GM Australia and New Zealand has a new boss.

    Australian Jess Bala is taking the reins as managing director from September 1, 2023, replacing Marc Ebolo.

    This will see her lead operations across both countries, including GM Specialty Vehicles, Isuzu New Zealand, Chevrolet Racing, and GM’s customer care and aftersales services including Holden Aftersales.

    Mr Ebolo is moving to the role of sales director for GM Middle East, based in Dubai.

    Ms Bala steps into the role after having served most recently as director of global product planning and product strategy for Cadillac, which saw her play a central role in the luxury brand’s transition to being electric-only by 2030.

    Her career started at Holden in 2009 according to her LinkedIn, where she went on to work in product planning.

    She moved to Detroit in 2013, and has served in various product roles including her most recent post at Cadillac.

    “Jess is a highly experienced GM professional who has 15+ years leading and implementing winning product strategies, including the introduction, and positioning of electric vehicles in both retail and commercial markets,” said Ernesto Ortiz, president and managing director of GM’s Strategic Markets, Alliances and Distributors region, which includes Australia and New Zealand.

    “Australia and New Zealand are critical markets in GM’s international strategy and Jess’ appointment comes at an important time in the operation, with further opportunity and transformation for the business on the horizon.”

    Ms Bala oversaw the introduction of the Cadillac Lyriq in North America and China.

    GMSV has remained coy on the prospect of selling electric vehicles in Australia, and currently sells only the Chevrolet Corvette and Silverado with big V8 engines.

    There have been signs, however, the company could look to import electric Cadillacs.

    First a trademark filing appeared on IP Australia for the Cadillac Lyriq last year, which has also been spied in right-hand drive. Subsequently, two more trademark filings appeared in July: one for the smaller Optiq, the other for the larger Escalade IQ.

    Senior members of the General Motors team in Australia told CarExpert earlier this year there’s “a lot of exciting stuff coming this year”.

    When it comes to Cadillac, a spokesperson for General Motors simply said “stay tuned”.

    Cadillac last officially sold vehicles in Australia in 1969, but 40 years later it came extremely close to returning to the local market with the second-generation CTS – obtaining local certification and shipping examples from the US – before the global financial crisis scuppered these plans.

    “Across Australia and New Zealand, we will remain focused on putting the customers first by bringing winning products and a world-class ownership experience,” said Ms Bala.

    “GM Australia and New Zealand has a strong foundation for future growth, deploying new technologies, and building new partnerships to surprise and delight our customers.”

    That “new technologies” line could be another hint towards electric vehicles, though GMSV is also getting ready to launch the hybrid Chevrolet Corvette E-Ray in Australia.

    William Stopford

    William Stopford is an automotive journalist based in Brisbane, Australia. William is a Business/Journalism graduate from the Queensland University of Technology who loves to travel, briefly lived in the US, and has a particular interest in the American car industry.

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