General Motors plans to reestablish its presence in Europe with a mobility startup business, and it has tapped Mahmoud Samara, Cadillac’s North America chief who has led much of the transition to electric vehicles this year, to run it.
Samara, 44, becomes president and managing director of GM Europe on Dec. 1. He will report to Steve Kiefer, senior vice president and president of GM International, and will be based in Zurich.
“His mission is to transform our current operations into a non-traditional mobility start-up in the region, identifying entrepreneurial opportunities to commercialize our global growth strategy investments in Europe,” Kiefer said in a statement. “We will make very deliberate decisions about where and how we compete in Europe.”
Eric Cunningham, vice president of excellence for GM’s electric vehicle growth organization, will replace Samara as vice president of Cadillac North America sales, services and marketing, also effective Dec. 1. He will report to Rory Harvey, vice president of global Cadillac.
The leadership shifts come as GM aims to fill the void it left in Europe after selling its Opel and Vauxhall brands to PSA Group in 2017 and as Cadillac prepares for electrification.
Cadillac is just beginning to electrify its lineup, with the Lyriq crossover going on sale in the first quarter, and is revamping its dealership network for EV sales and service. More than one-third of Cadillac dealers opted to leave the brand this year.
Samara’s role with Cadillac was critical for preparing Cadillac’s 560 remaining dealers for the EV transition. In Europe, Samara will be tasked with leading a sustainable and profitable mobility startup with electric and autonomous vehicles, GM said in an emailed statement. The startup will also incorporate software, connectivity, defense, delivery and logistics.
“It has been an honor to work with our incredible dealer partners to build great momentum for Cadillac in pursuit of GM’s global growth plan and EV future. However, it’s not often that you get the opportunity to lead and build something new,” Samara said in the statement. “My most immediate priorities will be developing the right structure and strategy for our start-up in Europe.”
Samara was an Automotive News Rising Star this year.
Cunningham, 56, Cadillac’s incoming vice president of North America, assumes his new role after a nearly four-decade tenure with GM. Most recently, he was vice president of excellence for GM’s electric vehicle growth organization, led by Chief EV Officer Travis Hester. The team is responsible for preparing and transforming the EV business, including the dealership network, customer experience and infrastructure.
“Cadillac is in the midst of a historic transformation as the brand prepares for our EV future. I look forward to working with Cadillac’s dealer network as we shape this vision together,” Cunningham said in a statement. “I have always admired Cadillac and I’m excited to have the opportunity to leverage my retail and EV experience to help enable the brand’s journey.”