Lotus chief executive officer Dany Bahar was tonight ousted from his job as the boss of Group Lotus. The Nofolk sports car maker's new Malaysian owners, DRB-Hicom, issued a terse statement confirming Bahar's departure.
As CAR earlier reported, Bahar had been suspended following an investigation into his expenses. It seemed unlikely that he'd ever return after such a public dressing-down - and tonight we heard that he wouldn't return to Hethel.
So who's in charge of Lotus Cars now?
DRB confirmed that Lotus will be led by Aslam Farikullah, 51, the firm's new chief operating officer with immediate effect. Bahar's successor will lead the company through the next chapter of its rollercoaster ride - expect a sympathetic executive trusted by the Malaysians.
Farikullah has worked in the automotive industry, was educated at Bath University and is a British resident, according to DRB.
Although DRB has publicly vowed to keep Lotus, it is checking the viability of Bahar's grandiose plan to launch five new Lotuses.
What did Bahar do wrong?
We contacted Lotus tonight and they refused to be drawn on the reasons for Bahar's exit. 'It's covered by a confidentiality agreement,' said a spokesman. But BBC Look East is reporting it was a misuse of company funds. National newspapers had previously reported that Bahar had been investigated for the use of money to pay a builder for work on one of his houses in Norfolk.
It was Bahar's vision to take humble Lotus and turn it into something more akin to his previous employer, Ferrari. Starting with the new Lotus Esprit, he aimed to give the company a renewed seriousness, pushing prices and performance ever higher.
But his masterplan always hinged on spinning a greater range of sports cars off common architectures. By seeking around 1000 sales a year of five different model lines - to include a new Elan, Eterne, Elise and Eclat, Bahar hoped he could achieve similar sales to Maranello without flooding the market and denting the exclusivity that niche sports cars require.
The Lotus statement in full
Norfolk, 7 June 2012 - Group Lotus plc (“Lotus” or the “Company”) can today confirm that, Mr Dany Bahar has been terminated from his employment as Chief Executive Officer of Lotus with immediate effect.
The decision was made by the Board of Group Lotus plc following the results of an investigation into a complaint made against him by the company’s penultimate holding company, DRB-HICOM Berhad.
The Company today also announced the appointment of Mr Aslam Farikullah as the Company’s Chief Operating Officer with immediate effect. Mr Aslam, aged 51, has over 26 years working experience, most of which was in the automotive industry. He graduated from University of Bath, England with a Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Engineering. A British permanent resident, Mr Aslam and his English wife of 27 years have three children aged 26, 22 and 16.
Dato’ Sri Haji Mohd Khamil Jamil, Group Managing Director of DRB-HICOM Berhad and also Chairman of Lotus said: “I would like to assure you that we remain committed to ensure the ongoing and future business operations of the Lotus Group as we take the Lotus Group to the next level to remain relevant in the global automotive industry. I look forward to bringing mutual benefits to not only DRB-HICOM and PROTON Holdings Berhad but also the Lotus Group and its employees as well as contribute to the growth of the British automotive industry.”