Larry Burns

Director, Roundtable on Sustainable Mobility

Earth Institute

On October 1, 2009, Larry Burns completed a distinguished career with General Motors, serving as corporate vice president of Research & Development and Strategic Planning. In this role, he oversaw GM's advanced technology, innovation programs, and corporate strategy. He also served on GM's top decision-making bodies for global operations and products.

In addition to driving innovation into today's vehicles, Burns led GM's development of a new automotive "DNA" that marries electrically driven and "connected vehicle" technologies. The goal is to realize sustainable personal mobility with smart vehicles that are aspirational and affordable.

Burns has been a major voice for the "reinvention" of the automobile and the diversification of transportation energy. Within GM, he personally championed vehicle electrification, "connected" vehicles, fuel cells, biofuels, advanced batteries, autonomous driving, and a series of innovative concept vehicles. He has been a leading advocate for design and technology innovation focused on the total customer experience and the application of operations research.

Burns began his career as a member of the Research & Development 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/manufacturing/ business planning. In May 1998, he was named a corporate vice president of General Motors, with responsibility for R&D and Planning.

Burns holds a Ph.D. in civil engineering from the University of California at Berkeley, where he is a member of the Advisory Council for its Institute of Transportation Studies. He earned his master's degree in engineering and public policy from the University of Michigan (U-M) and his bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from General Motors Institute (now Kettering University).

Burns is on the External Advisory Board for the University of Michigan's Michigan Memorial Phoenix Energy Institute and serves as the Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Midwest Research Institute. As GM R&D vice president, he was a member of the Executive Steering Committees of the USCAR Operating Council and the FreedomCAR &Fuel Partnership. He also served on the board of U-M's Automotive Research Center.

Burns recently completed a book (with Professor William J. Mitchell, MIT, and Christopher E. Borroni-Bird, General Motors) entitled Reinventing the Automobile: Personal Urban Mobility for the 21st Century (MIT Press, 2010).

Focus: Business, Energy, Environment, Innovation, Sustainability, Technology, Transportation, United States, Americas, Global

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Last Updated: Aug 12, 2010

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