A FORMER Holden boss has risen even higher through the ranks of global car-making giant General Motors, taking on responsibility for Cadillac as well as GM’s global portfolio planning.
Mark Reuss, an automotive engineer who steered Holden through its parent company’s 2008 bankruptcy – including talk that GM would sell off its Australian subsidiary – will take on some of the responsibilities formerly under the wing of global president Dan Ammann, Automotive News has reported.
This will free up Ammann to better concentrate on the car maker’s autonomous vehicles program, the report said. GM is yet to release a formal statement announcing the moves.
However, one of Reuss’s tasks will now be deciding what GM will do about the German-built, French-owned Holden ZB Commodore. Groupe PSA, the car’s new owner that also counts Citroen and Peugeot among its brands, has announced it will need to accelerate the shift of Opel products it bought from GM last year to its own platforms, giving the Commodore a shorter-than-expected lifespan that could be as little as five years.
He will also oversee the introduction of the next-generation Chevrolet Corvette to Australia, potentially including a mid-engined Zora that in its early stages was developed on a Holden Commodore ute-based mule.
Automotive News said Ammann would remain as GM's president, while Reuss' title would change from executive vice-president, global product development, to executive vice-president and president, global product group and Cadillac.
GM has announced ambitious plans to make a fully self-driving vehicle – one without a steering wheel and pedals – by the end of next year. It will be built on top of the Chevrolet Bolt battery-electric vehicle platform, and serve duty as a ride-hailing service, part of a move to offset what car makers believe will be a sharp decline in car ownership in favour of car sharing.
“General Motors is the first automaker to use mass-production methods for autonomous vehicles (AV) and is the only company to produce self-driving vehicles at scale,” it said. “Marking a significant milestone, the company announced that production versions of the Cruise AV will be built at General Motors’ Orion assembly plant in Michigan, with commercialisation in 2019.”
The US car maker has flagged plans to have 20 all-electric vehicles on the market by 2020, and has recently signed an agreement to share battery technology development with Japanese car-making giant Honda.
Its GM Cruse autonomous vehicle program has also recently attracted a $US2.25 billion ($A2.75 billion) investment with Softbank Vision, a global technology fund, which will take an almost 20 percent stake in the venture.
Reuss famously owned a 1950s-era Holden FC Special, bought as a restoration project during his time in Australia and shipped back to the US after Reuss’s recall to head up GM’s North American business cut his stay unexpectedly short. It now resides among GM's heritage collection in Detroit.
Reuss more recently famously crashed the most powerful Corvette ever to roll out of Chevrolet’s Bowling Green assembly plant, the ZR1, which was acting as a pace car for the Chevrolet-sponsored Indy 500 race. The car was leading out the 33-strong field on its warm-up lap when the Corvette hit a bump on the first corner and oversteered, hitting the wall hard.