FRANKFURT – There are interesting moves under way within General Motors Corp.’s design staff as the countdown to the announcement of Wayne Cherry's successor heads into its last months.

Wayne Cherry, surrounded by seven Eyes on Design awards GM won at this year’s Detroit auto show.

Cherry, who should have retired last September, postponed his departure by a year to give GM more time to find the right person.

Two of the front line candidates have just swapped jobs. Anne Asensio, the former Renault SA designer, exchanges her position as head of interiors with Dave Rand, the former boss of advanced design.

Says one insider: "This could mean the improvement in interior (quality) isn't happening quickly enough, or advanced isn't doing the job." On the other hand, it also could indicate GM wants to immerse Asensio and Rand, if even for a few months, in the alternate discipline.

Internally, other contenders include Brian Nesbitt (who may seem too young and inexperienced) and Ed Wellburn (too much the corporate politician for some).

In 2001, GM talked to most of the world's big-name designers and concluded that the right person for the job should be American so as to have an innate knowledge of GM's many brands.

Or has Martin Smith, only a year into his position as Adam Opel AG’s design boss, done enough to deserve a chance?

Bob Lutz, GM design guru, already has chosen Cherry's heir but says only: "It's six or seven months before we name Wayne's successor, and he'll be here until the end of the year to ensure a smooth changeover."