel — after a plan two years earlier to expand sports car manufacture by making six different models, espoused by his ex-Ferrari predecessor, Dany Bahar, failed spectacularly. Since then, Proton (with Lotus) has itself been sold to a new owner, Malaysian-based DRB-Hicom.
What are we to make of the Gales scheme, if the reports are true? First impression: it sounds a lot more believable than the previous plan for three key reasons.
One: Jean-Marc Gales is a genuine European industry heavyweight who led the PSA Group for three years between 2009 and 2012, and introduced the super-successful DS marque during his tenure. He knows how modern car manufacturing works better than any previous Lotus boss.