Currently reading: How ex-Nissan sports car boss can help Caterham grow
Ex-Nismo director can use global OEM connections to electrify and expand Caterham

Bob Laishley, an engineer by training, joined Caterham after a 25-year career at Nissan just as the 2020 Covid outbreak began.

His first job was to be the company’s part-time chief strategy officer, tasked with finding ways to boost production because it was plain that the company could sell more cars than its usual 500 a year. 

In the first months of 2021, the company was bought by VT Holdings, a large Japanese trading group that was, among other things, the Seven’s Japanese importer. Within a couple of months, Caterham’s CEO of 10 years, Graham Macdonald, decided to retire and Laishley, who had been enjoying part-time working but was known through his Nissan connections to VT Holdings CEO Kazuho Takahashi, was persuaded to take on the CEO’s role. 

Bob laishley

Laishley says he was as surprised as anyone at his elevation. He had moved to Dubai with a view to working in the UK a few days a month, but the prospect of running the little sports car company he describes as “traditional and well respected, with a brand value that’s massively under-leveraged” changed his ideas. He has since moved back to the UK to run the company full time “for as long as I enjoy it”. 

Laishley’s key former job – he was one of Nissan’s global project directors, in charge of the Nismo performance car range and of promoting Nissan’s business relationships with other OEMs – has proved invaluable to the Caterham task. He knows enthusiast car buyers well and also has contacts in big companies money couldn’t buy. 

“I’m used to being on good terms with people in OEMs,” he said, “because they know me. Normally, it’s not so easy for a little company like ours to say to a giant: please tell me your product roadmap for the next 10 years. But we’ve had some surprising help.”

Steve Cropley

Steve Cropley Autocar
Title: Editor-in-chief

Steve Cropley is the oldest of Autocar’s editorial team, or the most experienced if you want to be polite about it. He joined over 30 years ago, and has driven many cars and interviewed many people in half a century in the business. 

Cropley, who regards himself as the magazine’s “long stop”, has seen many changes since Autocar was a print-only affair, but claims that in such a fast moving environment he has little appetite for looking back. 

He has been surprised and delighted by the generous reception afforded the My Week In Cars podcast he makes with long suffering colleague Matt Prior, and calls it the most enjoyable part of his working week.

Join the debate

Add a comment…
NorinieJanian 2 November 2022

I'm writing this article to thank Dr. Kwabena, the powerful spell caster that helped me recently to bring back my ex lover that left me for another woman for no reason for the past 8 years. After seeing a post on the internet by Tracy saying how she was helped by Dr. Kwabena, I also decided to contact him for help because I had no choice. All I wanted was for me to get my lover back and happiness. To my greatest surprise, my lover came home on his knees that I should find a place in my heart to forgive him, I was truly astonished and shocked when my lover knelt down begging for forgiveness and for me to accept him back. I am really short of expressions, and I don't know how much to convey my appreciation to you Dr. Kwabena. You are a God sent to restore a broken relationship, And now I'm a joyful woman. his contact details ; dr .kwabenasorcerer @gmail. com