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The CEO of Lotus Cars Reveals His Plans to Get the Storied Marque Back on Track

Phil Popham explains why, with new ownership, the British marque feels like a 70-year-old startup.

Phil Popham CEO of LotusPhil Popham CEO of Lotus at their production line, Norwich, UK - 08 May 2019 David Rose/Shutterstock

The UK’s enigmatic Lotus Cars has had a rough road the last few years, with shifts in leadership and financial backing. But now under new ownership by Chinese auto group Geely, and with industry veteran Phil Popham in the driver’s seat, the company looks like it’s about to turn the corner.

So, what’s the plan to rejuvenate the Lotus brand?

We are a sports car brand. That is our heritage, and that’s our short-term focus, but we have the potential to go beyond that and expand into different segments.

How will you position the brand?

It really is about not only returning Lotus to its former glory but taking it beyond that with model range, volume and market development. The awareness of Lotus around the world is pretty high. People remember Colin Chapman and the Formula 1 days, but familiarity with what we are today is low. It’s time to look at the past and incorporate all the positives that made us stand out, but we won’t be shackled by our history. We describe ourselves now as a 70-year startup.

How will the model range expand?

Our first model under Geely ownership will be an electric hypercar that will come to the US and be on sale next year. We are also in the process of developing a new sports car, and we are investing in new platforms as well. Electrification will not be our only propulsion system, but it will be a major part of our future.

What gives you the most reason for optimism?

We know where we want to go, we’ve got an incredibly ambitious owner that’s willing to fund the business and it’s one of the few opportunities like this that the industry has seen in a long time—to take a famous brand and rejuvenate it.

Penske Luxury

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