It's been about two years since DRB-Hicom took over Proton, and through it Lotus. One of its first courses of action was to fire the existing CEO, Dany Bahar, and proceed to scrap most if not all of his (arguably over-) ambitious plans. In his place they put one of their own – Aslam Farikullah – as Chief Operation Officer, but now the Malaysian-owned British automaker has attracted an industry heavyweight to lead it into the future.

That heavyweight is Jean-Marc Gales. The British- and German-educated Luxembourgian has spent the past couple of years running the European Association of Automotive Suppliers (CLEPA), but may be better known for his previous posting as CEO of PSA Peugeot Citroën between 2009 and 2012, during which time he introduced the Citroën DS line, amongst others, and increased the French automaker's sales. Before PSA he worked for Daimler, General Motors and Volkswagen.

As the new Chief Executive Officer of Group Lotus, Gales will face the difficult task of growing a business based on three models – the Elise, Exige and Evora – that date back to 1996, 2000 and 2009, respectively. Whether he'll push for new models like his predecessor did remains to be seen, but he'd be wise to learn from Bahar's mistakes and avoid overextending what has always been a relatively small automaker.
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PROTON Holdings Berhad ("PROTON") today announced the appointment of Jean-Marc Gales as the new Chief Executive Officer of Group Lotus plc, effective 1 May 2014. Lotus is a wholly owned subsidiary of PROTON and a member of the DRB-HICOM Group.

Gales, a Luxembourgian, holds an MSc in Management from London's ImperialCollege, and an MSc in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Karlsruhe in Germany.

A known industry player, Gales has held several significant positions with numerous global automotive manufacturers. Prior to his new appointment at Lotus, Gales was Chief Executive Officer of the European Association of Automotive Suppliers ("CLEPA") since 2012, where he played a key role in turning around the association through various strategic initiatives, including streamlining the working processes and increasing corporate members from 82 to 112. Gales also established a lobbying strategy with the European Parliament and European Commission, and helped define the Industry Research & Innovation Strategy and Roadmap for 2025.

Before joining CLEPA, Gales was the President of Automobiles Citroen and Automobiles Peugeot between 2009 and 2012, where he restructured the entire sales value chain and implemented a new brand strategy for the DS Line and introduced the Citroen DS in major markets around the world. During his tenure there, the Company delivered record retail sales in 2009 and 2010.

Gales' other previous appointments include several senior positions in Daimler AG, General Motors and Volkswagen AG.

Aslam Farikullah, current Chief Operating Officer of Group Lotus plc, remains as Member of the Board of Lotus Cars Limited and will continue to contribute to the growth of the business in the future.

Jean-Marc Gales and Aslam Farikullah

PROTON Chief Executive Officer, Dato' Abdul Harith Abdullah is pleased to welcome Gales to the Group. "This is an exciting time for Lotus, and Jean-Marc's appointment could not have come at a more appropriate time, especially taking into account our plans for Lotus. We believe that with his strong technical and managerial expertise and leadership, Jean-Marc will be able to drive the Lotus transformation plan and further enhance Lotus' business and capabilities."

Jean-Marc Gales is married and has one daughter.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 1 Year Ago
      Forget the overly ambitious 5-car plan and just produce a new Esprit. That would bring attention to the brand and start "their" ball rolling again.
      • 1 Year Ago
      What is that in the photo? Build it!
      • 1 Year Ago
      I'm going to take a wild guess that this guy is just as clueless about electric drive as the previous CEOs so it will be more of the same massive losses in coming years and they will think it was a mystery why it didn't work.
      • 1 Year Ago
      Lotus needs to figure out what one car is going to be their lifeblood and build a new one toot sweet- whether a new 4C competitor, a new Esprit, or follow the money and do an SUV (sacrilege). with 65% of their models 15+ yrs old, they might as well be dead. They need new product now- they should be releasing a mid-cycle refresh (Evora + the make believe 2nd gen Exige) and ready with the 3rd gen Elise.
        • 1 Year Ago
        Actually, if they just started exporting the elise and exige to the USA again that would pretty much tide them over. Demand is still high for those cars on the used market, nothing can compete.
          • 1 Year Ago
          Interesting. I didn't know they stopped exporting here, but with all of their inability to come up with a long-term plan, I'm not surprised. The car in the photo is beautiful, though obviously nothing new from them stylistically, cribbing heavily from their mid-late 90s drafting tables. I agree, they need some serious injection of business growth ideas. And to probably extract themselves from the exorbitantly expensive F1 program. That can't be helping their small coffers or engineering prowess *THAT* much that they need to continue it. But since I don't keep up on racing news, perhaps someone will explain why I'm incorrect in that assumption.
      Mark Rigby
      • 1 Year Ago
      To clarify, the Lotus F1 programme does not cost Lotus anything. Not a bean. Genii, who own the team, licensed the use of the name back in the Bahar era. All that advertising is completely free. Has been, always will be. And Group Lotus (Engineering and Cars) have absolutely no involvement in the Lotus F1 team whatsoever. Apart from spinning their PR of course. And if our US cousins are not fully aware of what Lotus are building, check out Chris Harris' video review -
      • 1 Year Ago
      Looks like a Ferrari 308..BUILD IT!!
        Mark Rigby
        • 1 Year Ago
        As already explained, that is not a concept car. Lotus have been building it - the Exige S - for over a year and there is currently a 4 to 6 month waiting list. Lotus is NOT dead and IS building great cars, at the rate of around 50 a week!
      • 1 Year Ago
      I was not a fan of Bahar. Actually, that's putting it mildly- I remember seeing the multiple Lotus concepts and thought that Bahar was building a house of cards, but the concepts that he showed were pretty good looking. I think the best bet would be for Lotus to develop a modular platform. Start with the Elise, take it mainstream and price it around the (base) Vette with Cayman/Boxster levels of quality, dynamics and power. Then stretch it to a 2+2 platform and have it compete with the 911 and 911S at MOST. None of this 911 competitor that only competes with the Turbo.
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