Defying its trend of replacing division chiefs from traditional backgrounds with marketing savvy executives, General Motors Corp. names Annette Clayton as president of Saturn Corp.

Ms. Clayton, who has held several manufacturing and engineering positions since joining GM in 1983, replaces Cynthia M. Trudell who left March 29 for a position with Brunswick Corp.'s Sea Ray Group (see Ward's Automotive Reports — April 2, '01, p.5).

Ms. Trudell also spent her GM career in manufacturing jobs. There was some speculation GM might fill the Saturn opening with a marketing guru, as it has at other major U.S. divisions since 1999.

Saturn is the only U.S. division with production exclusivity for its entire lineup. It is responsible for the Spring Hill, TN, and Wilmington, DE, assembly plants and has a unique relationship with the United Auto Workers union. “That was a critical factor in the decision making process,” says a GM spokesman.

Ms. Clayton, 37, joined GM as a student with the Moraine, OH, assembly plant in 1983 and by 1999 was plant manager at GM's Oshawa, Ont., truck assembly plant. Her most recent assignment was implementation of GM's global manufacturing system.

She will oversee the launch of four new products in four years.