With the news of Tom Wallace’s retirement at the end of this month finally sinking in, attention is now shifting to who GM will name as a replacement. Several automotive sites, AutoWeek and InsideLine are confirming that Gene Stefanyshyn, GM’s global vehicle line executive for rear-wheel-drive vehicles, will add the Corvette chief engineer responsibility to his duties.
Gene Stefanyshyn (rhymes with definition) was behind GM’s global Epsilon initative that will eventually involve 1/6th of the cars GM build around the world – roughly 1.4 million units annually. More recently, his Rear-Wheel-Drive duties have led him to Australia where his team did much of the design and engineering work on the new Camaro, as well as the Holden Commodore.
The news of how Corvette and Stefanyshyn will work together is still cloudy and we hope GM issues an official statement soon. AutoWeek is claiming that the Corvette will be added to Stefanyshyn’s Rear-Wheel-Drive Vehicle Line while Inside Line is reporting that Wallace will be succeeded by Stefanyshyn as Corvette boss.
One thing we do need to clear up though. Tadge Juechter is officially Corvette’s Chief Engineer. About six months into Wallace’s tenure, he split the VLE and Chief Engineering positions.
Maybe in this time of downsizing it would make sense to combine the performance and rear-wheel-drive VLE’s. But having one person do the workload that 2 or 3 people use to do is never a great long-term solution. In July this year, Corvette Marketing Manager Gary Claudio moved to a position at Corvette Racing and his duties were added to the Corvette Product Manager, Harlan Charles.
We found this brief bio of Gene Stefanyshyn:
Gene Stefanyshyn started his career in a junkyard. He fondly recalls, “As a teenager, I spent days in an Oshawa, Ontario, salvage yard that belonged to a friend’s father. We’d bombed around in cars, tore things apart, and rebuilt engines for fun. That’s where I starting loving cars.”
Stefanyshyn says his high school dream was to become a tool and die maker. He took the math and science classes required for college admission and also the hands-on technical courses.
“When I was about to become an apprentice, an excellent machine shop teacher took me aside to tell my abilities exceeded those required to be a tool and die maker,” he says. “They encouraged me to try for more. That’s when it occurred to me that perhaps I could become an engineer.”
The 47-year old Canadian joined GM as a General Motors Institute engineering student in 1976. Upon graduation, he took up corporate finance studies, earnings an MBA in 1981. That led to a planning and competitive analysis assignment at GM of Canada while Rick Wagoner was the organization’s CFO. Subsequent assignments at Saab and Opel broadened Stefanyshyn’s horizons. Under Opel’s Peter Hanenberger, he helped lay a foundation for GM’s global architectures strategy. Before returning to North America in 1995, Stefanyshyn also created an engineering council for GM’s international operations, strategy for Asia Pacific business, and an engineering proposal for GM’s China joint venture partner.
Back in the U.S.A. Stefanyshyn’s assignment as GM’s mid-size VLE was to grab a range of under-performing models by the scruff. His global experience made him the perfect change agent for solving mid-size problems and integrating future models into GM’s global product portfolio.
We’ll have more on this as soon as GM makes an official statement.