Design chief Ed Welburn to retire after 44 years with GM | CAR Magazine

Design chief Ed Welburn to retire after 44 years with GM

Published: 08 April 2016

► GM design chief to retire
► Ed Welburn bows out
► Replaced by Michael Simcoe

It’s all change at the top of GM’s styling department. Ed Welburn, vice president of General Motors global design, is retiring after an impressive 44-year stint at America’s biggest car maker.

He will be succeeded by Australian Michael Simcoe, another internal appointment with a lengthy 33-year spell at GM. Latterly, he’s run GM’s international design team based in Australia and Korea.

Simcoe takes over on 1 May 2016. Incredibly, he’s only the seventh leader of GM’s design team. This is a company with a stable styling vision, it seems…

Highlights of Ed Welburn’s CV

The outgoing Welburn has hit retirement age at 65 and leaves after 11 years as crayon-in-chief, responsible for more than 2500 designers globally.

‘GM Design is among the most respected and sought-after organisations in the industry because of Ed’s leadership,’ said Mary Barra, GM chairman and CEO. ‘He nurtured a creative, inclusive and customer-focused culture among our designers that has strengthened our global brands.’

Welburn was obsessed with cars from a young age and has spoken in interviews of being influenced by cars such as the Cadillac Cyclone and late 50s Corvettes when he was growing up in Philadelphia.

He wrote to GM and asked them how to become a car designer; he won an internship in the styling studio in 1971 and never looked back. He worked on the Buick Riviera and Park Avenue and progressed to work at Oldsmobile, Saturn and other GM brands, working on influential concepts along the way.

Michael Simcoe: the new design overlord

Simcoe, below, joined GM in 1983 as a designer at Holden and rose to lead the GM Asia Pacific region, where he oversaw the Holden VT Commodore and WH Statesman/Caprice model ranges, the region’s flexible architecture strategy and the VE Commodore.

But he’s done spells in the US, too, and worked on cars including the GMC Terrain, Buick LaCrosse, Chevrolet Camaro and Equinox and Cadillac CTS. More recently, he was responsible for the Buick Avenir Concept, Chevrolet Colorado Xtreme and Trailblazer Premier show cars.

Michael Simcoe: the new chief of GM design

By Tim Pollard

Group digital editorial director, car news magnet, crafter of words