Anne Asensio

Designer -- General Motors Corp. -- France

She made such a splash in Europe with her auto designs that General Motors Corp. has just hired her away. Anne Asensio, 37, is the woman behind Renault's Megane Scenic compact minivan. The rounded, high-topped model was voted European Car of the Year in 1997 by the Continent's car journalists, and it has been a huge moneymaker for the French company. Asensio designed the concept car that became the top-selling Megane Scenic back in 1990. She was just starting work on the next generation of Meganes when she got the call from GM.

Asensio will inject European style and create new, distinctive identities for GM's Chevrolet, Buick, Saturn, Oldsmobile, Cadillac, and GMC models. "I'm ready for a change, for the adventure of it," says Asensio, who is eager to try out her design talents on bigger American vehicles.

GM has had its eye on Asensio for years. The daughter of a fashion designer and an engineer, she studied in the mid-1980s at the Center for Creative Studies in Detroit, which has a prominent automotive design program. She was courted by GM in 1987, but Asensio had already promised to work for Renault. There she rose rapidly. Indeed, before her move, she was tipped to become the successor of Renault Chief Designer Patrick Le Quement. Watch for her touch in U.S. showrooms.

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