GM revamps vehicle line operations to streamline product development
Move said to eliminate layer of management
GM said Doug Parks has been appointed to the newly created position of vice president, Product Programs.
DETROIT -- General Motors is restructuring its product-development enterprise so that a single engineer takes full responsibility for each of GM's vehicle programs, a move aimed at increasing accountability and speeding the introduction of new cars and trucks.
For years, a team approach has guided GM's product development, with oversight from a vehicle line executive, vehicle line director and a vehicle chief engineer.
Under the new structure, which takes effect Aug. 1, executive chief engineers "will be totally responsible for their respective groups of vehicles from inception through production," GM said in a statement.
Those 12 engineers all will report to GM engineer Doug Parks, who GM named to the newly created post of vice president of product programs. Since March, Parks was group vehicle line executive for electric cars. He had a lead role in preparing the Chevrolet Volt's plug-in hybrid system ahead of the car's December 2010 launch.
The moves "remove a layer of management" and about 20 executive positions globally, GM said.
A spokesman said the executives in those positions will be reassigned and that there won't be any layoffs associated with the restructuring.
"We're not employing fewer engineers to do the projects -- that's still pretty much the same number," the spokesman said. "It's a high-level administrative layer that's being taken out."
"The realignment reduces complexity and drives single-point accountability for the execution of our vehicle programs," Mary Barra, GM's senior vice president of global product development, said in the statement.
The restructuring is the latest step in CEO Dan Akerson's strategy to reduce GM's complexity -- an effort he believes will lead to faster product development and ultimately higher profit margins.
This spring, for example, GM moved to streamline its marketing enterprise by consolidating its media-buying duties and creative work on the Chevrolet account from more than 100 outside agencies to just two.
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