DETROIT – General Motors Vice Chairman and Chief Technology Officer Tom Stephens has elected to retire effective April 1, capping a 43-year career that included leadership of the company’s global powertrain and product development organizations.
In his most recent role as CTO, Stephens led the company’s product technology arm, working to identify and develop advanced and game-changing technologies for integration in future GM vehicles. He also focused on building closer relationships with external and internal technology partners. His successor will be named later.
Stephens, 63, served as Vice Chairman, Global Product Operations from April 2009 through February 2011. He was Group Vice President of Global Powertrain from July 2001 to March 2008, when he was promoted to Executive Vice President of Global Powertrain and Global Quality.
His GM career began in 1969 as an hourly employee at the Chevrolet Engineering Center in Warren, Mich., under the University of Michigan Student Co-op Program. Stephens held several engineering positions at Cadillac Motor Car Division and a series of engineering leadership posts with the Buick-Oldsmobile-Cadillac Division before being chosen to lead the newly created GM Powertrain Division.
“Tom Stephens is an engineering icon within our company and within our industry,” said GM Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson. “We have all benefited greatly from his passion, wisdom, and commitment to product excellence. His talent and contributions to GM are deeply appreciated and his expertise will be missed.”
Key highlights of Stephens’ career include leading the development of the first Cadillac Northstar engine, GM’s premier dual overhead cam performance engine, which won numerous industry and engine awards. He also spearheaded the creation of GM’s advanced propulsion technology strategy, which guided the company’s development of a wide range of advanced engine technologies, hybrid vehicles, and the Chevrolet Volt.
Stephens led the globalization of powertrain engineering, leveraging global centers of expertise to speed engine development. He also championed the use of computational tools and common parts in GM engineering and product development processes to increase quality and efficiency.
After retirement, Stephens will continue to serve on the board of directors of the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Foundation and the board of trustees for the Detroit Science Center. He is a member of the Engineering Advisory Council for the University of Michigan School of Engineering and was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2007 for his contributions to powertrain engineering.
General Motors Vice Chairman Tom Stephens (center) hoists the 2011 Motor Trend Car Of The Year award for the Chevrolet Volt electric vehicle at an announcement in the wind tunnel at the General Motors Aerodynamics Lab in Warren, Michigan Tuesday, November 16, 2010. Motor Trend recognized the Volt for the efficient, low-emissions capability of an electric motor with the range and flexibility of an internal combustion engine. (Photo by John F. Martin for Chevrolet)