GM Appoints Former Tesla and Google Executive to Succeed Retiring Head of Manufacturing

General Motors’ long-standing head of manufacturing is stepping down, and the company has brought on board a former Tesla and Google executive to take his place.

The Detroit automaker revealed on Tuesday that Gerald Johnson, serving as executive vice president of Global Manufacturing and Sustainability, will be handing over the reins to Jens Peter “JP” Clausen, a former executive with Tesla, Lego, and most recently, Google.

Johnson’s retirement comes as no surprise following his 44-year tenure with the automaker. However, GM also disclosed another unexpected departure on Tuesday: Mike Abbott, executive vice president of software and services.

GM Appoints Former Tesla and Google Executive to Succeed Retiring Head of Manufacturing
Retirement of long-time manufacturing head at GM prompts hiring of accomplished replacements. (Credits: GM Authority)

GM explained that Abbott, a former Apple executive who joined the automaker in May, will be stepping down due to health reasons.

Baris Cetinok, currently the vice president of products in software and services, has been appointed as Abbott’s interim successor while a search for a permanent replacement is underway. Cetinok, also a former Apple executive, joined GM in September.

The transitions will take effect on April 2, although GM stated that Johnson will remain with the automaker throughout the remainder of the year.

Google has not yet responded to inquiries regarding Clausen’s departure.

The recruitment of Clausen is particularly noteworthy as GM and other automakers strive to rival or surpass Tesla in the manufacturing of batteries and powertrains for electric vehicles.

Clausen spent nearly 14 years at toymaker Lego before joining Tesla during a period of significant growth and upheaval at the company, spanning from 2015 to 2019.

Reporting directly to CEO Elon Musk and former CTO JB Straubel, Clausen served as vice president of Tesla’s inaugural battery manufacturing facility, known as the Nevada Gigafactory, located outside Reno.

GM Appoints Former Tesla and Google Executive to Succeed Retiring Head of Manufacturing
Former Tesla VP tasked with advancing GM’s competitiveness in electric vehicle manufacturing.

Clausen spearheaded a swift expansion of the factory, and before his departure, he was tasked with finding solutions to reduce the amount of waste generated by Tesla as it transitioned from a niche player to a mainstream automotive business.

During Clausen’s tenure at Tesla, the company evolved from producing high-end models like the Model S sedan and the falcon-wing Model X SUV to mass-manufacturing and delivering its more accessible Model 3 sedan, which remains its flagship electric vehicle.

Following his time at Tesla, Clausen joined Zymergen, a synthetic biology company backed by Softbank and later acquired by industry giant Gingko Bioworks.

After the merger, Clausen moved on to a role at Google as vice president of engineering for the company’s Data Center Advanced Technology Innovation group, focusing on environmentally sustainable cooling solutions for data centers and other initiatives for sustainable growth.

Clausen is not the sole ex-Tesla executive to join GM; the company’s board also includes former Tesla President of Global Sales and Service Jon McNeill.

Sajda Parveen
Sajda Parveen
Sajda Praveen is a market expert. She has over 6 years of experience in the field and she shares her expertise with readers. You can reach out to her at [email protected]
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x