Ed Welburn To Retire as GM Design Head, Michael Simcoe Tapped to Replace Him

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
ed welburn to retire as gm design head michael simcoe tapped to replace him

After realizing the American Dream as head of General Motors’ design division, Ed Welburn announced today that he’ll retire on July 1 after being with the automaker for 44 years.

Welburn, 65, headed GM Design since 2003 and Global Design since 2004, leading the teams who crafted the models that led the automaker out of bankruptcy — among them, the Buick LaCrosse and Enclave, Chevrolet Camaro and Equinox, and Cadillac CTS.

He’ll be replaced by Michael Simcoe, a 33-year veteran of GM Design and vice president of GM International Design.

As a child, Welburn was bit by the design bug after seeing the Cadillac Cyclone concept car at the 1958 Philadelphia Auto Show. After an education and apprenticeship, he started in GM’s Buick Exterior Studio in 1973.

During his stint as design head, Welburn oversaw the creation of 10 worldwide GM design centers, employing a total of 2,500 designers.

As the first African-American to hold the post (for any automaker), he involved himself in community outreach, launching the “You Make a Difference” design mentoring program in Detroit’s public schools, and a number of GM Foundation educational grants.

GM CEO Mary Barra credited Welburn for instilling a “creative, inclusive and customer-focused culture among our designers,” while Mark Reuss, executive vice president of global project development, credited his “ability to take diverse ideas and mold them into great products that surprise and delight our customers.”

The design concepts rolled out under his guidance were numerous, but the last one he oversaw might be the most significant. The Buick Avenir concept vehicle of 2015 didn’t make it to production (few concepts do), but the design language was adopted by the Buick brand, as well as its signature grille.

If you started your career by molding clay for future Buicks, it must feel good to end it on a high note with the same brand.

[Image: Ed Welburn, Steve Fecht/Buick]

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  • Jeff S Jeff S on Apr 09, 2016

    GM should have built his 2 door concept and called it the Riviera. There is nothing wrong with Welburn's designs. GM's designs have gotten much better in the last few years. Mr.Welburn's design influence will be missed. Lincoln could use these designs. The four door design in the second picture would make a great looking Continental.

  • Zipper69 Zipper69 on Apr 10, 2016

    So this is the joker that gave us the pouting guppy look on Buick? No wonder he stole away in shame....

  • Alan The Prado shouldn't have the Landcruiser name attached. It isn't a Landcruiser as much as a Tacoma or 4 Runner or a FJ Cruiser. Toyota have used the Landcruiser name as a marketing exercise for years. In Australia the RAV4 even had Landcruiser attached years ago! The Toyota Landcruiser is the Landcruiser, not a tarted up Tacoma wagon.Here a GX Prado cost about $61k before on roads, this is about $41k USD. This is a 2.8 diesel 4x4 with all the off road tricky stuff, plus AC, power windows, etc. I'm wondering if Toyota will perform the Nissan Armada treatment on it and debase the Prado. The Patrol here is actually as capable and possibly more capable than the Landcruiser off road (according to some reviews). The Armada was 'muricanised and the off road ability was reduced a lot. Who ever heard of a 2 wheel drive Patrol.Does the US need the Prado? Why not. Another option to choose from built by Toyota that is overpriced and uses old tech.My sister had a Prado Grande, I didn't think much of it. It was narrow inside and not that comfortable. Her Grand Cherokee was more comfortable and now her Toureg is even more comfortable, but you can still feel the road in the seat of your pants and ears.
  • Jeffrey No tis vehicle doen't need to come to America. The market if flooded in this segment what we need are fun affordable vehicles.
  • Nrd515 I don't really see the point of annual inspections, especially when the car is under 3 years (warranty) old. Inspections should be safety related, ONLY, none of the nonsensical CA ARB rules that end up being something like, "Your air intake doesn't have an ARB sticker on it, so you have to remove it and buy one just like it that does have the ARB sticker on it!". If the car or whatever isn't puking smoke out of it, and it doesn't make your eyes water, like an old Chevy Bel-Air I was behind on Wed did, it's fine. I was stuck in traffic behind that old car, and wow, the gasoline smell was super potent. It was in nice shape, but man, it was choking me. I was amused by the 80 something old guy driving it, he even had a hat with a feather in it, THE sign of someone you don't want to be driving anywhere near you.
  • Lou_BC "15mpg EPA" The 2023 ZR2 Colorado is supposed to be 16 mpg
  • ToolGuy "The more aerodynamic, organic shape of the Mark VIII meant ride height was slightly lower than before at 53.6 inches, over 54.2” for the Mark VII."• I am not sure that ride height means what you think it means.Elaboration: There is some possible disagreement about what "ride height" refers to. Some say ground clearance, some say H point (without calling it that), some say something else. But none of those people would use a number of over 4 feet for a stock Mark anything.Then you go on to use it correctly ("A notable advancement in the Mark VIII’s suspension was programming to lower the ride height slightly at high speeds, which assisted fuel economy via improved aerodynamics.") so what do I know. Plus, I ended a sentence with a preposition. 🙂