General Motors Co.'s head of global intellectual property rights and former Opel boss, Hans Demant, has left the automaker "to pursue other professional opportunities," Opel said today.
Demant, who turns 60 next month, worked for GM's German division for nearly 40 years and became known as "Mr Opel." He rose to become GM Europe's head of engineering in 2001 and led Opel from 2004 until last year when he was replaced by current Opel/Vauxhall CEO Nick Reilly.
Demant, a shy man who rarely made public appearances, was criticized for remaining in the background during Opel's struggle for survival when parent GM entered its short-term bankruptcy. He is regarded as a gifted engineer but critics said he was not tough enough to cut costs at the money-losing division.
Demant, a German native, started his career at Adam Opel AG in 1972 in product development, later moving to GM's advanced engineering center in Warren, Michigan.
In 1985, he returned to GM's international technical development center at Opel's headquarters in Ruesselsheim, Germany, where led development of Opel's Corsa and Agila small-segment models
Demant was named GM's head of intellectual property rights in January in a newly created position, reporting to Tom Stephens, GM's Detroit-based vice chairman in charge of global product operations.
In an emailed statement to Automotive News Europe today, Opel said Demant is leaving GM, but declined to comment on where he was going.