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BMW hires former General Motors EV expert Weber, sources say

Mon, 11 Apr 2011

BMW AG has hired former Opel product chief Frank Weber, sources at both companies told Automotive News Europe.

It's a move that gives the world's leading luxury carmaker a huge boost in electric vehicle expertise as Weber was the lead engineer for the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid. BMW plans to launch its i3 full-electric car and its i8 plug-in hybrid in 2013.

Weber will report to Klaus Draeger, BMW's head of research and development, company sources told ANE. Weber's hiring shows the high value automakers place on people with expertise in alternative powertrain as BMW seldom hires top-ranking executives from competitors because it prefers to develop its own talent and promote from within.

Weber is the second top-tier engineer with vast knowledge of Opel's future product portfolio to leave the General Motor Co. subsidiary in less than a year. In October 2010, former Opel Managing Director Hans Demant started work at Volkswagen AG as its senior vice president in charge of international relations.

Opel has not named a successor for Weber, who returned to the German automaker in November 2009 to lead its product team. Prior to that, Weber spent two years at GM in the United States working on the Volt. The Volt and Opel's version of the car, the Ampera, debut in Europe in November.

Weber is a German native who joined Opel in 1991 after finishing his engineering studies at Darmstadt University. He held several leading positions in the technical development center in Ruesselsheim such as director of advanced concept engineering.

By Harald Hamprecht- Automotive News Europe