New GM Canada boss trades in international experience for top job in Oshawa

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Published February 7, 2024 at 2:46 pm

A world traveller is putting down roots in Oshawa after General Motors Canada named Kristian Aquilina as the new president and managing director.

Aquilina didn’t have far to go for this promotion as he was already in Oshawa as vice president, vehicle sales, service and marketing. His boss remains the same too, as outgoing GM Canada president Marissa West – ranked the #1 EV entrepreneur in Canada by Macleans magazine last year – is headed back to Detroit as the senior vice president and president, GM North America.

But prior to his move to Oshawa in 2023, Aquilina served as the managing director of Cadillac International Operations and Cadillac Middle East. And before that he was chair and managing director for GM Holden in Australia and New Zealand.

GM Canada President Kristian Aquilina

He brought all that international experience to GM Canada last year and helped take the company to the top spot in the industry in total market share and total sales for 2023 – the first time since 2009.

Aquilina takes over at GM Canada at a “pivotal time of growth and opportunity,” as the industry prepares for an all-electric future and the company continues to build on its recent investments in Canadian manufacturing, EV supply chain and software development work.

“It’s an exciting time to step into the role of president and managing director as GM Canada enters 2024 with incredible growth across the entire business,” he said. “I look forward to collaborating with our employees, our strong network of Canadian dealers and our many other community and industry partners across the country. Together, we’ll unleash even more opportunities for GM Canada to lead during this period of historic transformation.”

GM dealers in Canada dealers delivered 263,084 vehicles in 2023, including 65,735 vehicles in the fourth quarter, up 15.4 per cent and 18 per cent, respectively. The company’s share of the market 15 per cent, up more than half a point from 2022.

Total sales of full-size trucks jumped 7.1 per cent, including the Oshawa-made Chevrolet Silverado.

“After a couple of years of supply chain challenges, we substantially increased vehicle inventory in 2023,” Aquilino said, adding that the company expects to “build on that momentum” in 2024.

Recent new investments at Oshawa Assembly, St. Catharines Propulsion Plant and CAMI Assembly are helping drive sales, he said, adding that the Canadian Technical Centre in Oshawa continues to be a “hotbed of innovation” in software, R&D and advanced vehicle testing.

“We’ve also just begun to tap into the potential for Canada in the emerging raw mineral and EV battery supply chain, beginning with the new Ultium CAM processing facility in Bécancour, Quebec.”

“There’s no doubt the road ahead will continue to bring challenges, but … I’ve seen first-hand the agility and tenacity of the GM Canada team and our strong Canadian dealer network. To have the opportunity to continue this work with the entire GM Canada team is a dream come true.”

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