In the interim, the Lotus Group's board members will assume control until a replacement for Kimberley is anointed with the bearing oil from a Lotus 25. Official press release after the jump.
The Chief Executive of Group Lotus, Mike Kimberley, announced today that he is stepping down from his role due to an ongoing back problem. An Executive Committee comprising current Group Lotus board members supported by the shareholder, Proton Holdings Bhd, will assume day-to-day control of the business until a successor is appointed.
Mike, who will be 71 in August, has been suffering from severe back pain for a number of months and underwent surgery in late 2008 which was only partially successful. His doctors have now advised him to retire so as not to jeopardize his long term health. Under these circumstances, the board has regretfully accepted his resignation.
Dato' Syed Zainal, Managing Director of Proton Holdings Bhd, said: "It is a great shame that Mike's health has forced his departure earlier than any of us would have liked. He has been a great asset to Lotus over four decades. Since his return in 2006, we have seen a huge turnaround in the fortunes of this great company. He leaves Lotus with our deep gratitude and our very best wishes for his retirement."
Under Mike's leadership, Lotus has produced the award-winning Lotus Evora, which was recently launched to the world's press with universal acclaim. He has also overseen the expansion of Lotus Engineering, one of the world's most respected high-technology engineering consultancy businesses. Group Lotus now has a positive and stable platform despite the global economic downturn and is delivering against its defined growth targets in the company's strategic business plan.
Mike Kimberley said: "Sadly, it is on doctor's orders that I am stepping down but I will leave confident that Lotus is in great shape with a strong management team fully supported by our shareholder in Malaysia. It'll be very hard to leave knowing that there are such exciting times ahead but I'll take with me many very happy memories. I want to extend my thanks to the company's shareholder for their unfailing support, my management team and the wonderful staff both at Hethel and at our various operational locations throughout the world. Most of all I want to thank our Lotus customers and loyal fans worldwide for their support over the years."
Mike will leave Lotus on 17 July 2009.
Mike Kimberley – a Very Brief Resum
Michael J. Kimberley ("Mike") C.Eng., F.I. Mech. E., F.R.S.A., F.I.E.D, F.I.M.I has had a remarkable career in the motor industry over the last 56 years, working with some of the great engineers, innovators and leaders of the worlds motor companies.
Mike started as an apprentice with Jaguar in 1953 before rapidly progressing to becoming in Section Leader, Special Projects at Jaguar in 1965 where he lead the team developing the Jaguar XJ13 Le Mans car, under such famous names as Jaguar founder Sir William Lyons and Jaguar race director Frank (Lofty) England.
In 1969, he joined Lotus as Manager of Continuous Engineering, with the Lotus Europa Twin Cam being one of his most notable projects. Mike rose steadily but rapidly through the Lotus ranks, joining the Board of Lotus aged 37, and becoming Managing Director of Lotus Cars in 1976 and Managing Director of Lotus Engineering by 1980, being responsible for such Lotus icons as the Esprit, Eclat and Elite.
During the 1970s and 80s, Mike had the unique experience of having worked closely with the company's founder Colin Chapman, with whom Mike set up the world class Lotus Engineering consultancy to enable Lotus to work for many other cars companies around the world. Lotus Engineering is now a globally recognised high technology engineering consultancy and serves many of the world's car companies.
After Colin Chapman's tragic and untimely death in 1982, Mike became C.E.O of Group Lotus plc, as well as holding board positions with a number of Lotus associated companies such as Chairman of Millbrook Proving Ground and President of Moog Systems Inc. With Lotus under General Motors ownership, Mike became Chairman of Group Lotus plc before leaving Lotus in 1992 to become Executive Vice President (General Motors Overseas Corporation) based in South East Asia. Two years later, Mike became director of the Vector Aeromotive Corporation, and in 1994, he became President & Managing Director of Automobili Lamborghini S.p.A, being responsible for the rebuilding of Lamborghini after Chrysler's ownership and prior to its sale to Audi AG, as part of the VW Group.
In the mid 1990s, Mike left Lamborghini and worked directly for Tommy Suharto as a board member of Timor Putra Nasional (owners of Lamborghini) until retiring with an undiagnosed tropical fever.
Returning to the automotive industry a few months later, Mike worked in a consultancy role for a number of organisations including Tata Motors Ltd.
In August 2005 Mike was appointed to the Lotus Group International Limited and Group Lotus plc Boards as well as other Boards of Proton. He was appointed acting Chief Executive Officer of Group Lotus plc in May 2006, confirmed as Chief Executive Officer of Group Lotus plc in September 2006.
During his second tenure at Lotus, Mike has been responsible for the creation and execution of a new 5 year strategic business plan, and the new, already award-winning Lotus Evora is the first of the range of new Lotus cars to be designed, developed, manufactured and sold by Britain's most iconic and innovative sportscar company. Lotus Engineering has expanded to become a world-class consultancy employing over 500 highly qualified engineers in five technical centres around the globe. It is revered for innovation, outstanding driving dynamics, exciting niche vehicles and efficient performance engineering.
Mike (70) is married with 3 children and 3 grand children and lives in Norwich.