After a two-week suspension due to his conduct, Dany Bahar has been fired as head of Lotus. The company’s new CEO is industry veteran Aslam Farikullah. The takeover will begin immediately, reports Reuters.
Since his takeover as head of Lotus in September of 2009 Bahar has been a polarizing figure among enthusiasts. In recent years, Bahar announced ambitious plans to revitalize and expand the small English sports car maker’s entire lineup by 2015, and has returned the Lotus name to Formula 1. Bahar, a former Ferrari marketing exec, also sought to turn Lotus into a lifestyle brand, even looping in New York rapper Swizz Beatz as a consultant and creating a special-edition Evora wrapped in red chrome.
Group Lotus, owned by Malaysian automaker Proton, said in a statement, “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.”
Though we don’t have specifics on the complaint, a Lotus insider told Motor Trend two weeks ago that Proton had contributed about 250 million ringgit, or around $79 million, for Bahar to develop the future Lotus road cars he promised. That money has apparently gone into everything but road cars, including a new Lotus headquarters in Hethel, England described as “a palace.”
Mohd Khamil Jamil, chairman of Lotus, said Proton remained “committed to ensure the ongoing and future business operations of the Lotus Group.” Hopefully this means a return to Lotus’ roots as a pure sports car maker, not a luxury lifestyle brand.