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GM Restructures Global Engineering Organization, Splits it into Two Divisions

April 24, 2014

In the midst of the ignition switch recall investigation, General Motors Co. announced that it will restructure its Global Vehicle Engineering organization to better its cross-system integration. The organization was split into two divisions, with each division getting a new leader.

“A vehicle is a collection of 30,000 individual parts. Fully integrating those parts into cohesive systems with industry-leading quality and safety is key in this customer-driven business,” said Mark Ruess, executive vice president of Global Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain, in a statement.

Global Vehicle Engineering will be divided to create two new departments. These are Global Product Integrity and Global Vehicle Components and Subsystems.

According to GM, Global Product Integrity will “build on specific actions GM has taken in recent years to lead the industry in vehicle dynamics including ride and handling, steering and braking.” This division will basically help avoid problems like the ignition switch issue by collecting data that will allow the automaker to address quality issues quickly and appropriately.

Global Product Integrity will include Supplier Quality as well as the recently formed Global Vehicle Safety, which is led by Jeff Boyer.

Reuss admitted that the restructuring was indeed the result of the defective ignition switch recall.

Ken Morris, 47, will head Global Product Integrity. He is currently executive director of Global Chassis Engineering, a position that put him in charge of the design and execution of powertrain interface systems, fuel systems, suspensions, brakes, wheels, tires and steering. Morris was also previously executive director of Global Vehicle Performance, Proving Grounds and Test Labs. He joined GM in 1989 as a brake systems engineer.

Meanwhile, Ken Kelzer, 51, will head Global Vehicle Components and Subsystems. The current vice president of GM Europe Powertrain Engineering held a number of key positions throughout his career in the company. These include the following: executive chief engineer of full and midsize vehicles, global vehicle chief engineer for rear-wheel drive and performance vehicles, and global functional leader of chassis and accessories. Kelzer joined GM in 1982 as an intern.

While the restructuring has paved the way for two new departments and its leaders, it also resulted in GM losing its top engineering executive. GM has announced that John Calabrese, vice president of Global Vehicle Engineering, will retire.

Reuss insisted that the departure of Calabrese is not connected to the massive recall or the internal investigation currently underway. Calabrese, 55, will stay with GM until August to help with the transition.

Calabrese’s exit marks the most major executive change since the recall. He was GM’s top engineer for three years and the key lieutenant of Chief Executive Mary Barra. He has worked with the current CEO in many key roles in the last 15 years. Throughout his career, he assumed a number of Engineering and Purchasing leadership posts. A 33-year GM veteran, Calabrese joined the automaker in 1981 as an experimental engineer.

“Under John’s leadership, GM has developed industry-leading vehicles in practically every segment in which we compete,” said Reuss. “He raised the bar in Engineering and has us well-positioned for the future. We thank John for his many contributions – and I thank him for his friendship – and wish him the best.”

Photo credit: © General Motors CC BY-NC

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