Stefan Jacoby named as head of international operations at GM

Article by Anita Panait, on August 3, 2013

Former Volvo Cars chief executive Stefan Jacoby is now at General Motors. Jacoby, who had been with Volkswagen and Volvo, has been appointed to take charge of GM’s international operations, effective August 5, 2013. He will replace Tim Lee, who is set to sit as chairman of GM China. Jacoby exited as Volvo CEO late 2012 after suffering a mild stroke.

His automotive career spans around 30 years, and had held key roles at Mitsubishi and Volkswagen. He was chief of VW in the United States. Now with GM, Jacoby will lead the carmaker’s business in over 100 markets in Africa, Asia Pacific and the Middle East.

GM chief executive Dan Akerson said in a statement that Jacoby is a “great addition to an already strong team." He said that they expect Jacoby to continue building on his record of delivering results in global markets. Jacoby will report to Akerson.

Lee, meanwhile, will remain head of global manufacturing while sitting as chairman of GM China. Bob Socia, president of GM China, will continue to report to Lee. Akerson said that GM is leading in the US and China, which are considered as the two most important auto markets globally.

He remarked that GM is in the midst of “the most aggressive product rollout” in the carmaker’s history and Lee is critical to building on its success in China and “to ensuring flawless vehicle launches around the globe." Jacoby cited GM's customer focus and momentum as two reasons why is he is joining the Detroit carmaker.

“I’m excited to join a company that’s delivering beautiful, high-quality and fascinating vehicles and is committed to improving the total customer experience,” he said. “The GM team has plans to win in every market, and I’m eager to contribute.”

Jacoby’s departure as the CEO of Volvo was considered a controversial one. Although he suffered from stroke in September 2012, it was not cited as the reason for his eventual exit. One of those reasons could be the clash of philosophies over the carmaker’s long-term direction between Jacoby and the chairman-founder of Volvo’s parent, Li Shufu of Zhejiang Geely Holding Group.

Shortly after Geely acquired Volvo from Ford Motor Co. in 2010, Li suggested that Volvo should produce upscale luxury sedans that would rival luxury vehicles produced by BMW, Mercedes and Audi. Jacoby, however, objected as he and Volvo's European managers would rather focus on smaller vehicles to enhance the carmaker’s "green" image.

However, during the 2010 Los Angeles Auto Show, Jacoby acknowledged that China's executives had a strong preference for long luxury sedans.

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