Lotus commercial chief leaves after 18 months

Mike Johnstone, Lotus’s chief commercial officer and the brand’s most senior executive in Europe, is leaving the company, Autocar understands. 

Johnstone is officially still the firm’s commercial boss, responsible for all products and reporting directly to China-based CEO Qingfeng Feng, and is simply on a leave of absence from the business, but his departure will be announced in due course. 

He is understood to have made the decision himself, and is said to be planning to remain in the automotive industry in some capacity, having identified unspecified opportunities already. 

Johnstone’s departure follows the publication of Lotus Technology’s first results as a listed company on 8 April. These revealed a loss of close to £600 million in 2023, and showed that the firm is barely 5% of the way to its sales goal of 150,000 units in just four years time.

The firm’s share price has halved since the IPO on the New York Stock Exchange in late February.  

Feng is rarely seen or heard in public, and Johnstone has been positioned as the main face of the brand since his appointment, including a recent wide-reaching interview with Autocar.

Johnstone joined Lotus from Geely-owned sibling brand Volvo a year and a half ago and has overseen a significant restructure of Lotus’s operations and footprint. 

Lotus Technology is soon to open a new headquarters in London and Hethel-based Lotus Cars has been repositioned as a factory supplying the sports cars into Lotus Technology rather than as the base of the brand.

The Lotus Eletre and upcoming Lotus Emeya are electric cars built in China, where the bulk of the firm’s production will take place.

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