5 questions for retiring GM design chief Ed Welburn

  1. Welcome to GM Inside News Forum – General discussion forum for GM

    Welcome to GM Inside News Forum - a website dedicated to all things GM.

    You are currently viewing our forum as a guest, which gives you limited access to view most discussions and access our other features. By joining our community, at no cost, you will have access to post topics, communicate privately with other members (PM), respond to polls, upload content and access many other special features. Registration is free, fast and simple, Join GM Inside News Forum today!
     
Results 1 to 15 of 15

Thread: 5 questions for retiring GM design chief Ed Welburn

  1. #1
    doh
    doh is offline
    6.2 Liter LS9 Supercharged V8 doh's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    N.W.Ontario
    Posts
    7,840
    Thanks
    209
    Thanked 263 Times in 194 Posts

    5 questions for retiring GM design chief Ed Welburn

    http://www.ctvnews.ca/autos/5-questi...burn-1.2945343

    Tom Krisher and Dee-Ann Durbin, The Associated Press
    Published Tuesday, June 14, 2016 1:23PM EDT
    Last Updated Tuesday, June 14, 2016 4:07PM EDT


    WARREN, Mich. -- During a visit to the Philadelphia Auto Show, 9-year-old Ed Welburn was spellbound by the 1959 Cadillac Cyclone, with its big fins and rocket-like front cones. Then and there, he vowed to become a designer for General Motors Co.

    On June 30, he'll retire as GM's head of global design, a role that makes him one of the auto industry's most influential designers. He is also one of the industry's highest ranking African-American executives.

    Welburn -- the sixth design chief in GM's 108-year history -- reinvigorated design at the company. After GM shed excess brands like Pontiac in its 2009 bankruptcy, Welburn gave the remaining ones a fresh identity, turning out bold, chiseled Cadillacs and elegant Buick sedans. If you look closely, you might see his nod to the Cyclone's tail fins in the 2010 Cadillac SRX.

    Welburn, who joined GM in 1972, also is credited with pulling together GM's 10 global design studios -- which had operated independently -- and working more closely with engineers and marketers from the very beginning of a car's development.

    "I firmly believe that the best vehicles happen when you have great collaboration between designers and engineers. If you don't have it, you can forget about it," he said.

    Welburn still sketches every vehicle the company is working on, but doesn't share his drawings with his team -- they still need to come up with their own ideas. For a high-ranking official in a cutthroat industry, Welburn is surprisingly soft-spoken and courtly. He favours tailored suits and cufflinks in an era where most designers are clad in jeans.

    In his office overlooking GM's historic design dome -- where every car has gone for final approval since 1956 -- Welburn says he feels like his work at GM is complete. He's planning a two-week spin through Europe in his new Chevrolet Corvette, one of the vehicles he helped design.

    Here are Welburn's answers to questions from The Associated Press. They have been edited for length.

    Q: Is it important to you that you were the first African-American chief designer at a major automaker?

    A: It's nothing that I dwell on or celebrate. It didn't take me long to understand the first week that I was here, there was a responsibility I had. Everyone wanted to know what I could do. I was representing more than myself, right or wrong. There's a certain amount of pressure that goes with that.

    Q: What is your legacy at GM?

    A: I believe that we have created a culture in which design and engineering really work together. You have to have that in creating the fundamentals of the vehicles, the basic architecture. If you get great proportions, then it's much easier for a designer to style it. If you don't have that great proportion, then designers do some bad things to try to make up for shortcomings. I think a huge part of (my legacy) is the collaboration between design and its partners, as well as establishing this very powerful global design organization.

    Q: Have you been able to attract design talent to Detroit?

    A: The challenge is attracting digital sculptors. They're very talented and it's a very limited pool. They're sculpting in the computer. They can create just about anything, and every industry needs them, including the film industry. So we're competing with them as well as Silicon Valley. Years ago it was very difficult to get anyone from California to come here. You create the right environment and they see what we're doing. It's not easy, but it's a whole lot easier than it was 10 years ago.

    Q: Of everything you've designed or been in charge of here, what car is your favourite?

    A: There's so many projects I love for so many different reasons. The Corvette project, the latest C7. With this one, the average age of the customers was getting higher, sales were going down. We needed to make a course correction. It needs to be obvious it's a Corvette, but it needs to be obvious that it's a new Corvette. I decided since we had designers in studios around the world, to offer up to every designer to submit their idea. Ultimately the design came from the Corvette team, but it was fascinating to see how each one of those studios interpreted it differently.

  2. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to doh For This Useful Post:

    jzchev28 (06-15-2016),megeebee (06-15-2016)

  3. Remove Advertisements
    GM Inside News
    Advertisements
     

  4. #2
    4.6 Liter Northstar V8
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    New York
    Posts
    1,615
    Thanks
    92
    Thanked 978 Times in 536 Posts
    My Ride
    2001 Trans Am Black

    Re: 5 questions for retiring GM design chief Ed Welburn

    Q: With new ways of powering vehicles, will designs change?

    A: It depends on the propulsion system. If it's electric, I think it can give us more flexibility, the ability to put a greater focus on the interior space and comfort. Autonomous vehicles, as well, will do that. At the end of the day, a beautiful vehicle, no matter how it's propelled, will win.
    I figured I'd post #5 since it was missing from OP.
    2001 Pontiac Trans Am
    2016 Chevy SS Sedan
    2017 Chevy Traverse
    2019 Chevy Colorado

    Past:
    2016 Chevy Traverse
    2012 Buick Regal GS
    2010 Chevy Traverse
    2003 Cadillac Seville SLS
    2003 Chevy Blazer M5
    1989 Pontiac Firebird

  5. The Following User Says Thank You to NHRATA01 For This Useful Post:

    jzchev28 (06-15-2016)

  6. #3
    R2-D2 Astromech Droid Premium Member paul8488's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    Shanghai, China
    Posts
    23,621
    Thanks
    4,145
    Thanked 4,186 Times in 2,403 Posts
    My Ride
    1983 Opel Corsa TR coupe

    Re: 5 questions for retiring GM design chief Ed Welburn

    Q: Is it important to you that you were the first African-American chief designer at a major automaker?

    A: It's nothing that I dwell on or celebrate. It didn't take me long to understand the first week that I was here, there was a responsibility I had. Everyone wanted to know what I could do. I was representing more than myself, right or wrong. There's a certain amount of pressure that goes with that.
    What a great answer. Good for him.

    Q: What is your legacy at GM?

    A: I believe that we have created a culture in which design and engineering really work together. You have to have that in creating the fundamentals of the vehicles, the basic architecture. If you get great proportions, then it's much easier for a designer to style it. If you don't have that great proportion, then designers do some bad things to try to make up for shortcomings. I think a huge part of (my legacy) is the collaboration between design and its partners, as well as establishing this very powerful global design organization.
    Classy.

    Q: Of everything you've designed or been in charge of here, what car is your favourite?

    I decided since we had designers in studios around the world, to offer up to every designer to submit their idea. Ultimately the design came from the Corvette team, but it was fascinating to see how each one of those studios interpreted it differently.
    Wow, fascinating! I hadn't heard this before. What a fantastic way to get the global design studios excited and revved up. It was the right time for him to go, but that guy is a Grade A class act.
    Automotive stories and pictures for the rest of us:

    Hidden Content

  7. The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to paul8488 For This Useful Post:

    BlackGTP (06-15-2016),doh (06-15-2016),GM Insider News (06-15-2016)

  8. Remove Advertisements
    GM Inside News
    Advertisements
     

  9. #4
    Firebird Concept (the turbine one)
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Posts
    13,578
    Thanks
    542
    Thanked 870 Times in 624 Posts

    Re: 5 questions for retiring GM design chief Ed Welburn

    Question 6: we know you love your 1969 Camaro, but didn't you realize your designers were just "pleasing the Boss" with the 2010 Camaro, and doubled down with the 2016, leaving Chevrolet with the oldest-looking new car out there, instead of a new exciting design that moves the Camaro forward?

  10. #5
    3.0 Liter SIDI V6
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Posts
    501
    Thanks
    45
    Thanked 281 Times in 116 Posts

    Re: 5 questions for retiring GM design chief Ed Welburn

    I would have asked:

    Why are all GM cars getting so soft looking the last year or two?

    and

    Why are all GM designs being dictated by China?

    and

    Why do all GM's small cars look Korean now?
    2015 Chevy Camaro 1LE (1 of 147 (Silver Ice Metallic 1LE))
    2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo E
    2009 Dodge Challenger R/T (1 of 485 (Stone White R/T M6))
    2007 Pontiac Solstice GXP (1 of 1208 (est.) (Mysterious GXP M5))
    2004 Chevy Colorado ZQ8
    2002 Pontiac Trans Am WS6 Collector Edition (1 of 839 (t-top M6))
    1994 Pontiac Grand Prix SE B4U

  11. #6
    News Contributor BlackGTP's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Connecticut
    Posts
    15,559
    Thanks
    7,360
    Thanked 9,917 Times in 4,829 Posts
    My Ride
    2013 Cadillac ATS - Black

    Re: 5 questions for retiring GM design chief Ed Welburn

    I've been interesting in cars since the 1980's, I'd say the current GM lineup, under Ed's leadership, is the best looking its ever been and by a wide margin. Good job Ed!

  12. The Following 4 Users Say Thank You to BlackGTP For This Useful Post:

    ekseubert (06-15-2016),glssmann1 (06-15-2016),JimmyDiablo (06-15-2016),Live001 (06-15-2016)

  13. #7
    R2-D2 Astromech Droid Premium Member mbukukanyau's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Carlsbad Commiefornia
    Posts
    31,396
    Thanks
    5,758
    Thanked 8,146 Times in 3,954 Posts
    My Ride
    2013 Traverse | 2018 Fusion

    Re: 5 questions for retiring GM design chief Ed Welburn

    "Is it important to you that you were the first African-American chief designer at a major automaker?"
    What a stupid question this is!!

  14. #8
    R2-D2 Astromech Droid Premium Member paul8488's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    Shanghai, China
    Posts
    23,621
    Thanks
    4,145
    Thanked 4,186 Times in 2,403 Posts
    My Ride
    1983 Opel Corsa TR coupe

    Re: 5 questions for retiring GM design chief Ed Welburn

    Quote Originally Posted by mbukukanyau View Post
    What a stupid question this is!!
    I dunno, I think the question is fair, it could be something significant for him. At the same time, I like that his answer didn't focus on him being some sort of role model (which he very much is, mind you).
    Automotive stories and pictures for the rest of us:

    Hidden Content

  15. #9
    GMI Contributor
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Posts
    11,887
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 2,425 Times in 1,474 Posts

    Re: 5 questions for retiring GM design chief Ed Welburn

    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Show-Me View Post
    Question 6: we know you love your 1969 Camaro, but didn't you realize your designers were just "pleasing the Boss and the half million others who made it the best selling performance car 5 years running" with the 2010 Camaro, and doubled down with the 2016, leaving Chevrolet with the oldest-looking new car out there, instead of a new exciting design that moves the Camaro forward?
    Fixed it for you...






  16. #10
    3.0 Liter SIDI V6
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Posts
    501
    Thanks
    45
    Thanked 281 Times in 116 Posts

    Re: 5 questions for retiring GM design chief Ed Welburn

    Quote Originally Posted by BlackGTP View Post
    I'd say the current GM lineup, under Ed's leadership, is the best looking its ever been and by a wide margin. Good job Ed!
    Disagree.
    The late '50s to the very early '70s were GM's heyday for design.
    Led partly by Harley Earl and most definitely by Bill Mitchell, the best looking GM cars rolled out in those years.
    2015 Chevy Camaro 1LE (1 of 147 (Silver Ice Metallic 1LE))
    2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo E
    2009 Dodge Challenger R/T (1 of 485 (Stone White R/T M6))
    2007 Pontiac Solstice GXP (1 of 1208 (est.) (Mysterious GXP M5))
    2004 Chevy Colorado ZQ8
    2002 Pontiac Trans Am WS6 Collector Edition (1 of 839 (t-top M6))
    1994 Pontiac Grand Prix SE B4U

  17. The Following User Says Thank You to HuJass For This Useful Post:

    Dr.Show-Me (06-18-2016)

  18. #11
    3.6 Liter SIDI V6
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Posts
    1,094
    Thanks
    61
    Thanked 114 Times in 80 Posts

    Re: 5 questions for retiring GM design chief Ed Welburn

    I wish they asked which GM design was his least favorite during his time. IIRC, he is not that pleased with the first generation CTS. Wonder if that one would be his answer.

  19. #12
    doh
    doh is offline
    6.2 Liter LS9 Supercharged V8 doh's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    N.W.Ontario
    Posts
    7,840
    Thanks
    209
    Thanked 263 Times in 194 Posts

    Re: 5 questions for retiring GM design chief Ed Welburn

    Quote Originally Posted by HuJass View Post

    Why do all GM's small cars look Korean now?
    Because they are.

    GM back in 2002 when they Purchased Daewoo (a Failed Korean Carmaker) because they couldn't produce a profitable Compact their self's. Since then they have spread to Buick, People Movers, and such.

    I was working at a C.P.B.G. Dealership when GM announced it. The Dealership used to be a C.O. Dealership that amalgamated was with the P.B.G. Dealership in town in 2000. The C.O. sales side was Excited about the New Offerings. The ones from the P.B.G. Dealership were less than happy, having already been down the Daewoo road once before.

  20. #13
    Firebird Concept (the turbine one)
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Posts
    13,578
    Thanks
    542
    Thanked 870 Times in 624 Posts

    Re: 5 questions for retiring GM design chief Ed Welburn

    Quote Originally Posted by MonaroSS View Post
    Fixed it for you)
    Chevrolet blew a chance to advance the design of the Camaro by giving us 6 year old style, 10 years from the concept, and 47 years from the original, instead of advancing to something new, or perhaps related to the much more highly regarded 1970.5-1973 design that suggested Ferrari good looks and American muscle.
    The 2010 Camaro design has sold pretty well, but for the buyer who wants his new car to look new and exciting, the 2016 Camaro isn't it, and has not sold well.
    A lot of people suggest it hasn't sold well because of the dated design, others say gun-turret visibility, others limited rear space, or too expensive, but the fact is that the 2016 Camaro has not captured sales or the imagination.
    If it was so great, how many of those 500,000 have stepped "up" to a 2016?

  21. #14
    GMI Contributor
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Posts
    11,887
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 2,425 Times in 1,474 Posts

    Re: 5 questions for retiring GM design chief Ed Welburn

    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Show-Me View Post
    Chevrolet blew a chance to advance the design of the Camaro by giving us 6 year old style, 10 years from the concept, and 47 years from the original, instead of advancing to something new, or perhaps related to the much more highly regarded 1970.5-1973 design that suggested Ferrari good looks and American muscle.
    The 2010 Camaro design has sold pretty well, but for the buyer who wants his new car to look new and exciting, the 2016 Camaro isn't it, and has not sold well.
    A lot of people suggest it hasn't sold well because of the dated design, others say gun-turret visibility, others limited rear space, or too expensive, but the fact is that the 2016 Camaro has not captured sales or the imagination.
    If it was so great, how many of those 500,000 have stepped "up" to a 2016?
    I happen to agree with you on the Gen6, but you were throwing the Gen5 retro baby out with the bath water in that post. By any metric the retro Gen5 did just fine, especially compared to Mustang.

    Unfortunately the opportunity to build on that with a more forward looking design seems to have been wasted...

    I would have liked a tight little coupe with good vision and a liftback...







  22. #15
    2.8 Liter Turbocharged V6
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Nashville, TN
    Posts
    990
    Thanks
    376
    Thanked 334 Times in 220 Posts
    My Ride
    2015 Buick Regal 2.4

    Re: 5 questions for retiring GM design chief Ed Welburn

    Quote Originally Posted by MonaroSS View Post
    I would have liked a tight little coupe with good vision and a liftback...






    No way!

  23. Remove Advertisements
    GM Inside News
    Advertisements
     

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Powered by vBadvanced CMPS v4.1.2