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.
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]
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.
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