Vice President, Global Design
About GM: Edward T. Welburn, Jr.
Ed Welburn was named Vice President of GM Design North America on October 1, 2003, becoming just the sixth Design leader in GM history. On March 1, 2005, Welburn was named to the newly created position of GM vice president, Global Design, and the first to lead all of the company’s Global Design Centers. Welburn also serves on the company’s Executive Operations Committee.
As vice president of Global Design, Welburn has created a network of ten Design Centers in seven countries around the world. He and his team of over 2,000 men and women are responsible for the design development of every GM concept and production car and truck globally. The Design Centers are located in the United States, Germany, Korea, China, Australia, Brazil and India.
Welburn began his General Motors career in 1972 as an associate designer assigned to the Advanced Design Studios. In 1973, Welburn joined the Buick Exterior Studio where he worked on the Buick Riviera and Park Avenue. In 1975, he was assigned to the Oldsmobile Exterior Studio. There he led the development of a number of successful production vehicles and designed the Oldsmobile Aerotech speed-record vehicle, which set two world's records of more than 257 miles per hour in 1987.
He was named chief designer of the Oldsmobile Studio in 1989. Projects there included the Oldsmobile Antares concept car and the Oldsmobile Intrigue, both of which received Auto Week magazine awards at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
In 1996, Welburn began a two-year assignment at Saturn, which led to an overseas assignment in Germany where he worked on future global design programs.
Welburn was named director of GM's Advanced Design in Warren, Michigan, in 1998. His team was responsible for the development of new and innovative vehicles for all GM brands. Welburn's team also led the development of all GM concept vehicles, including a new generation of hydrogen fuel cell concepts.
Welburn was appointed executive director of design, body-on-frame architectures, in January of 2002. In this position, he was responsible for the three truck studios at the GM Design Center in Warren. Projects included the HUMMER H3, Cadillac Escalade and the latest generation of full-size trucks that reached the market in 2006.
Welburn was born on December 14, 1950. His passion for car design began at an early age in his hometown of Philadelphia, and was influenced by such vehicles as the Cadillac Cyclone concept and the Chevrolet Corvettes of the late 1950s. At the age of eleven, he wrote a letter to GM Design saying he wanted to be a car designer. The company wrote back, and recommended the steps he needed to take to achieve his dream.
He received a bachelor's degree in 1972 from the College of Fine Arts at Howard University in Washington, D.C., where he studied sculpture and product design.
On January 25, 2009, Welburn received the Distinguished Service Citation from the Automotive Hall of Fame, which recognizes an individual's significant contribution to the auto industry.
In June of 2012, Welburn received the inaugural “Nicola Bulgari Award” for outstanding contributions to preserving America’s automotive heritage through education, restoration or collecting classic cars in conjunction with the grand opening of LeMay – America’s Car Museum in Tacoma, Washington.
Welburn was recognized in July of 2012 by the Detroit Historical Society’s Black Historic Sites Commission for being the first African American to lead a global automotive Design organization. In addition, Welburn was honored at the Trumpet Awards (‘Corporate Award’) in January 2013.