General Motors is restructuring its R&D operations and cutting back on some jobs in the process. According to an insider requesting anonymity, the automaker intends to eliminate around 100 R&D positions at the Warren Technical Center in suburban Detroit and 90 more in India. The automaker declined to disclose the precise number of R&D staff that it has.
However, it stated that most of the R&D workers are in Warren. With the 100 layoffs in Warren, the number of R&D employees there will be reduced to around 300, the insider disclosed. The automaker's R&D division focuses on advanced technologies like fuel cell development. It occupies only a fraction of the expansive Warren center, which has around 16,000 employees in engineering and design, among other areas.
GM confirmed the restructuring in a statement, but not the number of jobs to cut. The R&D reorganization is led by versatile GM engineer Jon Lauckner, who took over the operation in April. Lauckner succeeded Tom Stephens, who retired as the chief technology officer of GM. The automaker decided not to replace former vice president of R&D Alan Taub, who served under Stephens and retired in April. Lauckner has assumed the duties of Taub.
GM stated that its smaller R&D workforce will center on technologies that have a good chance of being utilized on future vehicles and light trucks, instead of simply patenting innovations which will not be used.
These actions will allow the organization to concentrate more on "commercializing customer-focused innovation" in a more cost-effective and efficient way, the automaker said.
In 2011, GM invested $8.1 billion on R&D. However, the figure includes global engineering expenses as well as the automaker's entire product-development budget, according to a company spokesperson. The core R&D operation of GM represents only a minor portion of the $8.1 billion figure, he disclosed.