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David Lyon in shock GM departure
by Jens Meiners   
Lyon was due to move to Germany to head up Opel/Vauxhall design. Click for larger images

News of David Lyon's shock departure from General Motors broke this weekend. Lyon was set to become Vice President of Design for Opel/Vauxhall in Rüsselsheim, Germany on 1 August. Up until now, he was responsible for Buick and GMC design, GM interior design and global cross brand design.

Instead of boarding his fiight to Germany, Lyon was reportedly escorted out of GM by the design department's HR director, Joseph Ofori-Agboka, on Thursday. On Friday morning, a one-liner was e-mailed by Ed Welburn himself, worded to this effect: "Effective immediately, David Lyon is no longer an employee of General Motors Corporation".

Lyon's departure is sending violent shock waves through GM Design, as the unprecendented manner of his exit suggests it was neither amicable nor the result of careful planning. Indeed, his preparations to move to Rüsselsheim were well underway, and sources tell us he was passionate about leaving his mark in Germany. The week before last, Lyon hosted a well-attended farewell party; moreover, an official ceremony was held by his GM's head of design, Ed Welburn.

Opel was taken by utter surprise by Lyon's departure and will only confirm that he has left GM and that Mark Adams will remain Opel design chief for an interim period until a successor is found. Adams' plans to move back to Detroit to lead Buick and Cadillac Design are unaltered.

The search for a replacement undoubtedly is in high gear at GM and, given the importance of this job, we don't believe the company will look for an outside replacement. Within Opel, the names Friedhelm Engler, Malcolm Ward, and Liz Wetzel come to mind. "It is a bitter and undeserved situation for Opel," an insider says. We'll keep you posted as and when more details emerge.

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