In more than 80 years of GM design history, Ed Welburn is just the sixth chief designer for the Detroit automaker. Welburn, a Philadelphia native, has overseen designs from the Cadillac CTS to the Chevrolet Corvette. GM appointed him chief of GM Design North America in 2003 and head of GM Global Design in 2005 — a new position he filled. Today, the 62-year-old oversees some 2,500 designers and creative associates across 10 global design centers. He oversees design for GM's four U.S. brands — Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet and GMC — alongside international ones like Opel and Vauxhall.
Welburn has plenty to celebrate. GM fared well in J.D. Power and Associates' latest Initial Quality Survey, an assessment of things that break — and, critics point out, subjective issues that drivers simply don't like — in the first 90 days of vehicle ownership. On Wednesday, we sat down with him near our Chicago offices. He held forth on a range of topics: GM's recent quality scores, the state of so-called "capacitive" dashboard buttons and the ramp-up to the 2014 Corvette.