By on June 7, 2012

 

Dany Bahar has been dismissed effective immediately by Group Lotus following an investigation into Bahar’s spending practices.

“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.”

Bahar was under scrutiny for charging home renovations and private aircraft to the company while Lotus was in the red and behind on its loan payments. Of course, excess spending in the corporate world is nothing new, but when you’ve overstayed your welcome, it’s a great way to get yourself canned.

The tragedy is that Bahar’s vision, while ruthlessly mocked, was fairly sound, even if he exhibited questionable conduct as an individual. Lotus needs to appeal to more than just the hairshirt types who buy the Elise and Exige, and their new cars are being well received by the UK media (we won’t be getting the wild Exige S V6 unfortunately). Hopefully DRB-Hicom has someone waiting in the wings that can execute a long-term strategy for Lotus.

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27 Comments on “Dany Bahar Fired Effective Immediately...”


  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Lotus is a dead company walking.

    As it is, they aren’t even a real manufacturer in the sense that even other low volume exotic producers (e.g. Ferrari) are; Lotus is more of a design/engineering firm than a manufacturing one.

    The best option for Lotus would be to package, bundle and ship build-it-yourself kit cars, using 75% fire sales marketing.

    They could even let their customers find their own locally sourced Toyota 1.8 motors, saving even more money in the process.

    Jeremy Clarkson has yet one more thing “British” to mourn today, as he yammers on ripping most things about other nations, and as the U.K. is revealed for the nation that can only engineer AND manufacture things like credit derivatives, as many of us have known all along.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      I think Clarkson has been pretty consistent in saying that the Jaguar E-Type was the last great thing the UK made. I think you take him way too seriously. He makes fun of everyone/everything, including himself and the UK.

    • 0 avatar
      Caboose

      “The best option for Lotus would be to package, bundle and ship build-it-yourself kit cars, using 75% fire sales marketing.

      But don’t we already have the Ariel Atom?

    • 0 avatar
      robc123

      British- clarkson? I don’t think so, they slam brit cars at every opportunity.
      Bristol? Never mentioned on top gear since the old one. The passing of it? never mentioned. Lyonheart- never mentioned. look it up, its just awesomeness.
      (and no it wasn’t that new imitation jag mentioned last season)

      Or that car manufacturer in the UK that used a buick engine to get an absurd mpg, with a cool looking chassis, never mentioned. The brits have so much opportunity with experimental builds being able to be licensed and driven- wouldn’t that be great in North America?

      I agree with the kit option.

      • 0 avatar
        CRConrad

        @robc123: If you mean the folks at http://www.lyonheart.com/ , that certainly looks exactly like an imitation Jag (a slightly updated E-type, to be precise).

        If that’s not what you mean, then why didn’t you post a link in stead of just say “look it up”?

        Oh BTW, the TopGear appearance you refer to seems also to be precisely this “Lyonheart”: http://www.topgear.com/uk/car-news/lyonheart-k-revealed-2012-02-21 .

    • 0 avatar
      iainthornton

      Clarkson…..just read some reviews of British cars. Anything made by Rover Group, for instance. You all believe he loves the British car industry, which just isn’t particularly true.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        Clarkson adores anything Land Rover (*Cough* Tata), Jaguar (*cough* *cough* Tata), and slobbers exhaustive praise over just about anything Aston Martin (hey, it least it’s British owned as of 2007 thanks to David Richards of Prodrive).

        We know that, statistically speaking, Land Rover, Jaguar and Aston Martin produce some of the most unreliable vehicles in modern times.

        Even though Tata owns LR & Jaguar, some things never change.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Gotta watch those private aircraft expenses.

  • avatar
    imag

    “Hopefully DRB-Hicom has someone waiting in the wings that can execute a long-term strategy for Lotus.” Hear, hear. I will be eternally hopeful that this is a good step for them, not the death knell.

    Wert is going to be thrilled.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    Adding a wing to your house on expense account – $$$$$$
    Buying an aircraft on the company dime – $$$$
    Living lavishly while the company misses debt – priceless

  • avatar

    Bahar’s conduct reflected the problems with his strategy, which though more “fundamentally sound” than the previous business model, was deeply flawed. “Launching” a raft of design bucks before deciding whether to use Toyota engines or build drivetrains in-house, the lifestyle imaging/swag blitz, the celebrity-suckup routine… Bahar proved that just selling sizzle isn’t enough. The model for success in this industry is Kaizen, continuous improvement, not Red Bull-style, image-based marketing with no substance beneath it.

    Lotus definitely needs a new direction, and Derek is right that it needs to be something more than a purist’s fetish-car maker. But Bahar’s approach was equally flawed (just in different ways), and I hope Lotus’s new bosses find some kind of middle ground for the company. Or find a way to merge with McLaren so at least the UK has one top-tier supercar company…

    • 0 avatar
      imag

      The design launch was supposed to be impressive. Who would think that enthusiasts would react to a massive investment in a great car company with a collective set of whining? I couldn’t believe that the response to Lotus trying to build a great new line of cars would be such a set of moaning and griping. Who cares if the dates on some of them would slip?

      As far as the suckup routine – I still think they are right on that. They need the average person to know – and care – what a Lotus is. They need the footballers, the rich idiots who don’t know anything about cars, to want them. Those are the people who keep Ferrari and Porsche in the money – not the enthusiasts.

      And they were trying to bring the improvements at the same time. The Evora and Exige both got desperately needed improvements.

      The engine thing was a tough call. It’s still hard to know how best to handle that. The truth was, the panache wasn’t there with Lexus motors. Even from a practical standpoint, they aren’t particularly small or light for their output.

      I’m not saying it’s all been perfect, but the moaning that has gone on makes me wonder why they really should bother. The people who claim to like Lotus seem to prefer it to be terminally cool.

    • 0 avatar
      imag

      And Ed – Lotus had Kaizened the Exige/Elise into the ground. They added horsepower and dropped weight every other year. Look at what it got them – sales in the toilet. People liked to talk about light, but only a few wanted to buy it – and those folks already had.

      They needed a horsepower injection. They also needed a new platform in order to deal with safety and all the refinement gripes. And at the cost of platforms these days, it made sense to look at how they could leverage that same architecture five ways from Sunday. That was the real point of the concepts – to show that the VVA was multi-use, that they could build a whole car company on it.

      Anyway, people have proclaimed Lotus dead for decades. They still seem to have some of the best chassis tuning in the business, so hopefully that counts for something in the end. If there’s a merger, it should be with Aston. Their engineering plus Aston’s brand and design could be gold.

      • 0 avatar

        I meant Kaizen in terms of product portfolio and brand development, not in terms of individual model development. And though I agree that platform flexibility would be key to a company like Lotus’s survival, that doesn’t mean you blow any suspense about the company’s direction at once. If nothing else Bahar should have talked about the flexibility of the Esprit’s underpinnings, waited until it validated his aspirations for the brand, and then started teasing/rolling out new models. Instead he killed years of news coverage and curiosity by presenting everything at once, without overwhelming everyone with a sense that the brand was going somewhere specific (without which the lifestyle/celeb stuff is meaningless).

        I have a few more thoughts in Derek’s most recent post as well…

      • 0 avatar
        imag

        Fair enough. And I do agree that the celebrity stuff was stupid to roll out before the Esprit was there…

  • avatar
    Jack Baruth

    Is that a photo of Jamie Lannister?

  • avatar
    sean362880

    I thought it was David Duchovny.

  • avatar
    1998redwagon

    +1

    David Duchovny!

    that’s where i know that face from.

  • avatar
    hgrunt

    I see a little bit of Michael J Fox and Charlie Sheen in there too.

    Must be the chin.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    But he got a plane and a bigger house, isn’t that kaizen enough?

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Hey man. As great as his vision was, it wasn’t his vision that got him fired.

  • avatar
    baggins

    Derek – If I can ask, what is your corporate experience?

    This isnt “excess spending”, its inappropriate spending. Contrary to what you might believe, and what a few rogue companys/execs have done, Its not commonplace in 2012 to be charging home expansions to company **without Comp Committee approval** and appropriate taxes on those benefits.

    If an exec wants to spend 300 bucks on a bottle of wine while on a dinner for corporate purpopse, that might be excessive spending, but does happen a lot. If he spends 300 bucks on a hooker, falsifies receipts and charges it to the company, thats not common, and will often lead to dismissal. Agree that a warning and a trip to sex addict therapy is possible.

    But there is a distinction is between what many would see as “excess”, and fraud. Charging home improvements wouldn’t be appropriate at Apple, a company with a multi billion dollar cash hoard. Lotus’s shitty cash position is not really relevant.

  • avatar
    robc123

    Fired but with how big an exit pkg? second question, why so long? Watch the teflon don pop his slimy head up somewhere else quite soon and create more havoc.

    10 bucks says he is going to be in finance in Europe next.

    Lotus as a whole should be divested from the parent and sold to a group that can make something of it- slowly. Make 1 model well. Drop the elise and exige if they don’t make money- they will be sooner or later with that EU idiot pedestrian guidelines. Spin off the car division to a kit car manufacturer. Keep the suspension IP.

    I don’t see the elise competing with boxster for the same money not now with the 2012 one- besides they only sell like 16k boxsters a yr, so $1b segment- for a car manufacturer that’s like nothing.

    Ideally I would like to see mazda pick em up. mx-5 + elise + mazda 3 turbo engine= sweet bliss.

    But mazda is doing pretty badly right now- too much overhead and BS corporate stuff like owning a baseball team.

    Or skoda could pick them up and integrate into their rally cars. Skoda Fabia S2000 with lotus suspension, something like that.

    Or any of the Detroit idiots- god knows all of their cars need handling Corvette with lotus handling?

    Would certainly make my impending mid life crisis more palatable.


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