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GM creating new product team for autonomous vehicles

Michael Wayland
The Detroit News

General Motors Co. is creating a new team within its product development division to focus on the creation and implementation of autonomous vehicles and related technologies.

The Detroit-based automaker this week internally announced the creation of the Autonomous and Technology Vehicle Development Team effective Feb. 1. The group will be led by Doug Parks, who will move from vice president of global product programs to the new position of vice president of autonomous technology and vehicle execution.

The company says the new team will work on speeding up its technical capabilities and “create the future direction of GM vehicle programs in the autonomous and technologically advanced vehicle space.”

“Parks and his team will be the single point accountable for all critical technologies and total vehicle solutions in the areas of electrical architecture, controls and software, system and safety integration, development and validation, sourcing and execution,” reads a company statement.

Parks, 54, joined GM in 1984. He will report to product development head Mark Reuss, GM vice president of global product development, purchasing and supply chain.

The autonomous vehicle team will principally be based in Warren.

Other key moves involved with the autonomous realignment include:

■Pam Fletcher, executive chief engineer of Global Electric Vehicles, will add the Autonomous Chevrolet Volt Campus Fleet to her responsibilities. She also will lead a team focused on strategic planning and competitive assessments within the autonomous and electric vehicle space.

■Sheri Hickok, chief engineer of Next Generation Light Duty Pickup, is appointed executive chief engineer of Autonomous JVs and Fleet Execution. She will lead the execution teams of autonomous fleets and the strategy and development of related key partnerships and joint ventures.

■Andrew Farah, chief engineer of Global Electrified Vehicles, is promoted to chief technology architect of Autonomous Systems. Farah will lead the technical activities of the teams creating hardware, software and controls mechanisms to support autonomous vehicles. In addition, he will lead the global product development team’s focus on technologies required for autonomous vehicle operations.

■Scott Miller, director of global C02 strategy, energy, mass and aerodynamics, is appointed director of autonomous vehicle integration. He will be the technical director for Autonomous feature and controls integration, vehicle and feature validation, and vehicle development teams.

The new group follows several announcements from the Detroit-based automaker regarding autonomous vehicles as well as ride-hailing/sharing services, which many believe to be one of the most effective ways to launch autonomous cars.

GM last week announced its new personal mobility brand, Maven, which includes a new citywide car-sharing program in Ann Arbor featuring GM vehicles located at 21 parking spots across the city available for rent for as little as $6 an hour.

The Maven announcement came days after GM hired employees and bought assets of Sidecar Technologies Inc., a ride-hailing company that ceased operations in December.

Ride-hailing company Lyft Inc. on Jan. 4 also announced GM invested $500 million in the company as part of a $1 billion round of fund-raising.

The investment included GM President Dan Ammann receiving a seat on Lyft’s board as well as making the automaker a preferred vehicle provider.

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