General Motors has hired a top designer away from Renault SA. Anne Asensio will direct General Motors designers in charge of Pontiac, Buick, Oldsmobile, GMC, Cadillac and Chevrolet. She will report to Wayne Cherry, GM's vice president of design, and will work at GM's design studio in Warren, Michigan.
Asensio, 37, has been Renault's director of design for medium-sized cars. She is known for her design of Renault's 1991 Scenic concept, which was produced in 1996 as the Megane Scenic. She joined Renault in 1987 after studying at the Center for Creative Studies in Detroit.
A source said Cherry recruited Asensio for nine months, and that GM is impressed with her creative and organizational qualities. Patrick Le Quement, Renault head of design, promoted Asensio to chief designer for Renault's small and lower-medium range vehicles in March 1997
Asensio will move to Detroit this fall to oversee GM's team of brand character design managers, all younger than 40, and lead future and concept vehicle design programs.
'There has been a massive re-energizing of the design staff,' said Ron Zarrella, president of GM North America. 'I think that's starting to come true with the concepts that we showed through the auto show season and our intention to build a number of those.'
Said Zarrella: 'It's not just Anne Asensio. If you walk through our studios today, you see a lot of people with orange hair and body piercing.'
Asensio, who met Cherry for the first time at last year's Frankfurt auto show, said GM won her over with its latest concept vehicles and by giving her the chance to work in the United States. 'It is the opportunity for me to have an international career,' she said.
Asensio's success at Renault, designing the strong-selling Megane Scenic minivan as well as the Clio and Twingo cars, makes her a potential successor to Cherry, who turns 63 in September.
But Asensio won't speculate on her future at GM. 'I think it will take time to understand what my mission and function will be at GM,' she said.