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General Motors has recently lost one of its star engineers who had been largely responsible for the Chevrolet Volt, Opel and Vauxhall derivatives.
According to Automotive News Europe, Opel executive Frank Weber was accepted into BMW, and will answer directly to Klaus Draeger, BMW’s head of research and development. The external hiring from a competitor was unusual for BMW, which tends to promote from within.
This snapping up a GM engineer might help explain our recent observation that BMW seemed to be taking cues from the GM playbook, by saying it would consider a range-extended car in its panoply of gas-electric vehicles under development.
Weber was one largely credited with making the Volt a serial production car, and not just one more gee-wiz concept for GM. Until a couple years ago, he had been the global chief engineer for GM’s electric vehicle development. Late in 2009, he was sent to take over as head of corporate product planning for Opel and Vauxhall. His successor at Opel has not yet been announced.
Frank Weber, the engineer that is currently running Chevy’s Volt project is parting ways with General Motors. Weber, will be returning to his homeland of Germany, where he will take up a senior management roll at Opel.
GM is currently in the process of selling Opel to Canada’s Magna International and Opel is set to produce its own version of the Volt (called the Ampera) in 2011. No doubt Weber’s expertise on the matter will be extremely beneficial in doing so.
According to GM spokesman Dave Roman, the move was planned and Weber’s replacement has already been found. That man is Doug Parks, who has been at Opel since 2007 and was also involved in the creation of car’s like the Opel Astra and Chevy Cruze.
The is the second big staffing change on the Volt project in the past few weeks with Bob Kruse, GM’s top engineer for hybrids and electric cars, recently having left the company to start his own consulting firm.
[Source: Automotive News]