The adventure up the A11 to the Lotus manufacturing unit in Hethel, Norfolk to pay attention the trendy plan, from the brand new CEO tasked with reinvigorating the logo, has become an all-too-common occurrence in the beyond a decade.
But, five months gave that his appointment as Lotus CEO, new boss Phil Popham is keen to talk. This time, there’s cause for optimism. In 2017, Geely Auto Group (which additionally owns Volvo, Proton, Lynk&Co and makes the brand new EV London Taxi) obtained the essential shareholding in Lotus. In September 2018, Popham turned into appointed. And he’s sincerely been busy. Driving past the factory, you’re aware of sizeable growth already taking location; as will become clear during our interview, that is merely the begin.
Having spent 25 years at Jaguar Land Rover, culminating in his role as Global Operations Director, Popham left in 2014 to sign up for Sunseeker Yachts. He spent four years there, turning the business around, earlier than being approached by way of Geely to run Lotus.
Popham admits that there had been, in his words, “only a few car manufacturers” he could have been interested in operating for. However, he defined that “the combination of the attraction of Lotus being an iconic British logo with a rich history and wealth of engineering credibility and desirability, together with the seriousness Geely become taking inside the emblem’s reinvigoration” persuaded him to Norfolk.
While the expansion of the modern web page is ongoing, creation is about to begin on an all-new purpose-constructed Customer Experience Centre located after the FIA-accepted check track. This will form the focal point for visitors and offer direct access to the tune for check drives.
The Lotus factory has grown organically over the past 70 years and is a long way from the unique vision Chapman deliberate while he first designed the ability. As part of the redevelopment, the helipad, lake, and fountains (all laid out via Chapman, but unluckily left to go to pot) will be recommissioned.
In addition to the Experience Centre, Lotus is developing a Heritage Centre containing a museum and eating place, for you to be based inside the restored authentic frontage of the Lotus facility. Chapman’s boardroom, complete with its specific light-weight roof design (another Chapman original), will even function.
But to hold the brand alive, it wishes to look forwards, not merely reference the past. And this time it has to supply. In 2018, Lotus offered 1,630 vehicles. Popham believes the modern-day facility has the capability to supply five,000, and informed us he has spent the beyond five months “agreeing the approach and funding to supply that”.
Hethel will stay the home of Lotus Cars and sports activities vehicle manufacturing, however with the emblem “able to pass into some of unique sectors”, enlargement past 5,000 motors would see production placed some place else. Quite wherein within the Geely meals chain remains to be confirmed but, given the dimensions of the enterprise, for the logo to achieve success no longer the entirety may be built in Norfolk.
However, Popham is keen to emphasize to us “the DNA of what makes a Lotus, and a way to practice the ones attributes to a car are, and constantly may be, driven from here thru the knowledge and revel in we’ve got inside the crew”.