Lotus CEO Jean-Marc Gales is feeling optimistic. China's fast-expanding Zhejiang Geely Holding took a majority stake in Lotus last year and recently committed to its first big investment in the British sports-car maker. This will allow Lotus to add staff, new models and upgrade its production facilities in Norwich, England. During his four years as CEO, Gales has steadied the company's finances. Now his challenge is making Lotus's first SUV a winner without damaging its reputation as a maker of lightweight, agile sports cars. Gales spoke to Automotive News Europe Correspondent Nick Gibbs.
Lotus has been part of Zhejiang Geely Holding for more than six months now. What changes are taking place?
We will hire 300 new staff this year. Last December we were at 806, the lowest for a long, long time, so we will go to 1,100, almost a 40 percent increase.
Are the majority of the new hires going to work in vehicle development?
Most are. Geely has approved two new sports cars. We will tell you what they are in five months, but both will come in 2020. Our last new car [the Evora] was in 2009 so it's time for a new one.
Will these be flagship models or entry-level sports cars?
I can't be more precise, but both will be a benchmark in the segment in terms of handling, aerodynamics and lightweight.