GM Design boss Ed Welburn retiring July one

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Source:   —  April 07, 2016, at 8:58 PM

Michael Simcoe, most recently based in Australia and Korea as GM International Design VP, replaces Welburn, becoming just the seventh design boss in company history.

Michael Simcoe replaces him as vice president, GM Global Design

Ed Welburn, Common Motors’ Global Design vice president and all-around kind guy, is retiring July one after forty-four years with the company. Michael Simcoe, most recently based in Australia and Korea as GM International Design VP, replaces Welburn, becoming just the seventh design boss in company history. Simcoe begins transitioning to the U. S. May one. His replacement hasn’t been named yet.

Welburn, sixty-five, has led GM Design since two thousand three and globally since two thousand five, the first African-American from any automaker to do so. His legend is interesting: He dreamed of joining GM Design as a kid -- it’s the only work he wanted. In fact, when he was just eleven years old, growing up in Philadelphia, cars such as the Cadillac Cyclone concept and late ’50s Corvettes influenced him. He wrote GM a letter asking what it took to become a car designer. The company wrote back and after interning there in one thousand nine hundred seventy-first and graduating from Howard Univ’s College of Fine Arts, he signed on as an associate designer in ’72.

His career took off from there. Below Welburn, GM built a network of ten GM design centers in seven countries, overseeing more than two.500 designers in the U. S., Germany, S Korea, China, Australia, Brazil and India. Arguably among the most necessary things he did was introduce common procedures and programs throughout those ten studios -- he got them all paddling in the same direction, as the saying goes.

GM chairman and CEO Mary Barra said in a statement that thanks to Welburn, “GM Design is among the most respected and sought-after organizations in the industry,” adding he nurtured a creative and inclusive culture at GM Design.

Simcoe has been in Australia and Korea since two thousand fourteen, overseeing GM’s production and advanced studios in Korea, Australia and India. He joined GM in ’83 as a Holden designer in Australia, becoming director of design for GM Asia Pacific in one thousand nine hundred ninety-fifth. In two thousand-third, he was named Asia Pacific Design executive director. The following year he became N American Exterior Design executive director, responsible for the likes of the GMC Terrain, Buick LaCrosse, Chevrolet Camaro and Equinox, and Cadillac CTS. More recently he led the team responsible for the pretty Buick Avenir concept, the car we named our two thousand fifteen Detroit indicate Best Concept (“Phoenix, Rising,” Feb. 2, two thousand fifteen).

After Welburn turns the reins over to Simcoe and before he leaves in July, he’s working with the architects designing GM’s new design center, portion of a billion dollar investment in GM’s Warren, Michigan, tech center. Meanwhile, the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, opening this year, is housing the Edward T. Welburn Collection and its original drawings, photographs and artifacts documenting his career and his contributions to the African-American community.

Some of Welburn’s career highlights include:

Joined the Buick Exterior Studio, working on the Riviera and Park Avenue.

Moved to the Oldsmobile Exterior Studio, where he designed the Oldsmobile Aerotech speed-record car -- in one thousand nine hundred eighty-seventh it set two world’s records of more than two hundred fifty-seven mph.

Became Olds Studio chief designer, where several generations of Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme were born.

Began two-year assignment at Saturn, leading to a global assignment in Germany.

Became GM’s Advanced Design Middle executive director in Warren, MI.

Appointed executive director, body-on-frame architecture design.

Named GM Design N America VP, the sixth boss in GM history, replacing Wayne Cherry.

Promoted to GM Global Design VP, a newly created position.

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