From muscle car to all-electric car.
For those who are concerned, perhaps rightly so, that future all-electric vehicles will not be fun to drive have reason to relax, at least regarding GM’s EVs. According to Car and Driver, Al Oppenheiser, chief engineer of the Chevrolet Camaro program for the past decade, has been reassigned to the automaker’s electric vehicle group. His replacement as Camaro chief engineer will be Mark Dickens, currently executive director of Performance Variants, Parts, Accessories, and Motorsport Engineering. Oppenheiser, the genius behind both the fifth and sixth generation Camaro programs, has rightly earned his place in Camaro history.
After all, he was also responsible for the Camaro Z/28 and ZL1. The Camaro community, outside of GM, has enormous respect for him as well. But why is Oppenheiser moving to a new department that, seemingly, is the exact opposite of what’s been doing so well for so long? Because GM wants to get electrification right. It realized it needs to have its very best working on current and future projects. GM spokesman Michael Albano told C/D that Oppenheiser will remain a chief engineer.
“We have launched the final variant of this generation of Camaro, so the time is right for him to make a change," Albano said. But wait a minute? Does Oppenheiser’s new gig mean a Camaro EV is in the works? What about another all-electric sports car?
At this stage, GM refuses to go into specifics, though it has not “ruled out in the future that we (could) have performance cars that are electrified.” In fact, Oppenheiser will not work on any specific vehicle but rather a range of EVs with various body styles. Because of Oppenheiser’s well-deserved reputation and status with the Camaro program, GM expects more great things from him in his new gig.
“Now he’s moving to an area where we can’t afford not to deliver the right kind of vehicle to customers,” Albano added. Oppenheiser will begin work in his new job early next year.