General Motors Shakes Up Design Team: Here's Why

By Jacob Brown | June 19, 2012
General Motors just announced that it's moving around nine of its biggest-name, most talented designers. As of August 1, several of them will have to be on the other side of the world from where they are to work, for brands which they may know nothing about right now. We'll spare you most of the names and details of their lives, but there are several reasons why the moves are important to you, according to GM:
  • The moves are designed to help drive stronger messages about a brand's respective portfolio.
  • It'll allow the designers of respective cars to live closer to the markets in which they serve.
  • It'll help provide a greater ability for the brands to share resources and parts.
  • And lastly, GM says the moves will help the designers foster a greater level of creativity and a clear, single purpose for each member.
The biggest moves you need to be concerned with are Mark Adams, the current design head of GM Europe, will be relocating to Warren, Michigan, to head up Buick and Cadillac's global design. Also, David Lyon, the head of North American interior design and one of the biggest design consultants for Buick and GMC will be moving to Russelheim, Germany, to help GM Europe grow Opel and Vauxhall.
Regarding Adams, many of his designs have been implemented worldwide, including the Opel Insignia's, which ended up becoming our Buick Regal. By bringing a "world" designer to Buick and Cadillac, GM is staking its claim in growing the Buick and Cadillac brands, likely to make cars that are both digestible in Cadillac and Buick's home markets as well as in places where there's still plenty of room for growth like Europe and China. Adding that GM sees the moves as a way to help brands better share parts, it's likely cost consolidation will come out of this, too. Regarding Lyon, Buick and GMC have both been able to take common, relatively pedestrian platforms and inject luxury and style into them. Two key examples are the Buick Verano, which commands a premium over the Chevrolet Cruze on which it's based and the Denali premium-level SUVs from GMC. With Chevrolet's insurgence in Europe as a budget brand, it leaves Opel and Vauxhall room to grow upscale along the lines of what Volkswagen has been able to do. As GM Europe has struggled of late, adding more premium flare to help GM Europe raise its margins and stop its bleeding will only help the brand. Design goes a long way towards accomplishing that. General Motors has 10 design centers around the world, four of which are "advanced" design centers. The moves put most of the hotshots in the advanced centers, giving them greater accessibility to products nearing production to ensure they'll turn out without any major hiccups. Source: GM