Ed "Not A Car Guy" Whitacre Takes Control Of GM Global Product Planning

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
ed not a car guy whitacre takes control of gm global product planning

The executive shake-ups show no signs of stopping at GM, as Ed Whitacre ended the week with yet another re-shuffle. And this time Whitacre himself is the big winner. Automotive News [sub] reports that Whitacre has assumed control of GM’s global product planning, leaving former planning boss Tom Stephens with the more prosaic responsibility of overseeing new product development. Whitacre will be assisted by new VP for product planning Steve Carlisle, who, unlike Whitacre, actually has some experience in product planning. Carlisle replaces Jon Lauckner, who will head up GM’s new venture capital unit. But the big news here is that a man who only just learned the term “segment” about five and a half months ago, is now in charge of GM’s global product planning. Quick learner or egomaniac?

An interesting perspective into the planning and development reshuffle is revealed in a the internal announcement obtained by AN [sub].

Stephens said GM is also seeking to simplify its product-development process. So GM is reducing the number of reviews each vehicle gets by GM’s Global Product Development Council, which includes Stephens, his direct reports and top executives from the global region that will get the vehicle.

That committee will now only review each product four times during its development. That’s “about a third” fewer times than before, spokeswoman McBride said. The intention is to hold lower-tier executives accountable for decision-making, she said.

Devolving development decisions down the food chain is probably a good idea, especially when the upper tiers of management are being taken over by a mad Texan with no industry experience. And a look at some of the changes in engineering and vehicle development staff point to The General’s future direction.

GM’s former mid- and full-size sedan engineering boss Jim Federico has been taken off sedans, and will now serve as group vehicle line executive and chief engineer for global compact, small, mini and electric vehicles. Federico had led the international engineering team that developed the Epsilon II architecture out of Opel, and his reassignment seems to hint at a new emphasis on compact vehicles at GM.

Randy Schwarz will take over as chief engineer and group VLE for mid- and full-size cars, as well as RWD cars. Jim Dolot and Mark Moussa will work under him as chief engineer and VLE for mid- and full-size cars, while Bill Shaw will take over as global VLE for performance and RWD vehicles.

Jeff Luke will become group VLE and chief engineer for global trucks, vans and crossovers, while Jully Burau will become global chief engineer for full-sized trucks.

AN [sub] summarizes some of the other engineering changes:

• John Calabrese, to executive director of body, exterior, interior, safety and HVAC. Changes under him include:

1. Jim Hentschel, to executive director of body, exterior and dimensional engineering;

2. Jeff Boyer, to executive director of interior and safety;

3. Ray Bierzynski, to executive director of HVAC / powertrain cooling.

• Micky Bly adds responsibility for infotainment and OnStar engineering to his role as executive director for electrical systems, hybrids, electric vehicles and batteries. Changes under him are:

1. Tim Nixon, to executive director of infotainment and OnStar engineering; and

2. Kristen Siemen, to executive director for electrical systems.

• Ken Kelzer adds responsibility for induction controls and exhaust and the Canadian engineering center to his role as executive director of chassis.

And apparently the shake-ups will continue. GM’s internal announcement of these changes promises that “other organizational changes” would be announced in the future.

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2 of 19 comments
  • Russification Russification on Jun 08, 2010

    what stage of maturity do you think the auto market is in Dr Ed?

  • Stingray Stingray on Jun 14, 2010

    "The executive shake-ups show no signs of stopping at GM, as Ed Whitacre ended the week with yet another re-shuffle" He seems to be assembling the teams he needs to get the job done. So I would expect the tree to be shaken more. As a manager, you should try to assemble the best group of people possible. That's your team, the people you count on and the people that will get stuff done, on time and rightly. GM has a LOT of good people inside it. I have never ever held a doubt on this (the same is valid for Chrysler and Ford). Putting them in the right places and empowering them (I guess) will (hopefully) translate into better product. "And apparently the shake-ups will continue. GM’s internal announcement of these changes promises that “other organizational changes” would be announced in the future." http://www.hollow-hill.com/sabina/images/thx-captain-obvious.jpg

  • Azfelix From certain angles the bonnet appears oversized with respect to the rest of the car - like a skinny teenager wearing a bulky sweater nicked from her older sister's wardrobe.
  • Tassos This is way too god damned OLD, 21 years old to have all the necessary options you need TODAY. You need a 10 year old or less car. AND if you give us THIS POS, a 21 year old model, that is not even a LUXURY car, whoever pays $10k for a Golf, And I Do NOT care what anniversary it is (they are all UTTERLY INSIGNIFICANT) deserves to get this MOST UNRELIABLE AND COSTLY TO REPAIR OF ALL LOUSY ECONOBOXES< EVEN THE DOMESTICS AND THE KOREANS.
  • Tassos As you say, Toyota confirmed this on TUESDAY. Today is WEDNESDAY. Why is everything on TTAC held back one or more days before you tell us the NEWS when it is NO MORE THE NEWS?
  • MRF 95 T-Bird You can find a decent and far more stylish Audi TT or an S4 of a similar vintage for under $10k.
  • RHD "In all situations, the grip of the tires (225/40R18 front, 225/35R18 rear) brings with it road noise."Are the rear tires actually smaller than the fronts??!! Adding just a bit of sidewall would take care of the bumps and rough ride. I'm not a fan of BMWs, personally, but this is a very enjoyable car. There are times when driving a convertible is pure bliss, and with a bit of power it's fun as well. (And certainly a better drive than a gussied-up, overpriced German taxicab!)