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Arnie Johnson no longer President of Lotus Cars USA

In a move that has shaken the Lotus community in the United States, Duke Hale, the new CEO of Lotus Holdings (the North American arm of Group Lotus PLC) removed Arnie Johnson from his position as president of Lotus Cars USA and has installed John English as a replacement. This move comes on the eve of the first federal Elise shipments to the US.

It's a move that has saddened and angered long term Lotus enthusiasts in the US.

Arnie Johnson first became involved with Lotus in 1971 when he was one of five distributors for the marquee in the US. His unique approach to the brand including significant racing investment led him to buy out the other distributors by decades end and create Lotus of North America. In the following years he continued his service to Lotus in the United States through several Owners including GM and Bugatti and now Proton.

Upon his elevation to president of Lotus Cars USA (LCU) in 1997 under Chris Knight’s tenure, Arnie began to push for the Elise’s import to the US. It was his own personal investment and drive that finally kick started the program and lead to the initial prototype of the car which is right now starting to trickle into dealers in the States.

His removal has caused a significant and strong tremor throughout the Lotus community in the US. Many enthusiasts "in the loop" see Arnie as the spiritual father of the Federal Elise and Lotus as a brand in the US. So significant is the created rift that many deposit holders, some with their cars on the way to dealers, are said to be considering not purchasing their new Elise to show their support for the former president!

Perhaps even more surprising, people have called on Lotus LTD (the largest Lotus Club in the US) to disallow LCU’s support for the annual Lotus Owners Gathering (LOG) set for Birmingham Alabama this September. Talk has also surfaced calling for an official recognition of Mr. Johnson for his many years of service to the brand at LOG.

The new president of LCU, John English, was appointed within hours after Mr. Johnson’s termination. With a recently completed move of LCU to a new facility and the impending launch of the new car, it was of great importance to put in place a new head as quickly as possible. Mr. English’s extensive background includes time with Hale at Mazda. To those that know him, the new president has been described as energetic and positive with a passion to see the brand grow and expand it’s presence in the US.

Many see English’s installation as president as a move by Hale to mainstream the brand in the US. Mr. English also provides experience in managing a larger brand. This will assist LCU as the product line grows in the US and may also help in the sale of Lotus if the latest rumours coming from Hethel are to be believed. An official press release from Lotus Holdings is expected later this week.
 

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Re: Re: Pistonheads article about Arnie being removed from LCUSA

huggy bear said:
Why didn't the article just refer everyone to our thread? Could have saved some time re-writing what was already speculated. *shrug*

Probably didn't want that amount of "Venom" in the article...
 

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I'm sure some of the auto press like R&T, Automobile, and Autospies were tipped off and got a link to the "Arnie Johnson gossip" thread too.
 

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I think sometimes we don't know how priviaged we are to information. The fact that this seems like old news to us is simply a reflection of our depth of knowledge. Note that Pistonheads has even scoped the trade agencies and weekly rags to this story, yet to us on the list, this is all old hash. Things said here also can't be transfered to print based on runor and speculation. In order to retain integrity, it's necessary to research and confirm things before they get posted on a web site or printed in a magazine.

Articles, like the subject one, are typically written for the benefit of those who don't know about the situation and must be written with that in mind.
 

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Hmm...since Mr Hale immediately installed a ex-Mazda acolyte.

I wonder how long it'll be before we see cheesy Mazda-esque "zoom, zoom, zoom" commercials for the Elise?

Could there be a future for TronDude in Elise commercials?

Dave
 

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To those that know him, the new president has been described as energetic and positive with a passion to see the brand grow and expand it’s presence in the US.
This may be a bit controversial, but I have to admit that if the Elise becomes "mainstream", then I may not purchase the car.

I like the Elise because it's a exotic that embodies the raw sportscar. I don't want to see myself coming and going. If I wanted to see that, I could buy a Porsche. Heck, even the "limited edition" Mustang Mach 1 and Ford Cobras are everywhere. (Approximately 10,000 made during each model year.)

Granted, we're only seeing 2,400 cars during the first year. But if Hale and English attempt to increase production to 6,000 or 10,000 cars for the US market, then I'm out.

Bob
 

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I just spoke with my dealer and he said that he knew Arnie was out, but didnt comment or have any reason to why. He was hopeful that Hale would be customer focused and have brochures and other information available for them to give out to prospective customers by the time the time the demos arrive.

Arnie may have been a great enthuisist, but what Lotus needs now is marketing and promotion in order to be successful in the US so they can get more marque recognition and be successful here in future endeavors. As long as Hale can do marketing and keep the cars true to Chapmans concept I think he will succeed.
It just stinks- Arnie should have been put in charge of worldwide Lotus Motorsports and racing and track stuff for the enthusiasts, and Hale could have focused on worldwide marketing. They dont need a president for Lotus in each country, Arnie and Hale could have VPs in each country reporting to them instead.
 

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xxxotic said:
I just spoke with my dealer and he said that he knew Arnie was out, but didnt comment or have any reason to why. He was hopeful that Hale would be customer focused and have brochures and other information available for them to give out to prospective customers by the time the time the demos arrive.

Arnie may have been a great enthuisist, but what Lotus needs now is marketing and promotion in order to be successful in the US so they can get more marque recognition and be successful here in future endeavors. As long as Hale can do marketing and keep the cars true to Chapmans concept I think he will succeed.
It just stinks- Arnie should have been put in charge of worldwide Lotus Motorsports and racing and track stuff for the enthusiasts, and Hale could have focused on worldwide marketing. They dont need a president for Lotus in each country, Arnie and Hale could have VPs in each country reporting to them instead.
I second that! I was told that Arnie's offer was for Director of Operations for LCU. Your idea is MUCH better, and would have saved face.

Either way, this entire situation makes me evaulate my long term plan with my Elise.
 

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Someone has to say it....

Coming... Fall, 2003
 
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