Geely has announced that Feng Qingfeng, the vice president and chief technical officer of Geely Auto Group, will succeed Jean-Marc Gales as chief executive officer of Group Lotus. Feng first joined the Lotus board when Geely acquired a 51% majority stake in the Norfolk-based sports car manufacturer.

Gales, a former board member of the PSA Group, joins classic car specialist JD Classics as CEO. He first joined Lotus in 2014 to steer it out of a weary, loss-making era. His departure was due to personal reasons, and told Autocar that “it’s a very emotional day” and that it was “time to move on.” Gales also said, “Lotus has been in my heart for 50 years.”

Geely’s chief financial officer and Lotus Cars chairman, Daniel Donghui Li said, “Jean-Marc has stabilised and turned Lotus to profitability for the first time in the iconic brand’s history, with new industry-leading products and unique business models since joining in 2014.”

“Lotus is poised for the next phase of growth under Feng Qingfeng’s leadership, where its expertise in lightweight materials and sport cars-engineering will form part of the wider expansion of Geely ‘s automotive portfolio. At the same time I will welcome Jean-Marc‘s council as chief strategic advisor to myself and the board of directors,” he added.

Feng said “I am honoured to have been appointed to lead this iconic British sports car group. With Geely’s global synergies and total support, I am confident that Lotus has an exciting opportunity to achieve its full potential as a luxury sports brand, based around its engineering legacy and its future product pipeline.”

In 2017, Lotus sold 1,600 cars – an increase of 10% versus 2016 – and made profit for the first time in the company’s history. All models sold were produced at its plant in Norfolk, England.

Moving forward, Lotus is planning to introduce two sports cars by 2020, one of which is a halo model that will be positioned above the Evora. It could also switch to Volvo powertrains for selected models, particularly for its first ever SUV.