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GM reshuffles top design cards

Malibu to Shanghai: North American exterior design chief Bryan Nesbitt, seen here unveiling the all-new Chevy Malibu in New York in April, will move to China as GM’s top designer in the region.

No change for Simcoe as GM swaps key US designer with Shanghai-based GMIO chief

General Motors logo26 May 2011

GENERAL Motors will shift one of its top designers in the US, Bryan Nesbitt, to Shanghai in August as vice-president of design for the auto giant’s international operations division, which covers all areas outside North America.

Mr Nesbitt’s current role of executive director of North American exterior design and global architecture strategy is the one Australian Mike Simcoe held before moving back to Melbourne late last year as executive director of design for General Motors International Operations (GMIO).

Holden has this week advised that Mr Simcoe’s role remains unchanged and that he will continue to focus on further developing GM’s design operations in the region, with a particular focus on Korea and Australia.

He will also continue to report directly to the company’s global design chief Ed Welburn.

“There’s no change to the organisational structure in GM Design – only the personnel,” Holden spokesman Jonathan Rose told GoAuto.

 center imageLeft: Executive director of design for General Motors’ International Operations Division, Mike Simcoe. Below: General Motors vice-president of global design, Ed Welburn.

“Bryan Nesbitt replaces Ken Parkinson who is currently vice-president of design for GMIO. Mike Simcoe continues to report to Ed Welburn. There’s no change to that at all.

“Mike has a specific emphasis on further developing GM’s operations in Korea and Australia and serves as the ‘brand champion’ for Holden.”

GM said in a statement that Mr Nesbitt, who recently took centre stage at the New York motor show with the unveiling of the all-new Chevrolet/Holden Malibu medium-sized sedan, will “serve as the lead voice for design in the GMIO region” and will also serve as the ‘brand champion’ for Wuling and Baojun.

Mr Parkinson, meanwhile, will return to the US and take on Mr Nesbitt’s responsibilities for US exterior design and global architecture. He, too, takes on a ‘brand champion’ role, in this case for Chevrolet.

Mr Welburn said the “alignment” will continue to position GM’s global design organisation “to provide the company with a compelling vision for future vehicle designs and the excellent execution of GM products”.

GM says the moves become effective August 1 and that its global design operations are otherwise unchanged.

Mr Nesbitt is a former general manager of the Cadillac brand and was previously design chief for Opel in Europe, replacing the Ford-bound Martin Smith in 2004 in a move that opened the door for Mr Simcoe – who had risen from Holden design director to regional design chief in 2003 (which placed him in charge of studios in South Korea and China) – to move to GM’s Warren design headquarters, near Detroit in Michigan.

Mr Simcoe’s initial role in the US was as executive director of design for body frame integral architectures, which placed him in charge of all car and car-based exterior design (including crossovers) developed by GM’s North American subsidiaries, including Chevrolet, Buick, Cadillac and the now-defunct Pontiac and Saturn brands.

Among a long list of GM models for which Mr Simcoe has led the design development are the Buick LaCrosse, GMC Terrain, Chevrolet Equinox and Cadillac CTS sedan, wagon and coupe.

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