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GM design chief Ed Welburn is retiring this summer

GM design chief Ed Welburn is retiring this summer


To be replaced by Michael Simcoe, VP of Design for GM International

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GM announced Ed Welburn's retirement today, the man who has led the company's global design program since 2005. Welburn, 65, is a lifetime General Motors employee, having joined in 1972 after graduating from Howard University; before his current appointment, he ran the company's North American design team starting in 2003. He was also GM's first African American designer, helping set the stage for future stars of the industry like Fiat Chrysler's Ralph Gilles. Under Welburn's command are over 2,500 designers around the world.


One of Michael Simcoe's recent projects, the Buick Avenir concept. (GM)

Replacing Welburn is Michael Simcoe, an Australian designer who has been with the company since 1983. You may not be familiar with the name, but you probably know one or more of his projects: Simcoe was recently in charge of the Buick Avenir concept — a car intended to preview Buick's design direction — that debuted in last year's auto show circuit to rave reviews.

Welburn's time with GM isn't quite over yet: although he officially retires on July 1st, the company says that he will be working with the architect of its new Design Center facility on the campus of the GM Technical Center in Warren, Michigan. He'll also be working with the Smithsonian on an Edward T. Wellburn Collection of pieces documenting his career that will debut at the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture building later this year.