Lotus wants to compete head to head with Ferrari, both on the race track and in the showroom. The Hethel, England-based automaker has made some bold personnel moves in recent years, and it's just announced that former Ferrari North America boss Maurizio Parlato has been appointed CEO of the brand’s U.S. operation.
Parlato isn’t the first Ferrari employee recruited by Lotus. In 2009, the British automaker hired Donato Coco
, the designer behind such Ferraris as the F430 Scuderia and the 458 Italia. In 2010, Lotus hired industry executives Guillaume Chabin and Karl-Heinz Kalbfell
from Ferrari and BMW, respectively.Lotus
isn’t just recruiting white collar talent with a history at Ferrari, either: last week, the Lotus Renault Formula 1 team announced the hiring of former Ferrari driver (and 2007 F1 champion) Kimi Raikkonen
, who returns to Formula 1 after two seasons in the World Rally Championship.
The driving force behind these recruiting moves is Lotus CEO Danny Bahar, who spent time at Ferrari during his career. It’s likely that Bahar worked with Maurizio Parlato during his time at Ferrari, since Automotive News
(subscription required) explains that Parlato’s career with Ferrari spanned some two decades.
Parlato’s first task will be strengthening Lotus’ U.S. dealer network in anticipation of selling cars that will compete against Ferrari in terms of performance, but at more mainstream price points. His experience (and contacts) in the industry may be just what the brand needs, assuming it can get the funding to produce the concept cars it’s already shown.