General Motors today named Mark Reuss, its product development guru, as its new president. Meanwhile, its products could use a boost. Its fourth quarter US sales are slipping—down 2.7% from last year at the same time, the company also announced today.
Reuss will continue to lead GM’s Global Product Group and Cadillac and will also oversee GM’s quality organization. He replaces former GM President Dan Ammann, an M&A expert (ex- of Morgan Stanley) who left his GM post in late November 2018 to lead Cruise Automation, the autonomous vehicle company that GM acquired in 2016.
In a statement, GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra said that Reuss’s “global operational experience, deep product knowledge and strong leadership” are what GM needs “as we continue to strengthen our current business, take advantage of growth opportunities and further define the future of personal mobility.” She made note of his product development leadership during GM’s time of transition to electric and autonomous technology.
“I think Mark Reuss’ appointment makes perfect sense,” said Ian Beavis, an auto industry veteran who is chief strategy officer for AMCI Global, in an email. “He has done a great job with their product portfolio and is ready for his next challenge. His background makes him a perfect choice as they transition toward a mobility company.”
Carla Bailo, president and CEO for the Center for Automotive Research, said that Reuss was “a strong pick because he has a product background, and with sales slipping, the emphasis needs to be on the product.” She added that Barra needs a good day-to-day operations person to manage as she works on strategy, “making a road map from GM’s future.”
“Now that they’ve put him in charge of quality, they’ve got everything in one house,” she added. “It wraps it up all neatly.” Ammann was more suited to start the new automation business, she continued, and GM needs enhanced product knowledge in the president role.
Reuss added leadership of Cadillac and GM’s global portfolio planning to his resume in June 2018. He was charged with accelerating product development at Cadillac, with the goal of the brand introducing a new vehicle every six months.
According to the GM release, Reuss has also been “leading the transformation of the company’s global product development workforce and processes to drive world-class levels of engineering in advanced technologies and improve quality and speed to market. He is doubling the resources allocated to electric and autonomous vehicle programs in the next two years.”
In November, GM announced it was closing four U.S. plants and one in Canada and laying off 14,000 workers wordwide to align its global strategy with what it sees as the electric and autonomous vehicle future. The United Autoworkers Union is fighting the changes, saying that the company’s offer to relocate all union workers who want to move falls short. President Donald Trump and several U.S. senators lambasted GM for the move.
From 2013 to 2018, Reuss lead GM’s global product development, purchasing and supply chain. And from 2009 to 2013, he was president of he was president of GM North America, responsible for GM’s performance, manufacturing, portfolio and dealer network.
A mechanical engineer who started at GM as a student intern in 1983, Reese has also served as chief engineer of GM’s large luxury vehicles and manufacturing body shop tooling launches. He created and led the GM Performance Division in 2001, where he was responsible for the architectural engineering of GM’s racing vehicles, including the V-Series Cadillacs and SS Chevrolets.
He has a bachelor’s in engineering from Vanderbilt University and an MBA from Duke University.