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Amazon recruits GM's global manufacturing head - reports

By Graeme Roberts | 1 March 2019

Amazon has recruited General Motors' outgoing head of global manufacturing, Alicia Boler Davis, according to media reports.

The automaker announced earlier Gerald Johnson would become executive vice president, global manufacturing, replacing Boler Davis, "who is leaving the company to pursue other opportunities". The move is effective 1 April.

Cnbc.com said the Wall Street Journal first reported on Boler Davis joining Amazon, citing sources.

Amazon declined to comment to US media.

The report noted GM had recently initiated a broad restructuring effort to save about US$6bn in costs to the end of 2020 while Amazon recently invested in two automotive tech firms including $700m in electric vehicle makers, Rivian whose all-electric pickup and SUV could pose a direct challenge to established truck makers like GM.

Amazon also invested in a $530m round of funding for Aurora, a startup developing autonomous systems that could rival those from GM Cruise, cnbc.com said.

The company is already moving some cargo in self-driving trucks from a startup called Embargo.

While Amazon is investing in automotive tech, it's not known whether the e-commerce and cloud computing titan will seek to manufacture its own driverless cars, cnbc.com said.

It added Boler Davis' experience could also be useful as Amazon seeks to automate its warehouses and other facilities.

GM's statement said Johnson is currently VP of North American manufacturing and labour relations.

In his new role he will head global manufacturing operations, manufacturing engineering and labour relations organisations, be a member of the GM senior leadership team and report to GM chairman and CEO Mary Barra.