Good news out of Lotus, of the kind that I suspect we should get used to in the short term: a new hiring.
It takes less time to put people in place than it does cars into production, even under the stewardship of a company like Lotus’s Geely parent, which has recently transformed Volvo.
If Geely’s plan with Lotus goes anything like it did with Volvo, which it took over in 2010, things will go a bit quiet barring announcements like this one. And then – boom – the model introduction will start. Volvo’s XC90 only went into production late in 2014 but, when a new V40 arrives next year, it’ll be the oldest car in a nine-model line-up.
Popham’s appointment prompted some discussion among my colleagues: do people, aside from people like us, know what a Lotus actually is these days? It has been so long since it won an F1 world title or James Bond drove an Esprit that you wonder whether in the wider world people know what Lotus, which has been turning out brilliant-handling lightweight sports cars but for not enough money and in not enough quantities, actually stands for?
Earlier this year, Geely’s take on where the firm was going was this: “Geely is fully committed to restoring Lotus into being a leading global luxury brand,” though it makes you wonder when, if ever, it really was one.
I reckon anyone with the mildest of interest in cars has got a sound enough idea of what Lotus is: if you’ve heard of the company, you’ll know it makes sports cars. That’s enough, isn’t it?
So it’s in metal, rather than wondering what the brand stands for, where my interest lies: the brand’s image will mould to reflect whatever type of car it makes. If it makes good cars, people will buy them, and the brand takes care of itself.
I’m more intrigued about what these cars will be powered by. Lotus needs a sports car architecture, likely of its own to underpin its future sports cars and, presumably, another Volvo-based one for SUVs.