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GM celebrates 85th birthday
General Motors, or GM, was the first automobile manufacturer to single out automotive design. This month, GM Design is celebrating their 85th birthday.
The 1,900 men and women in GM’s 10 global design centers are paying attention to the future, unified in their vision to entice consumers to fall in love with and admire vehicles as they do: art that moves you.
“Our global team is united around its passion for designing vehicles that make an emotional connection with customers,” said Ed Welburn, GM vice president, Global Design. “What was true 85 years ago is still true today: a designer’s role is to create a beautifully executed exterior with great proportions to draw you in and an interior environment that invites you into a relationship that develops and grows.”
The Design Centers are located in the United States, Germany, Korea, China, Australia, Brazil and India.
Under Welburn’s strategic eye, each of GM’s eight global passenger car brands is unique in appearance from one another as well as from other brands in the marketplace. Cadillac and Buick have each undergone a design change and Chevrolet has become a global brand with a globally recognized design.
Vehicle introductions that have helped propel GM’s recreation include the Chevrolet Camaro sports car, Malibu midsize sedan and Cruze compact car; the Cadillac CTS Coupe, GMC Terrain and the Buick Enclave and LaCrosse.
On June 23, 1927, the executive committee of General Motors approved the creation of a new department to “study the question of art and color combinations in General Motors products” and hired Harley Earl, a custom coach builder from Hollywood and the creator of the 1927 LaSalle, as its leader.
Among Earl’s numerous accomplishments are the development of concept cars; the yearly model changeover; the vehicle tailfins of the 1950s; the traveling Motorama auto shows and the development of the iconic Corvette. He is also credited with hiring the industry’s first female automotive designers.
Welburn and his global design team say their best work lies ahead. Tomorrow’s classic cars, he said, are on the sketchpads and computers of today’s designers.
GM Design is at the forefront of a continuing product reformation that will see 70 percent of the vehicle portfolio replaced within the next three years.
“Our global structure allows us to design more new vehicles and to dedicate more people using the latest technology and tools to bring them to market,” Welburn said. “The diversity of thought, experience, culture and perspective we foster here is unrivalled and it fuels our creative process. Though we have multiple design centers, our mission is clear – every new product we develop has to be a home run; each one has to be a great vehicle.”
Written by Ashanka Kumari