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William Maley

GM News: Ed Welburn To Retire As GM's Chief Designer This Summer

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Ed Welburn, General Motors' Chief Designer and one of the key people around the recent revitalization of GM's design has announced he will retire from the company on July 1st. Taking his place as chief designer will be Michael Simcoe who currently heads GM International Design.

 

Welburn is GM's sixth design chief in GM's 108-year-history, following in the footsteps of people Harley Earl and Bill Mitchell. Welburn also holds the distinction of being the first African American to lead design for an automaker.

 

Welburn's story of becoming the head of GM design starts in the early sixties when he saw the Cadillac Cyclone Motorama concept at an auto show and writing to GM about careers in design. He would join GM as a design intern in 1971 before becoming an employee in Buick's design studio a couple years later.

 

Welburn would move to Oldsmobile in 1975 and become its chief designer in 1989, working on such projects as the Cutlass Supreme and Cutlass Ciera. In 1996, he became the chief designer for Saturn and then head of GM's advanced design center. Welburn would be named head of GM design in 2003. Two years later, a new position was created for him that would have him oversee GM's global design.

 

“GM Design is among the most respected and sought-after organizations in the industry because of Ed’s leadership. He nurtured a creative, inclusive and customer-focused culture among our designers that has strengthened our global brands,” said Mary Barra, GM chairman and CEO in a statement.

 

The list of vehicles Welburn played a role in is quite long. Some of the most recent vehicles include the Corvette Stingray, Chevrolet Volt, Buick Avista concept, Cadillac El Miraj, and 2016 Chevrolet Camaro. But one vehicle Welburn says is the most important to him was the Oldsmobile Aerotech, an experimental vehicle from the mid-eighties that would earn two world speed records.

 

"That was a big part of my development as a leader. Because for the first time, I wasn't just sketching. I was working with engineers, with marketing. I was working all day in the studios and all night in the wind tunnel. That was the project that I really learned design cannot be an island," Welburn told Automotive News earlier this month.

 

Michael Simcoe joined General Motors in 1983 as a designer for Holden. In 1995, Simcoe was named director of Design for GM Asia Pacific and then executive director of Asia Pacific Design in 2003. A year later, Simcoe would be named executive director of North American Exterior Design. Simcoe's achievements include leading the team behind the Avenir concept.

 

Source: General Motors

 

Press Release is on Page 2






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