While much of the attention focused on Ford Motor Company’s personnel news has been focused on CEO Alan Mulally’s announcement that he’s not leaving for Microsoft, FoMoCo has made another important decision, who is going to head one of Mulally’s pet projects, Ford’s in-vehicle communications technology. Automotive News reports that Don Butler, 50, the highly regarded longtime General Motors executive who most recently was in charge of Cadillac’s global growth strategy and before that headed the brand’s marketing, was named executive director of connected vehicles and services, effective immediately.
Butler’s departure from GM last year was a surprise both in and out of the company, and the appointment of a marketing person to head a technology driven unit might also seem surprising but Butler actually has a long technology resume.
In 2002, Butler was named vice president of commercial development for GM’s OnStar telematics unit. While at OnStar, he was responsible for the Virtual Advisor program, a voice-activated system for accessing weather and other information services. In 2009 he briefly left GM to run marketing for a Seattle telematics startup named Inrix Inc. before returning to the automaker the following year to take over marketing for Cadillac. Butler had a major role in the 2012 launch of the Cadillac User Experience telematics system, known as CUE.
Part of Butler’s job at Ford will be overseeing the expansion of the company’s Sync AppLink to an additional 3.4 million FoMoCo vehicles this year. Sync Applink lets users control smartphone apps with voice commands through the car’s infotainment system.