GM hires former Tesla and Google executive to lead manufacturing

Gerald Johnson (center), executive vice president of global manufacturing and labor relations at General Motors, watches as engineers and technicians set up and test machines that will be used to make Level 1 face masks at a plant in Warren, Michigan.

Photo by John F. Martin for General Motors

DETROIT – General Motors' The former manufacturing manager is retiring and the company has hired a former tesla and Google executive to take his place.

The Detroit automaker said Tuesday that Gerald Johnson, executive vice president of Global Manufacturing and Sustainability, will pass the baton to Jens Peter “JP” Clausen, a former executive at Tesla, Lego and, most recently, Google.

The appointment will take effect April 2, but Johnson will remain at GM for the rest of the year.

Johnson's departure is not unexpected after 44 years at the automaker, however, GM also announced another, more surprising departure on Tuesday: that of Mike Abbott, executive vice president of software and services.

GM said Abbott, a former Apple executive who started with the automaker in May, will resign for health reasons.

Baris Cetinok, currently vice president of software products and services, has been named as Abbott's interim replacement while a search is conducted. Cetinok, also a former Apple executive, started working at GM in September.

GM did not immediately respond to comments about the timing of Abbott's departure.

Clausen's hiring is particularly notable as GM and other automakers try to match or surpass Tesla in making batteries and powertrains for electric vehicles.

Clausen spent nearly 14 years at toymaker Lego and then joined Tesla during a period of huge growth and upheaval at the company, from 2015 to 2019.

Reporting to CEO Elon Musk and former CTO JB Straubel, Clausen served as vice president of Tesla's first battery manufacturing plant, known as the Nevada Gigafactory, outside Reno.

Clausen led a rapid expansion of that factory and before leaving had been tasked with finding ways for Tesla to reduce the amount of scrap and waste it generated as the electric vehicle maker transitioned from a niche player to a business. automobiles for the mass market.

When Clausen joined Tesla, the now U.S. electric vehicle leader was producing its high-end sedan, the Model S, and its falcon-winged Model X SUV. When he left, the company had begun mass manufacturing and delivering its base Model 3 sedan, which remains its most affordable electric car.

After his tenure at Tesla, Clausen worked at Zymergen, a synthetic biology company funded by Softbank and later acquired by a major competitor, Gingko Bioworks. After the merger, Clausen moved to a position at Google as vice president of engineering for the company's Advanced Data Center Technology Innovation group, where he worked on environmentally responsible cooling solutions for data centers, among other innovation initiatives. sustainable growth.

Clausen isn't the only former Tesla executive joining GM. Members of the company's board of directors include former Tesla president of global sales and services Jon McNeill.

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