Manufacturing News

Geely Auto Group tech chief to lead Lotus

Zhejiang Geely Holding Group has tapped Geely Auto Group’s chief technical officer, Feng Qingfeng, to be CEO of Lotus. He succeeds Jean-Marc Gales, who had led the U.K. sports car brand since 2014.

Feng’s appointment is effective immediately, Geely Holding said in a statement Monday.

Gales, 55, left the post for personal reasons and will become chief strategic adviser to Lotus Chairman Daniel Donghui Li, according to Geely Holding.

Last year, Geely Holding acquired a 51 percent stake in Lotus as part of a deal to acquire 49.9 percent of struggling Malaysian carmaker Proton from local business conglomerate DRB-Hicom.

After announcing the deal, the Chinese company pledged to accelerate development of new products and technologies at Lotus.

Feng, 45, is the second Chinese manager Geely Holding has dispatched to run Proton and Lotus. In August, it appointed Li Chunrong, a former executive of state-owned Chinese automaker Dongfeng Motor Group, as CEO of Proton.

Lotus, with annual sales that increased 10 percent to 1,600 last year, generated an annual profit after years of losses.

After years of underinvestment, Lotus plans a product offensive that includes its first SUV and an updated range of sports cars as part of Geely Holding’s goal to increase production to more than 10,000 vehicles from 1,600.

Feng is already a Lotus board member. He is also a board member of Geely Holding’s Lynk & CO, a recently launched brand partially owned by Volvo Cars.

Feng's appointment as CEO likely will accelerate the introduction of Geely technology into new Lotus models, and likely increase parts sharing with Volvo, a strategy already used at Geely Holding’s taxi company, the London Electric Vehicle Co. Lotus uses Toyota engines in all its models.

Automotive News Europe contributed to this report.

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