Australian Mike Simcoe to become GM’s global design chief on July 1

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Australian designer Michael Simcoe will take over from Ed Welburn as the vice president of General Motors Global Design on July 1.

In the process, Simcoe will become the seventh global design leader at GM, following in the footsteps of Harley Earl, Bill Mitchell, Irvin Rybicki, Chuck Jordan, Wayne Cherry, and the soon-to-depart Ed Welburn.

Simcoe, the first Australian to assume the mantle as GM’s global design chief, takes over from Ed Welburn, the company’s first African American head of design. The two designers will begin the official hand over process on May 1.

Above: 2006 VE Holden Commodore range.

Mike Simcoe joined Holden as a designer in 1983, and was promoted to senior designer in 1985 and chief designer in 1987. He was given a broader regional role when he was named design director at GM Asia Pacific in 1995.

In 2004 he was appointed as executive director North American Exterior Design. By 2011, Simcoe rose to the position of executive director GM International Design, before taking over as vice president for GM International Design in 2014.

On the local front, Simcoe personally oversaw the development of the Holden Monaro concept and the subsequent production coupe, as well as the VT Holden Commodore, WH Holden Statesman and Caprice, and the VE Holden Commodore and WM Holden Caprice.

Above: 2015 Buick Avenir concept.

As part of his ever growing responsibilities at GM, Simcoe reformed the company’s design studio in South Korea after GM purchased the car making operations of the bankrupt Daewoo group.

Cars developed under Simcoe’s aegis include the 2008 Cadillac CTS, 2010 Chevrolet Camaro, 2015 Chevrolet Bolt, 2015 Buick Avenir concept, 2016 Holden Spark, 2016 Chevrolet Bolt production EV, and the recent Chevrolet Colorado Xtreme and Trailblazer Premier concepts.

Above: Ed Welburn and the 2013 Chevrolet Camaro convertible.

Welburn’s retirement on July 1 will bring to an end a 43 career at GM, which began in 1973 at Buick’s exterior design studio. After working on Buick Riviera and Park Avenue, Welburn subsequently worked at Oldsmobile, Saturn, Opel, and GM’s advanced design centre, Welburn was named as the company’s lead designer for body-on-frame vehicles in 2002.

Just a year later, he was named as the sixth ever head of GM Design North America. In 2005, GM reorganised its design hierachy, and Welburn became the assume the role of vice president for GM Global Design.