Ex-GM exec Butler takes Ford tech job

Don Butler will lead Ford's in-vehicle communications unit.

DETROIT -- Don Butler, a longtime General Motors executive who had been leading Cadillac's overseas growth strategy before he left last August, is moving to Ford Motor Co. to head the unit in charge of in-vehicle communications technology.

Ford said last week that it had named Butler, 50, executive director of connected vehicles and services, effective immediately.

Butler, whose departure last year surprised many GM executives, was Cadillac's top marketing executive from March 2010 to April 2013, when he was promoted to a global business development post for the brand. He has years of vehicle technology experience, inside and outside GM.

In 2002, Butler was named vice president of OnStar commercial development. While at GM's telematics arm, he was responsible for the Virtual Advisor platform, a voice-activated system for accessing weather and other information services.

He left GM in 2009 to become the marketing vice president of Seattle telematics startup Inrix Inc. before returning the next year as marketing chief for Cadillac, where he helped introduce the Cadillac User Experience telematics system, known as CUE, in vehicles beginning in 2012.

Ford said it will expand its Sync AppLink, which was launched in 2010 and enables users to control smartphone apps with voice commands, to an additional 3.4 million vehicles this year.

You can reach Sean Gagnier at sgagnier@crain.com