• Feb 9, 2009
Bob Lutz has published a post on General Motors' Fast Lane blog in the wake of this morning's announcement that he will step down as Vice Chairman – Global Product Development on April 1. Lutz will be replaced by Tom Stephens and spend the remainder of the year facilitating that transition and acting as senior advisor to CEO Rick Wagoner. When the sun sets on 2009, however, Lutz will be off the payroll and probably get a pension check just like every other GM retiree.

In his post, Lutz praises his colleagues at GM and confirms that he will not be around to see development of the Volt series hybrid through to fruition, but that by the time he leaves it will be "well on its way to launch" and in capable hands.

The real question that Lutz' retirement raises is what effect his absence will have on his former employer. That question is even more difficult to answer considering the jury is still out on what effect he's had since joining GM back in 2002. No one can argue that GM's product line today is, for the most part, vastly superior to what the automaker offered before his arrival, with vehicles like the Cadillac CTS, Chevy Malibu, Buick Enclave and others being critical, if not sales, successes. Other products during the Lutz era like the importation of the Holden Monaro as the Pontiac GTO and the Commodore as the G8, and the Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky, haven't worked as well to improve their brands' image as they were supposed to. Regardless, GM will surely miss Maximum Bob as a publicly visible executive who was always willing to wave his pom poms for the company, though might not miss his habit of creating sensational sound bites when speaking with the media.

[Source: GM Fast Lane Blog | Photo by JEFF HAYNES/AFP/Getty]


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  • 19 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Bob Lutz and the oil companies he supported are a crock of sh*t!
      • 5 Years Ago
      A lot of angry people on this thread. Look, don't be too eager to push him out. The next guy could do worse.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Thats was I was thinkin
      • 5 Years Ago
      Hopefully next guy in wouldn't say "we kept buidling'em, coz they kept buying'em".

      Hopefully he will have product diversification in mind unlike minimum Nutz.

      So glad, he is out of product development.

      • 5 Years Ago
      Bob has moved GM in a direction they should have started in 15 years before. The only thing he did wrong is show up late.

      He is the one that came in and asked "Why can't GM do 3mm body gaps?" only to hear no body said to do it.

      Bob took the people GM had and empowered them. The Ecotech Tubos, new V HV line with DI and LS7's are examples of his empowerment to the powertrain division. The Malibu is the first Chevy that is the equal of the Camry or Accord.

      Bob took the Delta platform and let them do a HHR that everyone said was too late and has produced over 100,000 sales each of the last 3 years. The HHR is one model few pay attention to but it is helpping pay some of the biulls the other cars did not.

      Bob came in with limited funds and was given the task to revamp a company that has too many models.

      While the GTO may have not looked great it really did ok for GM as they had so little invested and made enough to cover their cost while filling a gap in the line up that was left to Bob when he came in.

      The Kappas did fine too. They sell in numbers as well as the Miata as the 2 seater class is not a high volume class. They did bring people into the show rooms. But the problem was Bob weas given a Damaged Pontiac and little time or money to fix them.

      While Bob may not walk on water he has done a as good of a job as possible working with what was given to him. Remember he was not calling all the shots and had to fight for what he want many times.

      Bobs biggest error is how at times he over spoke at times.

      The long or short of it is GM is better off for him being their and I hope many of the people he empowered are still able to do what needs to be done.

      A car company needs to have some real car people calling some of the shots and that is what Bob did and I hope GM has learned form it.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I agree with the post. He showed GM a new direction, and I hope they can carry on with cars as good as their recent entries.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Agreed. Good post.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I guess I can only agree also.
      • 5 Years Ago
      The only credible thing Bob ever did at GM was place the company emphasis back on design inside and out for it's products, with mixed results.

      Virtually everything else he championed from importing cars from GM's subsidaries to redefining GM's brands to "me-too" foreign brands has failed miserably and did everything to even further erode brand image and confidence in GM's management.

      Pontiac as a BMW alternative. Buick as a Lexus alternative. Saturn moving upmarket to occupy the place held by Oldsmobile and adopting Opel's styling language. Cadillac with meaningless alphabet soup names. Focus the lion's share of development money away from GM's core brand, Chevrolet to waste on GM's weak brands over the past ten years.

      Epic fail on many fronts.

      It's obvious Lutz had no idea nor did he care about heritage and purpose of each GM brand. History was flushed down the toilet and nearly everyone of them by jettisoning names each was traditionally known for and replacing them with names that were unknown and stood for nothing. Styling each brand was known for was also erased and replaced with pretty much what was there before or what didn't fit the image.

      GM continues to be a pointless morass of too many brands and too many models fighting each other for the same customers (and losing them totally) in the same spaces. A ghost company that is only surviving on an IV drip of everyone's hard earned tax money when it should be in bankruptcy right now and reorganizing or going out of existince.

      It's all coming to an end, sooner rather than later. Lutz is getting out with his golden parachute while he can, before Obama comes in and caps salaries and takes them away I'm sure.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Well it is obvious the Japanese car enthusiasts are out today.
      I guess Lutz should have recommended that GM mimic the Japanese
      who have not had an original design idea yet.
      Lexus gets a copy of a Mercedes out almost before Mercedes can make a production model. Honda does its best to copy BMW. Nissian used to copy BMW (only cheaper, in the worst sense of the word). on and on...
      Really look at GM cars before and after Lutz and you will see what he did to improve the brand....even your favorite Toyota is having trouble selling cars today.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I totally agree with Bob H. Lutz changed all the GM brands around and brought some cool things to the market.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Steve he has, Solstice is gorgeous.......but Sky is 10x that. Love those two cars.

        The thing about Bob is that 90% of the cars did not make money and failed miserably in terms of sales.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I'm wondering if GM will release the Volt they promised on time. If not, I'm wondering if Lutz knows this and that's why he's retiring. I thought the Volt's promises were very aggressive considering the timeline involved, and that Lutz basically equated GM's success on the Volt's success.

      If the Volt were to fail for any reason (missed deadline, or even worse, deadline met but the car is horrible), It would make Lutz look really really bad. Given those stakes, I'd quit early too.

      • 5 Years Ago
      Why doesn't Autoblog ask him to write once a week, like John McElroy. This will give Bob access to grass roots auto people and will give Autoblog a guy who will attract a lot of attention.

      Anyone want's Bob?
      • 5 Years Ago
      One thing people should also be grateful to him for is the C6 Corvette - which he sent back to the drawing board, producing the first iteration, which was up to par with all competitors, at the standard low Corvette price.

      He was to a large extent a car guy and the products reflected that. Some have been less fortunate than others and a lot of things he had no influence over. The Opels coming to Saturn were definitely competitive but the brand was fairly dead, so the customers were not drawn in to even give them a try to the extent they should have been. For Pontiac the GTO did not cost the world to re-engineer for the US but was somewhat overshadowed by the Mustang, which had it beaten from a design / desirability point of view. The Kappa platform cars have horrible packaging (almost no luggage space) and are really just a tad too dull for their own good. The G8 is OK but then again it had slightly unfortunate timing and the hopes for it's niche were set too high, as they in fact were for many of the vehicles reaching the road under him.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Bob i am sorry, but this is NOT a job well done.

      Failed vehicles, failed brand name, and failed ideas.
        • 5 Years Ago
        You can't be serious! Ever since Mr. Bob Lutz stepped in as vice Chairman and carguru for GM their products have been nothing short of outstanding in terms of quality, design, and engineering. You Sir need to get your head screwed on properly.
        • 5 Years Ago
        You're not serious.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Despite what people might say about him and what other things he may have said in the past, he has been a key player in the steady introduction of well-built, high-quality, reliable GM products over the last few years. I wish him luck through retirement.
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