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Leadership After Lutz


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Leadership After Lutz

Bob Lutz has already retired at least once from an executive position at a car-maker when he left DaimlerChrysler following the merger. When he joined General Motors a few years back to oversee its product development, he was already well past the standard retirement age and by next year he will be 75 years old. According to Just-Auto.com, GM Europe President Carl-Peter Forster has been informed by Chairman Rick Wagoner that he will be taking over Lutz's seat on the board of directors as well as his role leading product development in 2008.

Autoblog

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Carl-Peter Forster

GM Group Vice President

President, GM Europe

Carl-Peter Forster has been GM vice president and president of GM Europe, based in Zurich, Switzerland, since June 2004. Effective January 1, 2006, he was appointed GM group vice president and a member of the GM Automotive Strategy Board and took over the role as the senior-ranking executive for GM's activities in Europe. He has been chairman of the Opel Supervisory Board since June, 2004 and chairman of Saab since April, 2005.

Forster was born in London, U.K., on May 9, 1954 and raised in London, Bonn, and Athens. He holds a diploma in economics from Bonn University and a degree in aviation and space technology from Munich Technical University.

Forster started his career in 1982 as a consultant for McKinsey & Company in Munich. In 1986, he joined BMW where he held various leadership positions before becoming managing director of BMW South Africa in 1996 and the board member responsible for all vehicle development projects in 1999.

Prior to being appointed president of GM Europe and chairman of the Opel Supervisory Board, Forster was chairman and managing director of Adam Opel from April 2001. In his three years in that position, Forster initiated far-reaching restructuring programs and a major product offensive focusing on innovative design and industry-leading build quality.

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Guest YellowJacket894

Since Lutz has made such a difference for GM I fear his successor will f@#k things up.

That's what I'm feeling right now as well. Lutz has helped in turning GM around a lot and made lots of progress in a short amount of time. Like I said, I don't want Lutz's replacement to start keeping models around for ten-plus years, let the product and reputation of that product stagnate and spoil, and when the product is finally replaced, it's sub-par and only advances the last model by an inch.

Forster sounds like he might do a good job. But, then again, Saab hasn't been doing all that hot. And Opel, at one point, wasn't doing too great, either. I'm feeling uneasy about this guy to be honest.

Edited by YellowJacket894
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Does he like to Carl or Peter or just Pete?

No really I expect much of Lutz's influence to still be with GM for 4-5 years after he moves on. It took 5 years to see what he was working on to start to it is only fair to give him credit for the 5 years after.

I also suspect he my be retained as an adviser or consultant on some projects that he has started. I don't see him baking in the Florida sun doing nothing auto related.

I also suspect he may have helped in picking the person to replace him. So we may be in good hands as long as this guy does not make his own DR Z like comercials.

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Whenever Lutz retires, I think./hope he has instilled the right kind of culture that should last a while after his departure. And while he might not be a full-time VP/board member, I wouldn't be surprised if he was kept on as a consultant.

To totally butcher an old saying, You can take the guy out of the auto industry, but you can't take the auto industry out of the guy.

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Well, then this product "renaissance" has been the biggest coincidence in GM corporate history. I don't care if Lutz only got coffee for the real guys who did the work - just having his name around has done something! Of course we know he didn't actually design the vehicles himself!

The real challenge with what has happened in the last two or three years is to see the effect starting to hit the bottom line, or at least the market share drop! As we have discussed here, despite GM arguably putting out some of the best product in its history, the goal posts have moved once again. The real test will be how well the Malibu is received in the market, whether the RWD Impala is a hit and (perhaps most important of all) the upcoming Cobalt replacement. Those will be Lutz's true legacy.

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Lutz's contribution to GM has been greatly exagerated in the press. If anything, he may have stiffled creativity because of his own overblown design opinion.

Or decontenting. Not to say he isn't a great man and a great leader with incredible passion for the position, but let's not forget the stupidity of removing standard equipment to save a few bucks. The fact that the 2005 LaCrosse CX had optional ABS was a tremendous insult to the brand.

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Well, then this product "renaissance" has been the biggest coincidence in GM corporate history. I don't care if Lutz only got coffee for the real guys who did the work - just having his name around has done something! Of course we know he didn't actually design the vehicles himself!

The real challenge with what has happened in the last two or three years is to see the effect starting to hit the bottom line, or at least the market share drop! As we have discussed here, despite GM arguably putting out some of the best product in its history, the goal posts have moved once again. The real test will be how well the Malibu is received in the market, whether the RWD Impala is a hit and (perhaps most important of all) the upcoming Cobalt replacement. Those will be Lutz's true legacy.

****The question people posed is what will happen to GM when Lutz goes? The answer is as I stated above. Lutz for the most part - good or bad is a spokesman and his contribution is spotty and overblown. Therefore when Lutz goes nothing substative should change and if anything should get better because there will not be one individual to override Ed Welburn and John Smith.

As far as the product "renaissance" you speak of, that is still open for debate and much of the product coming out today was well timed prior to Lutz's arrival.

Edited by evok
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Personally, I opposed the decontenting concept, but the ugly truth is that nobody cared. I remember when we got the news about the 2003 models all having ABS stripped out of them and at the time I inwardly cringed. We had the odd person coming out of a 2000 Malibu or Cavalier lease who would bring it up, but for the most part, nobody cared.

The standard Stabilitrak in the Intrigue was another issue. People actually argued that it was a bad thing to have it. I applaud GM for trying to take the high road from '93 to '03, but the truth is most customers didn't give a $h!. And if you are the only manufacturer doing it - even with a 30 share of the market, you can't swim upstream forever.

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As far as the product "renaissance" you speak of, that is still open for debate and much of the product coming out today was well timed prior to Lutz's arrival.

Now we get this???

After 3 years of hearing "Wait 'til 2008!" and "Lutz will have an impact in 2008"

Not to count a heavy dose of pessimism about what appear to be game changing products.

Glad I'm not in the fan club anymore.

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wasn't it lutz who spearheaded the arts & science direction of cadillac and the creation of Solstice? Those are to pretty defining initiatives that has helped in GM's turnaround aren't they?

Well before the Lutz bashers and lovers get into to much of a tizzy. Autoblog who reeported this yesterday stands corrected as now claims Lutz is not going anywhere.

Until GM or Max Bob says it himself don't get too excited.

No he did not start the arts and science styling. But he is cleaning it up with cars like the 08 CTS. Also he is the main pusher of getting GM to put much better interior in their car. The bigger tire and better fender to wheel clearance is part of his insite he lays on his design staff it is his trade mark.

It is the little things that change a cars look and appearance. Thes detail can change a car from looking like a rental fleet base car to a high price car of quality. Things like this were changed on Lutz's watch and all contribute to the public preception of GM cars.

Take the Saturn Aura vs G6. They are on the same platform but the Aura has people raving over it vs the G6 had the details that were mostly in place before Bob.

Bob is not going to save GM on his own and yes they can find some to replace him when the time comes. But he should get some credit as he has contributed well to GM and they are much better off with him than if he never came.

Right now GM has a lot of good tallented people in place to carry the moment they have now.

Edited by hyperv6
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