85 Years of GM Design: the timeline (Part 2)

Automotive Design 26 Jun 2012
85 Years of GM Design: the timeline (Part 2)

The second part of the official timeline of the GM Design department, from the 1990s to the present day, including a gallery of 50+ photos and sketches.

(continues from Part 1)


  • 1992 Cadillac SevilleThe 1992 Cadillac Seville, the 1992 Pontiac Bonneville, 1994 Chevrolet S-10 Blazer and pickup, the 1995 Buick Riviera and the 1995 Oldsmobile Aurora are introduced.
  • Wayne Cherry becomes the fifth vice president of GM Design in 1992. Cherry’s international experience in design and management reshapes the Design Center. Cherry had previously served as the director of design at Vauxhall/Bedford and Opel.
  • Cherry reorganizes GM Design, moving from 27 exterior, interior and advanced studios to eight brand character centers, each with a clear brand identity and familiar look.
  • Digital design and math-based tools assume a greater role in the design process. Two virtual reality centers permit the evaluation of math-based designs in 3-D.
  • 1999 Cadillac Evoq Roadster ConceptDesign Center deploys the largest number of designer workstations in the industry. Designers, sculptors and engineers are all trained in the use of digital tools. Computer animation allows conceptual designs to be shown driving through realistic environments. Clay milling machines are installed on nearly every modeling platform.
  • Cherry proposes showing a portfolio of new product concepts at major auto shows each year. The 1999 Chevrolet Nomad, Cadillac Evoq and Buick Cielo concepts, developed under Cherry’s leadership, are unveiled at the 1999 North American International Auto Show. The Evoq is named “Best in Show.”


2002 Chevrolet Borrego Concept 2002 Chevrolet Borrego Concept

  • In Harley Earl’s hometown, GM’s North Hollywood Advanced Design Center opens its doors in January 2000 in the former home of the area’s landmark bread bakeries. A year later, at the Los Angeles Auto Show, the studio presents its first vehicle, the Chevrolet Borrego Concept.
2003 Chevrolet SSR - Pre-production Design Sketch 2000 Chevrolet SSR - Design Sketch
  • The Chevrolet SSR hot-rod pickup concept, introduced at the 2000 NAIAS, realizes Cherry’s vision for developing a contemporary, high-performance vehicle based on the brand equity and popularity of early 1950s Chevrolet pickups.
  • Robert Lutz joins GM to become vice chairman for product development. Lutz seeks to bolster Design’s role and influence in the vehicle development process.
2004 GM Autonomy Concept Vision 2004 GM Autonomy Concept
  • GM Design reshapes the automobile with the AUTOnomy, the first vehicle designed completely around a fuel cell system and by-wire technology.
Pontiac Solstice Concept - Design Sketch Pontiac Solstice Concept - Design Sketch

The concept was unveiled at the 2002 North American International Auto Show, along with award-winning Pontiac Solstice and Cadillac Cien concepts.

2002 Cadillac Cien Concept 2002 Cadillac Cien Concept
  • GM showcases “Concept to Reality” at the 2002 North American International Auto Show with three production-model introductions – the Chevy SSR, Cadillac XLR and HUMMER H2. The SSR is designed by Ed Welburn, who succeeds Cherry a year later.
  • 2003 Cadillac CTSCherry’s leadership and personal involvement establish the new design direction for Cadillac, embodied in the 2001 Cadillac Escalade, 2002 Escalade EXT, 2003 CTS and 2004 XLR and SRX, the latter named a Car and Driver “Five Best Trucks Luxury SUV” award in 2004, 2005 and 2006.
  • GM Design restructures, moving to an architecture-based system led by five executive directors who report to the GM vice president for Design.
    The executive directors oversee quality and brand character, unibody architectures, body-on-frame architectures, vehicle architecture engineering, and advanced vehicle design.
  • From 1999 through 2003, GM reveals more than 35 auto show vehicles around the globe – mostly at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
2003 Cadillac Sixteen Concept 2003 Cadillac Sixteen Concept
  • The Cadillac Sixteen concept, a modern interpretation of everything that made Cadillac the standard of the world, is unveiled at the 2003 NAIAS. GM designers draw extensively on the traditions of coach building for the Cadillac Sixteen, employing the talents of leading artisans for the upholstery, instrumentation, interior wood and metal elements, and aluminum body panels.
  • In 2003, Edward T. Welburn becomes GM’s sixth design chief when he is named vice president of GM North America Design.
  • As North American and European markets mature, sales surge in emerging markets such as China and Southeast Asia, the Middle East and South America, accelerating the need for expanded global design capabilities.
  • Welburn is named vice-president of GM Global Design in 2005, the first design chief with global leadership responsibilities. His vision is to align design activities around centers of excellence: pickups and SUVs in the U.S., midsize cars in Europe, rear-drive cars in Australia, and small cars in Europe and South Korea.
  • Holden Efijy ConceptHolden Efijy – a wild, 21st-century hot rod reincarnating Australia’s most famous car, the Holden FJ – debuts at Australian International Motor Show October 2005. The pillarless coupe features a Corvette underbody, V-8 power, and state-of-the-art technology.
  • Chevrolet Camaro wins 2006 EyesOn Design award for “Concept Implementation.”
  • The Chevrolet Volt concept is introduced at the 2007 North American International Auto Show. An electric car with extended range, it alleviates the “range anxiety” associated with previous electric vehicles and elicits an avalanche of global media coverage.
  • The newly redesigned Chevrolet Silverado is named 2007 “North American Truck of the Year.”
  • The 2008 Cadillac CTS wins EyesOn Design award for “Concept Implementation.”
  • Buick’s Riviera concept makes its world debut at 2007 Shanghai Auto Show, revealing the brand’s global design direction for its next generation of midsize luxury cars.
  • At the 2007 New York Auto Show, a trio of small-car concepts (aka the Chevrolet Triplets) is unveiled in South Korea with the names Beat, Traxx and Groove. The Beat goes on to inspire the production Chevrolet Spark.
  • In GM’s centennial year, the beginning of a GM design revival produces three standouts: the 2008 Chevrolet Malibu, which re-establishes Chevrolet in the midsize sedan segment; the 2008 Buick Enclave, which ushers in a total product renaissance at Buick; and the second-generation Cadillac CTS, the first car from a GM brand to win Motor Trend “Car of the Year” honors since 1998. The 2009 Cadillac CTS-V and CTS Coupe Concept win EyesOn Design “Best Production Car” and “Best Concept” awards, respectively.
  • Chevrolet debuts GPiX Crossover Coupe at Sao Paulo International Auto Show in October 2008.
  • Cadillac Converj ConceptThe Cadillac Converj Concept, revealed at the 2009 North American International Auto Show, wins the EyesOn Design “Best Concept,” AutoWeek’s “Best Concept” and the Detroit News’ Readers’ Choice “Best Concept” awards.
  • In 2009, GM is one of two domestic automakers to undergo a managed bankruptcy as a result of the 2008 global economic collapse. GM cuts its North American brands from eight to four – Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC.
  • Chevrolet CruzeTwo all-new, important Chevrolets are introduced in 2009: The global Cruze small car, which goes on to be Chevrolet’s top-selling passenger car; the Chevrolet Camaro, which unseats the Ford Mustang for sports car dominance.
  • 50th Anniversary Corvette Stingray Coupe (aka Corvette Centennial) is first shown at the Chicago Auto Show and stars in the movie “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.”
  • The first new-vehicle launch after GM emerges from bankruptcy, the 2010 Buick LaCrosse, continues the brand’s product transformation.
Corvette Stingray Concept 2010 Buick LaCrosse

Designed in the U.S. and China, it is GM’s first globally designed passenger car. LaCrosse receives more than a dozen awards and car industry accolades by Time, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), Car and Driver, Edmunds, About.com, Motor Week, CanadianDriver.com, Kelly Blue Book.


  • GMC Granite ConceptGMC wins top honors for the Granite Concept at the EyesOn Design Awards at the 2010 North American International Auto Show; the Cadillac CTS Coupe and Cadillac XTS concept win “Best in Show” and “Best Concept,” respectively, in the annual Detroit News Readers’ Choice Awards.
  • The Chevrolet Cruze, already on sale around the world, goes on sale in North America.
  • New 2010 Equinox reflects Chevrolet’s global design language first shown on the Malibu sedan and Traverse crossover.
  • GM EN-V (Electric Network Vehicle) ConceptsIndustry awards for the Equinox include Ward’s “Interior of the Year,” Cars.com “SUV of the Year”; Car and Driver Editor’s Choice; Kbb.com “Top 10 Family Car”; Motor Week “Drivers’ Choice-Best Small Utility”; Consumer’s Digest “Best Buy.”
  • Three EN-V (Electric Networked Vehicle) Concepts make their debut in the SAIC-GM exhibit at the World Expo 2010 Shanghai, offering the promise of reducing traffic congestion, crashes and vehicle emissions using wireless communication, vehicle sensors, GPS and vehicle-to-vehicle communication. Buick Envision Concept is also unveiled at the show.
  • 2010 Chevrolet Camaro Design SketchThe Chevrolet Camaro wins several awards: 2010 “World Car Design of the Year” at the 2010 New York International Auto Show; “Collectible Car of the Year” by the National Automotive History Collection; Kiplinger’s “Best New Sports Car,” Ward’s “Best Sports Car Interior” award; “Best in Design” by Popular Mechanics, SEMA Show’s “Hottest Car” in 2010 and 2011 and Edmunds’ “Launch Breakthrough.”
  • GM launches the Baojun brand in 2010 to address the growing demand for affordable passenger cars in China.
  • In late 2010, the production version of the Chevrolet Volt extended range electric vehicle rolls off the assembly line at GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck plant.
  • The 21st-century rebirth of Camaro opens a new chapter when 2011 Camaro convertible is unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November 2010. Road & Track names it a “New Year’s Coolest Car.”
  • Buick GL8 MPVThird-generation Buick GL8 MPV debuts at Shanghai Auto Show in November 2010 with more space, power, features and Buick’s modern design vocabulary.
  • At the 2011 North American International Auto Show, Volt is named “North American Car of the Year,” Motor Trend “Car of the Year” and Motor Week Driver’s Choice “Best of the Year.”
  • Cadillac CTS-V Wagon is named 2011 All-Star by Automobile magazine; “Editors Choice” top 10 vehicle of the year by MSN Autos and the “Most Wanted” by Edmunds Inside Line.
  • An all-new, globally designed Chevrolet Colorado midsize pickup truck launches in Thailand, the world’s largest midsize pickup market. At a media event celebrating the Chevrolet Centennial, it is announced the pickup will be sold in North America.
  • 2011 Astra GTC Design SketchOpel Astra GTC Compact Coupe debuts at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show to strong public interest: 15,000 customer orders are received effectively sight unseen.
  • The all-new Chevrolet Malibu – Chevrolet’s first global midsize sedan – goes on sale in South Korea. It will eventually be sold in more than 100 countries on six continents.
  • 2012 Camaro ZL1 Coupe – the fastest Camaro ever offered by Chevrolet – debuts at the 2011 Chicago Auto Show. The ZL1 Convertible is unveiled nine months later at the Los Angeles Auto Show as a 2013 model.
  • Cadillac Ciel ConceptCiel Concept makes its world debut at the 2011 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, recalling Cadillac’s large, expressive luxury heritage in a modern, forward-facing way.
  • U.S. and Canadian version of the Chevrolet Spark is introduced at the Los Angeles Auto Show. It will go on sale in 2012, followed by a battery-electric version for select markets in 2013.
  • The all-new 2013 Cadillac XTS makes its debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show with distinction as the most technologically advanced production car in the brand’s history.
  • The global Buick Encore small crossover is unveiled at the 2012 North American International Auto Show.
  • Chevrolet Mi-Ray ConceptThe Chevrolet MiRay concept car wins “Best Concept” in the annual Detroit News Readers’ Choice Awards.
  • Cadillac introduces 2013 ATS, an all-new compact luxury sports sedan to challenge the world’s best premium cars.
  • Chevrolet Volt and its European sibling Opel Ampera are named the 2012 “European Car of the Year” – the first vehicle designed and manufactured in North America to earn the prestigious award.
  • The 2014 Impala, Chevrolet’s new flagship and the 10th generation of one of the industry’s most enduring and popular nameplates, debuts at the 2012 New York International Auto Show.
  • GM Global Design announces it will expand its GM Korea Design Center by early 2013. The expansion will create an environment for designers to create and develop design strategies for GM’s future product portfolio.
  • GM announces that a new GM China Advanced Studio will open in July 2012 in Shanghai and serve as a future hub for automotive design in Asia. It is headed by Wulin Gaowa, the first female designer appointed to oversee a stand-alone GM Design studio.

(Source: GM)

Image Gallery

85 Years of GM Design: the timeline (Part 2) - Image 33
85 Years of GM Design: the timeline (Part 2) - Image 32
85 Years of GM Design: the timeline (Part 2) - Image 39
85 Years of GM Design: the timeline (Part 2) - Image 2
85 Years of GM Design: the timeline (Part 2) - Image 25
85 Years of GM Design: the timeline (Part 2) - Image 43
85 Years of GM Design: the timeline (Part 2) - Image 5
85 Years of GM Design: the timeline (Part 2) - Image 22
85 Years of GM Design: the timeline (Part 2) - Image 7

Related Stories

Harley Earl: Designer Extraordinaire

Harley Earl: Designer Extraordinaire

A 8 minute documentary on Harley Earl, legendary car designer and one of the fathers of the modern automotive design and styling process.
Car designers and sculptors and their dads

Car designers and sculptors and their dads

Celebrating last Friday's Father's Day, GM has published an article titled "Auto Sculptors and Designers Credit Dad for Creative Calling" dedicated to some father-sons relationships in the Buick design department.

“GM’s Marvelous Motorama” at Petersen Automotive Museum celebrates Dream Cars from the 1950s

The Petersen Automotive Museum will celebrate “Dream Cars” from the 1950s with the exhibit “GM's Marvelous Motorama: Dream Cars From the Joe Bortz Collection,” which will open on March 16, 2024.


Leave a Comment


Get all the updates with our weekly newsletter!

Find a Car

Scroll To Top
Scroll To Bottom