New boss Phil Popham will leave no stone unturned.
“Today we are a 1700-sales-a-year firm,” says newly-appointed boss of Lotus, Phil Popham. His rise to the top-job in Norfolk was charted shortly after Chinese juggernaut Geely took the company from its former minders, and since then he’s been making full use of the newfound success the company’s enjoying. Lotus is a profitable enterprise now, and so Popham will capitalise on that influx (and also Geely’s vast reserves of wealth) to chart a proud, enviable course for the company he describes as a “70-year-old start-up.”
Already the company has announced the Type 130, a fully-electric hypercar that’ll set the tone for Lotus going into the future (and hopefully showing Tesla who’s boss). Additionally, Norfolk has already indicated that there will be a new sports car that’ll come ahead of the renewal of the Elise, Exige, and Evora. That’s part of the 5-year plan according to Popham, but there could be more in the pipeline.
“There’s a lot of talk about an SUV, but we haven’t confirmed that. We are rebuilding the business around sports cars and that’s the priority, but we do believe that once that is done, this brand has the DNA and heritage to go further.” – Phil Popham, Chief Executive Officer, Lotus Cars
Ahem… sorry, we’ve seen the legal documents surrounding the SUV. To lean back and say ‘Hey, we didn’t confirm squat’ at this point is just hilarious to us. We know Lotus has an SUV; We even know that they’re looking to make use of the SPA architecture developed jointly between Volvo & Geely. What we want to know is what else Lotus has up their sleeves. To that end, Popham was surprisingly forthcoming.
“[The future of Lotus] could mean GTs, crossovers, SUVs, sporting saloons, or just about anything else. The plans are open, and we’ll look at every potential area in a very detailed way, considering all areas.” – Phil Popham, Chief Executive Officer, Lotus Cars
It’s not just the product planning that he was quite forward about, either. Popham endeared himself to automotive media by also talking at pretty decent length about how his company will approach the new wave of mobility, by which we mean autonomous transportation.
“I see our cars having the capability [of autonomy in the future] and our owners using that in the city, before hitting the ‘Lotus’ button on a country road or track and taking control. Electrification brings challenges and opportunities. In time, I don’t think people will notice the loss of engine noise - for us, it’s about the dynamics.” – Phil Popham, Chief Executive Officer, Lotus Cars
Popham is acutely aware of the challenges that Lotus faces, but he also knows where the company shines. It’s a company that’s very agile compared to its rivals, despite the recent spate of recruitments and rumoured £1.5-billion cash influx. It’s that agility that he wants to capitalise on, in order for the company to “grow exponentially” and distance itself from the handouts that’s become the norm for Lotus.
“We have to take a leap,” he concluded at the FT Future of the Car Summit. And that’s exactly what Lotus needs.