NINETY EIGHT REGENCY

GM's Lutz to retire May 1, sources say

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GM's Lutz to retire May 1, sources say

March 3, 2010 - 1:12 pm ET

Bob Lutz is credited with revitalizing GM's product development efforts after being hired by former GM CEO Rick Wagoner in 2001.

DETROIT (Reuters) -- General Motors Co. Vice Chairman Bob Lutz plans to retire from the automaker effective May 1, people briefed on the plans said.

Lutz, 78, had been serving as a senior adviser to GM Chairman and CEO Ed Whitacre after shelving retirement plans to take charge of the automaker's marketing after it emerged from bankruptcy in July 2009.

An outspoken executive who both challenged global warming and championed GM's all-electric Volt, Lutz is credited with revitalizing GM's product development efforts after being hired by former GM CEO Rick Wagoner in 2001.

Read more: http://www.autonews.com/article/20100303/RETAIL03/100309942/1216#ixzz0h8l6BjTN

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With Lutz you never know for sure.

But who could fault the guy?

With Ruess taking command, I am less concerned about a post-Lutz GM.

If true, then a hearty "Thanks!" and "Good luck!" to Uncle Bob.

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This is going to be the biggest test for New GM, building and selling great cars without Bob Lutz constantly pushing for better product.

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Lutz has been more of a liability now that he is further away from the designing of the cars. Marketing? Really? I suppose if you hold the "there is no such thing as bad press" mantra, having Lutz walk around and shoot his mouth off was a great marketing move. I think Reuss being Prez of North America is about as good of a replacement as anyone could hope for.

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Bob Lutz to Retire May 1

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DETROIT – General Motors Vice Chairman Robert A. Lutz will retire effective May 1, 2010, capping a 47-year career in the global auto industry that included senior leadership positions at four of the world’s leading automakers.

Lutz, 78, rejoined GM September 1, 2001, as the head of product development, and has led the company’s resurgence in developing great cars and trucks. He also worked at BMW, Chrysler and Ford.

“The influence Bob Lutz has had on GM’s commitment to design, build and sell the world’s best vehicles will last for years to come,” GM CEO and Chairman Ed Whitacre said. “I, along with many other men and women in GM and throughout the industry, have greatly benefited from his passion, wisdom and guidance.”

Lutz said he decided to retire now in part because hot-selling vehicles like the Buick LaCrosse, Cadillac SRX, GMC Terrain, Chevrolet Equinox and Chevrolet Camaro, along with the growing strength of GM’s four brands, prove that a product-focused mindset inside the company is in place for the long term.

“I can confidently say that the job I came here to do more than nine years ago is now complete – the team I have been fortunate to lead has far exceeded my expectations,” Lutz said. “Our product lineup is as strong as it has been in GM’s history. The perception of our products and brands is beginning to catch up with reality. And most importantly, the absolute commitment to being a product-driven company is engrained throughout the organization – from the top down – and I am confident that, under Ed Whitacre’s leadership, the straightforward, singular focus on product will endure.”

Lutz, a GM vice chairman, was appointed senior advisor in December 2009 and will continue to provide guidance on design and key product initiatives until he retires May 1.

Note: Photos, video, and a biography of Bob Lutz are available at the GM media website: http://media.gm.com.

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Anyone notice more former "Holden" people are moving up in the GM ranks and getting the positions?

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Anyone notice more former "Holden" people are moving up in the GM ranks and getting the positions?

It's the only reason that I still believe at all.

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I am far less smitten with Maximum Bob than I was a few years ago, so I'm not too sad that he's finally walking into the sunset. That said, he certainly was a rare breed and definitely was a positive force for GM.

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Lutz was the lone soldier at the top of GM that understood how important it was to build "must have" cars when he came to the company.

He kept the dream alive.

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Lutz knows now is the time for him to leave. He has debriefed all the new people in power with everything he has. He is not in product anymore and I think that bugs him a bit too.

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I have thought his time was coming to a close whem Mark Ruess arrived. I could see Mark being given charge of many of the things Bob had done and wondered how long it would take for Mark to get the Product calls and Marketing calls Bob has and and was doing.

I had just hoped Bob was leaving on his own accord and not forced out like the others as he did not deserve to get the boot.

A year ago I would have thought something like this to end GM's future good product but with Mark here I feel he has the right ideas as long as he can be as strong willed and compassionate as Bob was on the little things that GM lacked for so long.

The look and feel of a car can betray the cost and of the vehicle. If you can make a car look and feel $10,000 more than it is that brings the impression of value to the brand. That is what I saw in the Lacrosse I saw Saturday and the many other new cars done under Bob.

All that is said and done Bob did do more positive things for GM than anyone since Delorean. I just wish and hope Mark can and will continue the things Bob started and not let anyone else stop him. It is time for the Board to enable the real people who run GM to really run it.

Lets face it his time was coming to an end soon anyways and it was time to make sure those who would take over were in place when he did leave. I hope those in place have all taken a little of Bobs ideas and applied them to their own lines of thought.

Edited by hyperv6
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I think Bob wanted to leave a while ago but felt that he couldn't.....not with GM in the state it was in.... it would have tarnished his legacy.

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I also would like to think Ruess could be the new Lutz and I wish Lutz could take the rains at Cadillac at least for a while. Cadillac needs a passionate head with a love of RWD and a proper understanding of the international luxury market. I hate to see him go!

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GM's Lutz retiring: 'It really is time to move on'

Robert Snell / The Detroit News

General Motors Co. Vice Chairman Bob Lutz, an industry icon who has helped lead a product renaissance at the Detroit automaker, is retiring May 1, the highest-profile departure since Chief Executive Fritz Henderson's forced resignation in December.

Lutz, 78, has complained recently about below-market compensation for GM's top executives, and his departure comes amid a sweeping shake-up within the automaker's North American operations.

"At some point you have to do something new," Lutz told a group of reporters today at a restaurant outside Geneva, Switzerland, on the sidelines of the Geneva Motor Show. "It really is time to move on. Early retirement is finally here at age 78."

Lutz has held senior positions at each of the Detroit Three automakers and has overseen some of the industry's most daring vehicles, from the Dodge Viper sports car to the Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric car, scheduled to debut later this year.

"The influence Bob Lutz has had on GM's commitment to design, build and sell the world's best vehicles will last for years to come," said GM CEO and Chairman Ed Whitacre Jr. "I, along with many other men and women in GM and throughout the industry, have greatly benefited from his passion, wisdom and guidance."

The announcement comes a day after a shake-up of GM's management in North America..

"I cannot imagine anybody wanting to force out Bob Lutz," said analyst Jim Hall of 2953 Analytics in Birmingham. "He brought product conscience, which hasn't lived at General Motors for decades."

It's unclear whether the departure will hurt GM's efforts to build vehicles that appeal to customers.

"We'll know that in five to seven years," Hall said.

Last month, Lutz told The Detroit News that GM's top 25 senior executives, whose pay packages are being reviewed by the Treasury Department, were "way, way, way" underpaid.

His comments came as Treasury officials review 2010 pay for GM executives, whose salaries must be approved by the agency's pay czar, Ken Feinberg. That's because GM is among companies that received billions in federal money under the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program.

"The bottom line is General Motors got itself in that position because it didn't have people like Lutz at the wheel earlier," Hall said.

Since 2001, Lutz has helped GM draw rave reviews for products such as the Pontiac Solstice, a two-seat roadster unveiled in 2005. The Chevrolet Silverado full-size pickup won Truck of the Year and the Saturn Aura midsize sedan took the top prize for cars at the 2007 North American International Auto Show.

Lutz has said the Cadillac CTS and Buick LaCrosse are evidence of GM's design renaissance.

Lutz initially announced his retirement from GM in February 2009, complaining about government oversight attached to billions in federal aid that kept GM afloat.

He later chose to stay with the company, heading the marketing and communications department. But his continued employment at GM drew criticism from bailout and GM critics who pointed to Lutz as evidence that the automaker was resistant to change.

In December, Whitacre named Lutz a special adviser.

That month, hours after Henderson's forced resignation, Lutz was noncommittal about his future at GM.

"Whether I stay or go is always a board decision," he said.

Lutz also said at the time he would stay at GM as long as he felt his input was welcome and that he was making an impact. He wasn't working because he needed the money, he said.

From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20100303/AUTO01/3030415/1148/auto01/GM-s-Lutz-retiring---It-really-is-time-to-move-on-#ixzz0hAEhpzFV

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I think Bob wanted to leave a while ago but felt that he couldn't.....not with GM in the state it was in.... it would have tarnished his legacy.

+1

And still leave a few fun casr for us.....

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I've got a feeling this may have something to do with big and and the direction he is taking the company.

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Job done, Lutz to retire

Focus on product will endure, GM vice chairman says

BY TIM HIGGINS

FREE PRESS BUSINESS WRITER

Automotive industry icon Bob Lutz didn't fit at Ed Whitacre's new General Motors.

Lutz, an outspoken car guy who had helped breathe new life into GM's product lineup, announced Wednesday that he plans to retire May 1.

It's just the latest in a string of management shake-ups since Whitacre became chief executive in December, but Lutz is among the last high-level holdovers from GM prior to bankruptcy last summer.

His style differed from Whitacre, who is known to lay out his objectives to senior leaders and expect them to stay within their subject areas. Lutz had an opinion on just about all aspects of the business. At the Detroit auto show, for example, he spoke publicly about his views on production issues and an upcoming vehicle that had not been officially announced.

A year ago, Lutz was in charge of global product development. Under Whitacre, he had become an adviser with a much smaller staff.

"I think he felt underappreciated," said Gerald Meyers, a business professor at the University of Michigan. "He's a freewheeling guy in a highly disciplined situation."

In December, after Fritz Henderson resigned as CEO, Lutz seemed to say that if he didn't feel wanted, he would leave. "I don't see that happening, frankly, but it's nice to know that one always has that option," he said at the time.

Lutz: GM is product focused

Popular new vehicles from General Motors, such as the Buick LaCrosse and Chevrolet Camaro, prove that a product-focused mind-set has been set in place at the automaker, Lutz said Wednesday as part of his retirement announcement.

"I can confidently say that the job I came here to do more than nine years ago is now complete -- the team I have been fortunate to lead has far exceeded my expectations," Lutz said. "Our product lineup is as strong as it has been in GM's history. The perception of our products and brands is beginning to catch up with reality. And most importantly, the absolute commitment to being a product-driven company is ingrained throughout the organization -- from the top down -- and I am confident that, under Ed Whitacre's leadership, the straightforward, singular focus on product will endure."

Lutz had planned to make the announcement today but news of his departure spread from Geneva, Switzerland, where he was attending the auto show, to Detroit faster than any of the hot cars he developed over his long career at GM, Chrysler and Ford.

"The influence Bob Lutz has had on GM's commitment to design, build and sell the world's best vehicles will last for years to come," Whitacre said. "I, along with many other men and women in GM and throughout the industry, have greatly benefited from his passion, wisdom and guidance."

There was a time when Lutz was considered the outsider and he was the one pushing for change at GM. That was nearly a decade ago and before GM's bankruptcy last summer that ushered in government ownership and Whitacre.

"Mr. Lutz was an outsider but he was the old-line automotive guy, who liked to run his own show ... and had considerably more power under (former CEO Fritz) Henderson. When Mr. Whitacre came on board, that power was gradually reeled in," said Sheldon Stone, a restructuring expert at Amherst Partners.

It will be Lutz's second attempt to retire from GM.

Roughly a year ago, Lutz, now 78, announced plans to leave at the end of 2009. But those plans were shelved as GM emerged from bankruptcy in July and he was given a new assignment as vice chairman of marketing.

Then in December, Whitacre, having just assumed the role of CEO, announced that Lutz would be an adviser to him.

Lutz's outspoken style seemed at odds with Whitacre. As the new CEO reorganized the company, Lutz's place became unclear.

Many in Detroit credit Lutz for turning around GM's product lineup by pushing aside bean counters and restoring emphasis on quality and design. He was beloved by many inside GM who credit him for launching their careers.

Others, however, looked at his views on global warming -- he called it a crock -- and other outspoken comments as evidence that he was part of an old Detroit culture that needed to evolve to a modern era.

However, he also championed development of the Chevrolet Volt, an electric-drive car that's slated to hit the market later this year and could help improve GM's image.

In February 2009, when he announced his first plan to retire, Lutz told the Free Press he was looking forward to spending time with his family. "I'm going to be 77. Ninety years old is only 13 years away. You start thinking, 'Wait a minute, if I don't retire soon, when the heck am I going to start going on motorcycle trips and visiting my daughter in Chicago and driving to Florida ... as opposed to being constantly on airplanes?' " Lutz said at the time.

link:

http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100304/BUSINESS01/3040414/1331/Job-done-Lutz-to-retire&template=fullarticle

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GM’s Lutz to retire – finally

Going: GM vice-chairman Bob Lutz is set to make another attempt to retire, this time on May 1.

Job done at GM, Bob Lutz set to drive off into the sunset in belated retirement

4 March 2010

By RON HAMMERTON

BOB LUTZ, the Swiss-born former US Marine pilot and 47-year veteran of the motor industry who postponed his retirement last year to help guide General Motors out of bankruptcy, is finally set to hand back the keys to GM’s product development operations.

Coincidentally, GM vice-chairman Mr Lutz, a youthful 78, was back in Switzerland for the Geneva motor show last night when GM announced he would retire on May 1, ending a career that took him full circle through four motor companies – GM, Ford, BMW, Chrysler and back to GM – with a side excursion to battery-maker Exide.

On the way, he became a champion of Australia’s GM Holden, lauding its rear-drive cars and promoting Holden export programs to North America for products such as the Pontiac GTO (Monaro) and Pontiac G8 (Commodore).

He visited Australia several times in his position as GM’s product development leader, once telling Holden dealers that his love affair with the Australian product started when he borrowed a Holden-made Chevrolet Caprice SS (a Middle Eastern export model based on the Holden Caprice) that was under evaluation by engineers in Detroit.

He said the sealer in his enthusiasm for the Holden-made rear-driver came when his wife wanted to keep the car for another week after he took it home for a weekend.

With GM now making headway under chairman Ed Whitacre, former Holden chairman and managing director Mark Reuss and a newly reorganised sales and marketing team in the US, the time is right for Mr Lutz to belatedly head into retirement to play with his private collection of planes, classic cars and motorcycles.

Robert Lutz was born in Zurich, Switzerland, in 1932, the son of a bank director. The family left Europe on the eve of World War 2, when he was seven.

He joined the US Marine Corps as a pilot in 1954, and while he quit full-time service in 1959, he remained an officer in the reserves until 1965. In fact, he has continued flying ever since, most recently in his own jet, a Czech-made Aero Vodochody L-39 fighter trainer.

After graduating from the University of California Berkley with a degree in production management in 1961, followed by an MBA in 1962, Mr Lutz started his motor industry career with GM Europe in 1963.

He switched to BMW in 1971 as executive vice-president of sales, apparently helping to develop one of BMW greatest success stories, the 3 Series.

In 1974, he was picked up by Ford, rising to become chairman of Ford of Europe in the early 1980s, driving the development of the Sierra. His career at Ford took him back to the US where he was put in charge of international operations and then truck operations, with the rank of vice-president, with the Explorer on his list of credits.

In the mid 1980s, he joined the dysfunctional Chrysler in his familiar role as product development executive, overseeing the development of exciting cars such as the Dodge Viper, Plymouth Prowler and Chrysler LH – cars that put sizzle back into Chrysler.

He was promoted by Chrysler to president and then vice-chairman, before making a switch of career, joining Exide Technologies as CEO. His efforts to save the company failed, and Exide filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2002.

Never one to give up, Mr Lutz returned to his old stamping ground at GM, as the head of product development.

Just as he was about to ride off into the sunset in retirement last year, the global financial crisis intervened, bringing GM to the point of collapse. Then GM president Fritz Henderson asked Mr Lutz to stay on to re-shape the GM product line-up in the wake of the culling of Pontiac, Saturn and other brands, appointing him vice-chairman.

An advocate of alternative-fuel vehicles, Mr Lutz is an unapologetic greenhouse skeptic, famously describing global warming as a “crock of $h!”. Instead, he says, his support for vehicles such as GM’s plug-in Volt is driven by the need for the US to be energy self-sufficient.

Announcing the new plan to retire, Mr Whitacre said Mr Lutz’s influence on GM’s commitment to design, build and sell the world’s best vehicles would last for years.

“I, along with many other men and women in GM and throughout the industry, have greatly benefited from his passion, wisdom and guidance,” he said.

Mr Lutz said he decided to retire now in part because his job was done, with GM products now strong and selling well.

“I can confidently say that the job I came here to do more than nine years ago is now complete – the team I have been fortunate to lead has far exceeded my expectations,” he said.

“Our product lineup is as strong as it has been in GM’s history. The perception of our products and brands is beginning to catch up with reality.

“And most importantly, the absolute commitment to being a product-driven company is ingrained throughout the organisation – from the top down – and I am confident that, under Ed Whitacre’s leadership, the straightforward, singular focus on product will endure.”

link:

http://www.goauto.com.au/mellor/mellor.nsf/story2/4ADCC7CAE3A3BC49CA2576DC000208C3

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I've got a feeling this may have something to do with big and and the direction he is taking the company.

I've got a feeling it has more to do with the fact that he is 79 years old and has been wanting to retire for years.

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I don't think losing Lutz is any big deal, it may even help. Lutz's "gotta have" products included the Cobalt, G5, G6, Solstice, Sky, Malibu, CTS, STS, Aura, Astra, etc. A lot of those weren't all that successful. Even the new Malibu, is mediocre and easily outclassed by the Accord, Fusion and new Sonata. Likewise with the CTS, 2600-2900 sales a month isn't even 35,000 a year, and the DTS and STS sales have dried up, so it isn't like Cadillac sedan sales are going elsewhere within the brand.

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I don't think losing Lutz is any big deal, it may even help. Lutz's "gotta have" products included the Cobalt, G5, G6, Solstice, Sky, Malibu, CTS, STS, Aura, Astra, etc. A lot of those weren't all that successful. Even the new Malibu, is mediocre and easily outclassed by the Accord, Fusion and new Sonata. Likewise with the CTS, 2600-2900 sales a month isn't even 35,000 a year, and the DTS and STS sales have dried up, so it isn't like Cadillac sedan sales are going elsewhere within the brand.

You kind of lack on all the facts here.

The Cobalt, G5, G6 first Gen CTS were all pre Lutz cars he inherited. The Aura and Astra were to pug holes in a very poor Ion based Saturn line up.

The Malibu to be fair did well and was only a short term car. It also is the oldest in this class at this point so it will show as being out classed. Go figure they are on the fast track with the new one!

Cadillac is still in need of a lot of work. Just one look at the DTS will tell you that.

Bob did a hell of a lot with a company that could not afford to pay attention. With little development money and no marketing money he made the most of what he had. He wa the macguiver of GM makinging rubys out of crap.

Also factor in the many things he did not get done due to being stopped by the board and others over him at GM.

The fact is no automotive guy is going to hit them all out of the park. Bob did more to get the quality, the feel, the styling and more to a level that GM could at least compete again. He enabled a system of engineers and designers to do what they do best vs the old system the hindered them from doing their job. The panel gaps and new engines will show what he did for them.

Bob opened the door on the talent GM already had and was squandering.

The results of what he did will be seen in the work of those he set free over the next ten years.

I will agree losing Bob now will not be as big of an issue. Now we have a system and people that he opened up and is doing what they can do not just what they are told to do.

The new LS engines and ZR1 engine is what we got when he told drivetrain I have your back now do what you can do. The tight panel gaps and CTS coupe and Camaro are what GM design can do when he told them to design what they could not what they were told to do.

Edited by hyperv6
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Didn't Lutz also send the 05 STS back to the design room because it was too edgy and he wanted a softer, rounder car? The STS tanked due to it's blandness. Stop gap products are another problem, GM has been putting out stop gaps for 20 years or so. Why does Cadillac have stop gaps like the XTS or lame ducks like the current DTS? I know Lutz didn't have a lot to work with, but the 08 Malibu and CTS are class average cars, and those were all Lutz. It isn't like Lutz brought the S-class, 3-series or Accord to GM. One could argue that Chris Bangle had a better career than Lutz, and it isn't like BMW misses him at all.

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SMK, do you realize what utter $h! he had to work with and how difficult it was for him to get ANYTHING accomplished? In the legal world we call what Lutz was capable of doing an "Act of God" as in, nobody could ever do what he did. Think about it, Aztek, super badge jobs on EVERYTHING, bleeding cash like crazy (billions of dollars of cash), yet he still did some things that were pretty damn good.

Looking back in hindsight is always going to make cars look worse or deify them. My 2000 Pontiac Grand Prix, a meh car, but not looking so hot anymore. A 57 Chevrolet, a ugly duck in 1957 and now the holy grail of cars.

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