In a statement released this evening, DRB-Hicom announced the appointment of Mohd Aslam Bin Farikullah as Lotus’ new Chief Operating Officer (COO), at the same time as they confirmed the termination of Dany Bahar as Group Lotus CEO.
But who is Aslam Bin Farikullah and what does his appointment mean for the future of Lotus?
Well, firstly he’s not a man we should expect to see (or hear) much from. Unlike Bahar, whose name is currently mentioned in 466,000 search listings on Google, Bin Farikullah appears in just 81 entries. In fact there’s very little known about a man who’s worked at DRB-Hicom since 2007 and is one of the Malaysian company’s most senior executives.
Bin Farikullah is 51 years of age and has worked most of his 26 years in the automotive industry. He graduated from the University of Bath, England with a Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Engineering and is also an Associate Member of the UK Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE).
He started his career as an Assistant Lecturer at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) and then moved on to become a Quality Engineer at Malaysia’s top aviation maintenance and repair (MRO) centre, Airod Sdn. Bhd.
In 1989, Bin Farikullah returned to England to work as a Project Engineer with AE Auto Parts, before moving to Denso Marston – Europe’s leading manufacturer of automotive components, as a Product Technical Manager.
He returned to Malaysia in 2007 joining DRB-Hicom, where he was seconded to Isuzu HICOM Malaysia Sdn. Bhd. (formerly known as Malaysian Truck & Bus Sdn. Bhd.) as Chief Operating Officer. In 2008 he became Head of Enterprise Quality & Improvements at DRB-Hicom and then Head of Vehicle Manufacturing Projects from April 2010.
According to the latest information provided by DRB-Hicom, Bin Farikullah is now a permanent British resident, living with his English wife of 27 years and their three children aged 26, 22 and 16.
From the information we’ve been able to gather, Bin Farikullah seems like a safe pair of hands. An engineer, family man and an executive who is more than competent in the manufacture and assembly of automotive vehicles and components. However, there is nothing in his past experience that would qualify him to lead a sports car company, nor create the kind of marketing and commercial deals necessary to build a strong international dealer network.
With Bin Farikullah being appointed to the role of COO, his role is clearly intended to oversee the operation of Group Lotus’ businesses (including its successful engineering and consulting firm) and either wait for a CEO to join, or be the caretaker until Lotus is eventually sold to another party.
Dato’ Sri Haji Mohd Khamil Jamil, Group Managing Director of DRB-HICOM Berhad and Chairman of Lotus said this evening that “…we remain committed to ensure the ongoing and future business operations of the Lotus Group as we take the Lotus Group to the next level to remain relevant in the global automotive industry”, so if that is indeed the case, then we await to hear who will take the top spot and lead the renaissance of Norfolk’s most famous brand.
DRB-Hicom has confirmed this evening that no further comment will be passed on their dismissal of Dany Bahar, however we expect a statement outlining Bin Farikullah’s immediate plans to re-build confidence with the company’s customers, suppliers and dealers.
We wish him well.