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GM FastLane:A Report From South Africa

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Ed Welburn

By Ed Welburn

GM Vice President, Global Design

Africa. Just being here is so exciting. I’m here, for the first time, to launch a new production line of the H3, to be built in South Africa for export around the world. And I’m surrounded by beauty. In two days here I have been lucky enough to experience the architecture and the people of Cape Town and to see some wonderful artwork. The most amazing thing I’ve noticed since I’ve been here is the positive attitude of all the people — they seem so universally positive, about everything!

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Today I spoke to students of design and engineering at Nelson Mandela University in the town of Port Elizabeth, on the coast some 500 miles from Cape Town. It’s a young university, but it already has impressive schools of design, engineering, architecture and other faculties. Design students are always interested in learning, but this group really seemed to want to understand more about design. I wanted to help give them a better understanding of my role at GM and of the role that design plays at GM across the globe.

I explained General Motors to them in a way we don’t normally — I just walked them through “a day in my life” at work. They saw me and the other designers starting at 6 a.m. in the Virtual Reality Room, moving into the studios for design reviews and status updates using the Buick Enclave and the Chevy Camaro Concept as examples. I also shared with them some of our global concept vehicles like the EFIJY and the AeroX. I think they were impressed, to say the least!

The students and faculty seemed engaged and anxious to hear about General Motors, about our products and about the design world globally. After my presentation to them, I got a lot of great questions, and had good one-on-one discussions with the students that created a lot of synergy. After the session, they took me on a tour of their department. It was terrific! Meeting them, as well as seeing the university and its engineering center, has had a tremendous impact on me.

I think the greatest impression I’ve had since I’ve been in Africa is of the colors. You might ask what I mean by that. The use of color and the combinations of colors here are fascinating. For example, I might see someone wearing six different colors of clothing, and I can zoom in on three of them and be amazed by the combination. Here in Port Elizabeth, colors on the exteriors of buildings look like colors that in North America we would use on the interior of a house. It is fascinating and it makes me wonder about what colors we might use in designing the interior and exterior of our automobiles.



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