2005 William A. Patterson Transportation Lecture

Reinventing the Automobile

Lawrence D. Burns
Vice President
GM Research & Development and Planning
General Motors Corporation

Larry Burns was named Vice President of General Motors Research & Development and Planning in May, 1998. In this post, he oversees GM’s advanced technology and innovation programs and also has responsibility for the company’s product, capacity, and business plans. He is a member of the Automotive Strategy Board, GM’s highest-level management team.

In addition to driving innovation into today’s vehicles, Larry is championing GM’s “reinvention” of the automobile around promising new technologies like fuel cells and drive-by-wire systems. The goal is to realize sustainable mobility with vehicles that are affordable and aspirational. This is the key to providing the freedom benefits of “automobility” to significantly more of the world’s population than the 12 percent who own vehicles today – without compromising future generations.

Larry began his GM career in 1969 as a member of the R&D staff, where his research focused on transportation, logistics, and production systems. He subsequently held executive positions in several GM divisions in the areas of product program management, quality, production control, industrial engineering, and product and business planning.

Larry holds a Ph.D. in civil engineering from the University of California at Berkeley, a master’s degree in engineering/public policy from the University of Michigan and a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from General Motors Institute (now Kettering University).

He serves on the boards of the Deafness Research Foundation, the University of Michigan’s Center for Hearing Disorders, and is the Honorary National Chairman for MATHCOUNTS. His interests include running, skiing, backpacking, and spending time with his family. Larry and his wife CeCe have two daughters, Natalee, 15, and Hilary, 12.