Jean-Marc Gales Takes the Reins as Lotus’ CEO; Can He Save the Brand?
As of this month, Group Lotus will be led by Jean-Marc Gales, the former CEO of the European Association of Automotive Suppliers and former president of Citroen and Peugeot, Malaysia’s Proton — parent company of Lotus — revealed today.
Responsible for implementing a brand-new strategy and restructuring Citroen’s sales value chain with the brand-new DS line, the 51-year old is expected to "drive the Lotus transformation plan and further enhance Lotus’ business and capabilities."
Specific details about the company’s immediate plans under Gales haven’t been disclosed, but the Luxembourgian is likely to come up with a new game plan by the end of the year and decide whether or not Lotus should go ahead with reviving the much-rumored Esprit.
Click past the jump to read about the Lotus’s recent woes
Why it Matters
Lotus is in dire need of a new brand strategy, as well as a couple of new models to replace the aging Elise and Exige. Gales’ success with Citroen is encouraging on paper, but the two companies are playing in different fields and are facing distinct issues.
With Lotus’ net losses at more than $250 million last year, Gales is already under pressure and needs to act fast to improve sales and cut debt to a minimum. He needs plenty of brilliant ideas to become a hero, but it takes just one mistake to bury Lotus once and for all.
The Woes of Lotus
The Brits finished last year with a £167.8 million ($283 million) net loss as global sales dropped by 40 percent to roughly 1,180 units. That’s a long way off the company’s goal to deliver more than 4,000 examples a year by 2015. With that plan down the drain, Lotus isn’t likely to sell more than 4,000 vehicles over the next couple of years, so it’s back to the drawing board.
Financial troubles aside, Lotus lacks a proper vehicle lineup, with its most recent brand-new model, the Evora, being four years old. An updated Exige was indeed introduced in 2012, but the overall design still goes back to the Series 1 model, which was launched in 2000. Moving over to the Elise, a third-gen model has yet to arrive, although a concept car was shown in 2010. A facelifted Elise is on sale since 2011.