Lotus appoints new CEO of sports cars

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Lotus Sports Cars CEO Phil Popham

Former Jaguar-Land Rover executive Phil Popham has joined British sports car maker Lotus. Lotus company announced Thursday that Phil Popham will join the company as Senior Vice President of Commercial Operations for Group Lotus and CEO of Lotus Sports Cars.

Popham will report directly to Lotus Group CEO Feng Qingfeng, who took over the top CEO role from Jean-Marc Gales. Gales left his position this past June to take the top position at classic car retailer and restorer JD Classics, which left Qingfeng, a long-time executive at Lotus’ new owner, Geely, in the top role. However, Qingfeng is based in China; Popham will be based in the company’s Hethel, England, headquarters and oversee day-to-day operations and strategy. Before his appointment, Popham was CEO of yacht company Sunseeker International.

“I have spent my career working with, and have a passion for famous British luxury, high-tech and pioneering brands, and Lotus, with its amazing history, definitely fits into that category. I am looking forward to being part of the team that will drive the substantial future growth of the Lotus business,” Popham said of his appointment.

The new CEO will apply his affinity for luxury brands directly to Lotus. The brand’s Chinese ownership has big plans to transform Lotus into a world-challenging premium brand and shift focus away from only building lightweight track weapons.

An August report from said Geely could invest as much as $2 billion to transform the brand into something akin to Porsche. We already know Lotus has at least one SUV on the way, which the company swears will adhere to its lightweight strategy, even if it won’t be a race-circuit brawler.

It won’t be all luxury SUVs, though. The British marque has two new sports cars planned for 2020, both ahead of the SUV’s launch. The Esprit name may also get a reprise, according to the an interview Gales conducted with in May.

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