GM Hires Former Google Executive to Replace Retiring Head of Manufacturing

General Motors (Credits: Getty Images)

General Motors (GM) is undergoing significant changes in its leadership, with the retirement of its long-standing head of manufacturing and the hiring of a former Tesla and Google executive to assume the role.

Gerald Johnson, who served as the executive vice president of Global Manufacturing and Sustainability, will be stepping down after a remarkable 44-year tenure with the automaker.

Taking over his responsibilities is Jens Peter “JP” Clausen, a seasoned executive with experience at Tesla, Lego, and most recently, Google.

Johnson’s retirement was somewhat expected given his lengthy service to the company. However, GM also announced another unexpected departure: Mike Abbott, the executive vice president of software and services, will be leaving due to health reasons.

General Motors (Credits: GM)

Abbott, a former Apple executive who joined GM in May, cited health issues concerning his heart in a LinkedIn post, emphasizing the need to prioritize his recovery and spend time with his family.

Baris Cetinok, the current vice president of product in software and services and also a former Apple executive, will temporarily fill Abbott’s position while a search for a permanent replacement is underway. These leadership changes are effective as of April 2, although Johnson will continue to support the company throughout the year.

The appointment of Clausen is particularly significant as GM, along with other automakers, strives to compete with or surpass Tesla in manufacturing batteries and powertrains for electric vehicles.

Clausen’s extensive experience includes nearly 14 years at Lego, followed by a pivotal role at Tesla, where he oversaw the development and expansion of the Nevada Gigafactory, Tesla’s first battery manufacturing plant.

General Motors (Credits: GM)

During his time at Tesla, Clausen played a crucial role in scaling production and improving efficiency, especially as the company transitioned from producing niche vehicles to mass-market electric cars.

After leaving Tesla, Clausen pursued roles at Zymergen and later Google, where he focused on sustainable growth initiatives, including environmentally responsible cooling solutions for data centers.

Clausen’s departure from Google is scheduled for March 29, according to a company spokesperson.

Notably, Clausen is not the only former Tesla executive to join GM, as the company’s board includes Jon McNeill, Tesla’s former President of Global Sales and Service, and recently hired Kurt Kelty, who led Tesla’s battery development for over a decade, as vice president of batteries.

Nate O'Hara
Nathan is a seasoned commerce writer with a passion for unraveling the intricacies of the business world and distilling them into engaging narratives. During his academic journey, he delved deep into subjects like economics, marketing, and entrepreneurship, honing his analytical skills and developing a keen understanding of market dynamics.