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Holden to come under expanded GM region

Changeover: GM International president Stefan Jacoby (left) is set to retire, handing the reins to Barry Engle (right) under an expanded international division that includes Australasia, Asia and South America.

GM shake-up groups Holden with South America under new global division

General Motors logo5 Oct 2017

By RON HAMMERTON

GM HOLDEN is set to come under the control of a new General Motors international division run out of Detroit by one-time Ford executive Barry Engle under restructured GM global operations from January 1.

The current GM International (GMI) regional management structure – covering Southeast Asia, India and Oceania, including Australia and New Zealand – will be combined with GM South America under the new arrangement.

GM executive vice president and president of GMI Stefan Jacoby, who presided over the decision to close Holden’s Australian manufacturing operations in 2013, will retire at the end of the year.

The shake up comes as GM exits Europe via the sale of Opel and Vauxhall to France’s Peugeot SA (PSA) and scaling back manufacturing operations in Asia, including a full exit from manufacturing in Australia where Holden’s Elizabeth car factory is set to close this month, ending almost 70 years of “Australia’s own car”.

Coincidentally or not, GMI – which excludes GM’s massive Chinese operations – and GM South America both lost money in 2016, despite Holden’s $152 million profit.

Mr Engle, who is currently GM executive vice president and president of GM South America, effectively brings GMI under his control in the new, expanded and as-yet-unnamed international division.

The American car executive, who will report to GM president Dan Ammann, came to GM in 2015 from California-based natural gas vehicle fuel systems supplier Agility Fuel Systems, where he was CEO.

He had previously done two stints at Ford, from 1992 to 1997 and 2000 to 2008, including one stint as president of Ford of Brazil.

In between his Ford and current GM appointments, Mr Engle also spent time as a Chrysler and Jeep dealer in Salt Lake City, as CEO of Norway electric car-maker Think and CEO of New Holland Agricultural Equipment in Italy.

Mr Engle’s Think experience is interesting in light of GM’s announcement this week that it plans to go all-electric, rolling out 20 new electric vehicles (EVs) by 2023, including two in the next 18 months. According to GM, these upcoming vehicles will leverage “learnings” from its development of the Chevrolet Bolt in the US.

GM product development executive vice president and former Holden managing director Mark Reuss said GM believed in an all-electric future.

“Although that future won't happen overnight, GM is committed to driving increased usage and acceptance of electric vehicles through no-compromise solutions that meet our customers' needs,” he said.

Mr Reuss said GM’s electrification plan required a two-pronged approach – battery electric and hydrogen fuel cell.

The GM products will include a fuel-cell-powered autonomous four-wheel steer truck dubbed SURUS – Silent Utility Rover Universal Superstructure – that will ride on a heavy-duty truck frame driven by two electric motors.

“With its capability and flexible architecture, SURUS could be used as a delivery vehicle, truck or even an ambulance, all emissions free,” GM said.

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