New design chief at Lotus | CAR Magazine

New design chief at Lotus

Published: 22 October 2014 Updated: 26 January 2015

Lotus has a new face in charge of the crayons at Hethel, having announced that experienced designer Russell Carr has been appointed as Head of Design.

Haven’t I heard of Russell Carr before?

You probably have: it’s not Carr’s first turn in charge of Lotus’ design department. He first joined the company in 1990 and in his time there has overseen plenty of tricky design challenges, from Esprit facelifts to the Evora.

Carr replaces former Ferrari designer Donato Coco at the helm of Hethel’s colouring-in department. Chief designer for the last five years, Coco is one of the few remaining faces from former CEO Dany Bahar’s high-profile recruitment drive during his ill-fated stint in charge. One of his first tasks was the rather difficult one of bringing five concept cars to life in record time for the 2010 Paris show.

Coco will leave Lotus on 31st October 2014, and says his time at the company has been ‘one of the strongest experiences in my career so far, and I will look back with great fondness and affection for this iconic company.”

What’s next for Lotus?

Lotus’ current CEO, the former Peugeot-Citroen boss Jean-Marc Gales has said: ‘I would like to thank Donato for his contribution to Lotus over the last five years and wish him well in his future ventures. Donato leaves a legacy of a strong, motivated and talented team within Lotus Design which under the new leadership of Russell will continue to design innovative, authentic and iconic Lotus products.’

Question is, what will those products be?

An update to the Evora is likely to be the first post-it on Carr’s drawing board, a car he’s well-placed to overhaul as he oversaw its design in the first place. Beyond that, his team may also need to work over a few Proton hard points in the future, as Jean-Marc Gales has hinted that parts sharing programmes with the Malaysian manufacturer are likely to be on the cards sooner rather than later.

Lotus is battling through some stormy weather at the moment, with the news of job cuts last month and only 180 cars sold in the UK in the first nine months of 2014. Here’s hoping a bit of design wizardry from Carr and his team can help turn things around.

By James Taylor

Former features editor for CAR, occasional racer