By on July 28, 2012

Well into the first decade of the new millennium, Changchun, China, was Volkswagen’s Siberia. When someone was transferred to the frigid city in Northern China, the others inevitably asked: “What did you do?”

It looks like Opel is quickly becoming GM’s Siberia, and people rather desert than going. On June 18, Dave Lyon was promoted vice president of design for GM Europe. Next Wednesday, he was supposed to start his job as head of GM’s design studio in Germany. Instead of going, Lyon left the company.

Lyon, says the Detroit Free Press, was “one of General Motors’ highest-ranking designers.” His work “at GM included the widely praised interior of the new 2013 Cadillac XTS luxury sedan, making Buick’s transition to a modern global design theme consistent with GM’s European Opel brand, and small crossovers to broaden GMC’s lineup. He also played a significant role in designing the interior of the Chevrolet Volt.”

It is not clear why Lyon left, but, says the Freep, his “departure is the latest blow to Opel/Vauxhall, which have endured management and labor turmoil as Europe’s economy totters.”

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20 Comments on “Top Designer To GM: “Hell, No, I Won’t Go.”...”

  • avatar

    “…people rather desert than going.” ? Yikes.

  • avatar

    The problem with GM is not the cars or the government, it’s their management.

    • 0 avatar

      100% Agree. GM has done dozens of business studies of its competitors, even after bankruptcy. Why does GM fail to properly compete? Poor managment is that what the conclusion always points to. Do they fix it? Doesn’t seem like it. “We’re so big, it takes a long time, … blah, blah, blah…(insert paycheck here).” Dave Lyon found out many weeks ago that he’d be sent to a dying planet. You can be sure he’s not dumb, and he made good alternative plans. Good for him.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Did he go to another car company or did he rationalize be unemployed now or be unemployed later? It’s not good when one of “best boys” leaves the fold.

  • avatar

    I know nothing more about this situation than what I just read here, but it seems to me that your headline and conclusion are both a huge leap of assumptions and coincidence. So a high-ranking designer leaves GM… There are other reasons this could have happened other than not wanting to work for Opel/GM Europe.

    I resigned a job recently rather than relocate. In my case the core limitation was my wife’s terminal illness and proximity to her family. Perhaps he just got a better offer from someone else (though a cushy GM overseas assignment with all expenses paid like they used to give would seem like a pretty sweet gig). Perhaps he has a personal or Family limitation? Perhaps his immediate boss is a jerk rather than any systemic issue with GM Europe? Perhaps they caught him schtupping his administrative assistant (a completely fabricated hypothesis here but a true situation for a former colleague of mine in another industry). In any case, without more information these all seem as likely a conclusion as yours.

    • 0 avatar

      Very sorry to hear about that… :-(

    • 0 avatar

      Well, he did accept the job 5 weeks ago, so he had time before that to turn down the promotion.

      If he left for personal reasons, there’d be no shame in saying so, and that GM wished him well.

      I think Bertel’s right; Mr. Lyon smelled a rat and bailing seemed like the best option. The union should consider this story before pressing more demands.

      • 0 avatar

        Isn’t “personal reasons” becoming something of a PR-no-go due to it being used to cover up other issues, even when those other issues are widely known. Like a sleazy politician getting caught banging men in public restrooms while promoting a “pro-family stance” publicly, he then resigns for “personal reasons”.

    • 0 avatar

      @stevelovescars: All good points. There’s a lot of this type of post on this blog. No hard evidence, just lots of speculation and innuendo. You can imply this and infer that, but this post is just an opportunity to keep on piling on GM. We rarely hear about any other company’s internal moves as much as we do GM. And rarely are they made out to be bad news when the original post is nearly informationless as the Freep article was.

      The TTAC Pavlovian dog bell has rung, and the hounds are salivating.

      click, click, click doggies…

  • avatar

    Unless I’m mistaken, 2+2 still equals 4.

    This guy will be wanted by a lot of people. The cream always rises to the top and other companies notice when it’s doing so.

    • 0 avatar

      Not in reference to the story about Lyon, but a comment on the common phrase in your post:

      It’s important to keep in mind that dry turds rise in milk too. History is littered with examples of people failing upwards, so no, those who appear to have it all figured out sometimes don’t.

      The kind of thing you gain from a country upbringing…

    • 0 avatar

      “The cream always rises to the top and other companies notice when it’s doing so.”

      That assumes that being higher in the organization is a good thing. In my previous job, management was far easier to replace than the skilled workers — and so the skilled workers should have been making more than the managers. It used to be that higher in the organization was “better” when there was a lot of menial work that needed to be done, but that’s less and less the case as we use more and more automation and technology to get work done.

      If we’re This sounds to me like a case of a guy who likes designing cars and did such a good job that he got promoted out of it. After a couple of weeks of executive-level politicking, he’s had enough and wants to get back to designing cars.

      That’s simple enough. I’ve seen it happen before. And if he’s really as good at designing cars as this article says is, he might even have a job-offer to design cars that pays better than being an Opel executive.

      Of course, responding to article this vague always ends up telling you more about the responder than the actual situation — and my comment is no exception!

      • 0 avatar

        Both the above rebuttals are correct. So is Geozinger. My response to the story re: cream rising to the top. I was raised in farm country and am aware that milk can contain just what you said. I am also retired from the Navy and was a teacher later. Cream rising to the top normally refers to superior work gaining promotions. Sometimes in accordance with the Peter principle and other times in a better way.

        We don’t have a clue why he wanted to leave but I think other orgs will have noticed his skills (whether professional or butt kissing) that got him the promotions. They will, or have, come a calling.

        He doesn’t want to stay with GM for whatever reasons. 2+2=4

  • avatar

    Think about it, the German Labor Unions Government and people have done just about every thing they can do to make GM feel unwanted. Who would want to be around these people anymore.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t know how you could blame the German government (which cannot provide direct aid anyway under EU regulations) or the German people. Even the Opel unions are working under the same contracts as at other German auto manufacturers, which is how the system works in Germany, there is no bias against Opel.

      No, this decline is GM’s own doing (and the same goes for the current situation of Fiat, Ford Europe and PSA).

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    Perhaps he doesn´t like sauerkraut and wurst?

  • avatar

    Perhaps Dave didn’t want to preside over the closing of Opel and find a way to git rid of himself as well as a division. he may not have had the golden parachute Rabid Rick and the boys had so best to move on.

  • avatar

    So this guy is responsible for the XTS and turning Buick into Opel Jr.?

    Good riddance.

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