With nearly two out of every three General Motors products now being sold outside of North America, the maker is stepping up its efforts to keep momentum building, especially in China and other emerging markets – and that’s led to some key personnel changes that include the hiring of an industry veteran to run GM International Operations.
Stefan Jacoby, who most recently served as CEO of Volvo Cars after the Swedish maker was purchased by China’s Geely, will come aboard as Executive Vice President Consolidated International Operations for GM, a fittingly long title considering he will oversee operations in over 100 countries in the maker’s Asia/Pacific, European, Middle East and African regions.
Meanwhile, Tim Lee, who had been running GM IO for four years will become chairman of GM China, a position that will put him in charge of a fast-growing universe of 12 join ventures, two foreign operations, a major new R&D center and more than 55,000 employees. GM is currently battling it out in China for the number one sales slot against Volkswagen AG where, coincidentally, Jacoby spent a chunk of his career.
“The GM team has plans to win in every market, and I’m eager to contribute,” Jacoby said.
The industry veteran has worked for a number of makers over the years, including Mitsubishi and VW. He served as CEO of its U.S. operations before joining Volvo in 2010, laying out an ambitious growth strategy for the German maker that included the opening of VW’s assembly plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Jacoby outlined a similarly aggressive strategy for Volvo following its purchase from Ford Motor Co. but he suddenly left the maker last year, with initial indications it might be due to health problems. But despite the initial statement that his departure was “amicable,” insiders have confirmed Jacoby clashed with Geely founder and Chairman Li Shufu.
For his part, GM Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson had nothing but praise for his newest international executive, declaring “Stefan is a great addition to an already strong team,” and adding, “We expect him to continue building on his record of delivering results in markets around the world.”
(GM takes sales lead in China. Click Here for more on the story.)
GM’s various international operations have been in a bit of turmoil in recent months. Among the many recent departures, Susan Docherty, who led Chevrolet and Cadillac efforts in Europe, tendered her resignation in June.
The two brands have been struggling in that market, though so have most makers, the European automotive market sinking to its lowest level in two decades. But other IO regions have been faring significantly better in recent months. Jacoby will be watched closely to see if he can keep that momentum going.
The German-born executives predecessor will now focus on China which is not only the world’s biggest national automotive market but also General Motors largest single market as of this year. GM was one of the first manufacturers to enter China and has been battling VW for supremacy. But while it recently nudged past its rival, there are disturbing signs on the horizon. China’s economy, on the whole, has been slowing down, but government regulators are also eying the auto industry carefully as they take steps to deal with that booming nations worsening problems with both air pollution and traffic congestion.
(Chinese government may move to restrict car sales in some cities. Click Here for details.)
“GM leads in the U.S. and China, the two most important auto markets in the world,” GM Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson said in a statement. “We are also in the midst of the most aggressive product rollout in our history. Tim is critical to building on our success in China and to ensuring flawless vehicle launches around the globe.”
While Lee will have plenty of work to handle in his new China role he will continue to serve as president of GM’s global manufacturing operations.
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