Dave Rand, the former General Motors Design Chief, has resigned from the Chinese State-owned automaker after joining the company last October. Rand's resignation, which was made official last week, follows that of his senior at Changan, Ken Ma who stepped down as Vice President of Design earlier this year.
It is not clear precisely why both men have decided to leave the Chinese carmaker, but several people familiar with the situation have said that both Rand and Ma's departures are connected with Changan Auto's recent financial difficulties.
Insiders close to the matter said Rand had already taken the decision to leave Changan when the Chongqing-based company announced it was to close its Beijing design studio, and asked Rand to move to it Chongqing facility.
Before joining Changan, Rand worked for GM for 31 years – from 1978 to 2009 – finally holding the position of Executive Director of Global Advanced Design. At Changan Auto, both he and Ma were charged with modernizing the Chinese carmaker's designs by bringing their extensive knowledge and expertise.
Ma, in particular, was given the task of establishing a major design center in Beijing that would be free from the influence of engineers at the company's HQ in Chongqing. Both men worked side-by-side as they tried to establish the studio in China's capital, which was temporarily housed inside independent engineering and design house CH-Auto.
Executives at CH-Auto and other staff have said the temporary studio was, more or less, officially closed earlier this year. Some of Changan's designers and other employees having spoken to CH-Auto about joining the independent studio.
According to its filing with the Shenzhen stock exchange, Changan Auto's net profit for the first three quarters of last year slipped 48 percent from the previous year. This fall has been attributed to a collapse in sales of Changan microvans and mini trucks. Changan's market share in this sector deminished after the Chinese government cancelled incentives that had helped originally produce a surge in sales of those no-frills vehicles. According to one estimate, Changan Auto sold 632,000 microvans and mini trucks in 2011, about 30 percent fewer than the year before.