The Mind Behind GM’s Designs - Black Enterprise

The Mind Behind GM’s Designs

Ed Welburn, VP Global Design, General Motors

Greeted by the pleasant aroma of “new car smell” upon entering the New York Auto Show at the Jacob Javits Center, I had the pleasure of previewing hundreds of new auto designs and interesting spins on classics. Though I arrived at the General Motors Corp. showcase a little late (sshhh, don’t tell my editor) I was able to corner Ed Welburn, even if it was only for 7.5 seconds. He may not be a household name, but his designs sure are. Welburn, the vice president of global design for GM, is responsible for overseeing the execution of the 2010 Chevrolet Camaro, Chevrolet Malibu, Cadillac CTS, and Buick Enclave.

With dwindling sales, one would imagine sizable pressure on Welburn and his design team to up the ante with their new vehicles. So, does Welburn, who is among the Black Enterprise 100 Most Powerful Executives in Corporate America, feel the weight of the world (or at least GM) on his shoulders?

“We always felt what we do has to be innovative and that hasn’t changed. Do I feel pressure? From my design perspective, it is an important period; it’s also an exciting period. We do out best work when there is pressure.”

The company is also looking to expand its reach.

“We do need to do more to connect with a younger audience,” he said, explaining the concept behind the GMC Terrain and some of GM’s impending design plans. The Terrain will make its debut at the auto show, which runs April 10-19. “People like the Denali, but it’s big and expensive; the Terrain is a bit more affordable and from a size perspective it appeals to a younger audience.”

Take of look at some of the concepts that have been developed under Welburn.

 GMC Terrain, a smaller version of GMC's Denali, which Welburn says is more economical.
GMC's Yukon Denali was the inspiration behind the GMC Terrain, the compay's latest design, which Welburn says is smaller and costs less than the Denali. (Source: New York Auto Show)
2010 Chevorlet Camaro


 Chevrolet Malibu (Source:
Cadillac CTS (Source: New York Auto Show)
 Buick Enclave (Source: New York Auto Show)

Renita Burns is the editorial assistant at