• Feb 9th 2009 at 12:51PM
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Automotive journalists the world over are saddened and General Motors communications staff are breathing a sigh of relief today: Bob Lutz is retiring. For journalists, the loss of perhaps the most quotable executive since Hank the Duece means they will have to dig a little harder for stories. For the PR staff, it means a little less scrambling to spin the story whenever Lutz goes off script. Lutz has been Vice Chairman for Global Product Development at GM since 2001. Over his 45-year automotive career, Lutz has worked at Opel, BMW, Ford and Chrysler as well as a stint running Exide batteries.
During his current stint at General Motors, Lutz has been a vocal champion for the newest generation of products ranging from the Cadillac CTS to the Chevrolet Volt. Lutz has also made himself a target as one of the executives behind the decision to kill the EV1 and his comments about man-made global warming being "a crock of ..."

As of April 1, Lutz will move to a senior advisor role and Tom Stephens will move over running global powertrain operations to overseeing all of product development. Lutz will officially leave GM at the end of the year. Thanks to everyone who sent this in.

[Source: General Motors]

Bob Lutz moves to Senior Advisor Role; Will Retire at End of 2009; Tom Stephens Becomes Vice Chairman - Global Product Development

DETROIT – GM Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner today announced that Robert A. Lutz, GM Vice Chairman – Global Product Development, will transition to a new role effective April 1, 2009 as Vice Chairman and Senior Advisor. Lutz, 76, will provide strategic input into GM's global design and key product initiatives until his retirement at the end of 2009. He will continue to report to Wagoner.

Wagoner also announced that effective April 1, 2009 the GM Board of Directors elected Thomas G. Stephens, Vice Chairman – Global Product Development, reporting to President and Chief Operating Officer Fritz Henderson. Stephens, 60, is currently Executive Vice President, Global Powertrain and Global Quality. In this new assignment, Stephens will maintain his responsibility for overseeing GM's global quality activity.

Concurrent with this appointment, GM is restructuring its global powertrain group to integrate powertrain functional activities into their respective global GM functions. Accordingly, in his new role, Stephens will have responsibility for global powertrain engineering, in addition to global design, product engineering, product planning and program management. Powertrain manufacturing will report to Gary Cowger, Group Vice President of GM Global Manufacturing and Labor Relations. Other staffs that support the GM Powertrain organization will be integrated into their respective global functions. These moves represent another important step in GM's restructuring initiative to create a leaner, more efficient organization.

"Bob Lutz was already a legendary automotive product guy when he rejoined GM in 2001," Wagoner said, "and he's added to that by leading the creation of a string of award-winning vehicles for GM during his time here. His 46 years of experience in the global automotive business have been invaluable to us. I've personally learned a great deal from Bob and have very much enjoyed the time we've worked together," Wagoner added. "I'm looking forward to Bob's continued contributions to GM for the remainder of 2009 – and I know the impact of his efforts leading GM global product development will continue for years to come.

"Tom Stephens is the perfect guy to take the reins of GM's global product development," Wagoner continued. "He's had extensive experience in virtually every aspect of our global product development activities. With his 40 years at GM, Tom has an extraordinary understanding of our products and our organization, and is highly respected worldwide. I'm confident that with Tom's passion for great products and vast knowledge of advanced propulsion, he will continue to raise the bar in executing outstanding GM cars and trucks.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 6 Years Ago
      Common Noz (#1)

      Calling people names is a very bad habit that demeans YOU. You can do better.

      To learn from one's mistakes creates wisdom. Apparently, Mr. Lutz (a man of significant experience) has learned from his past mistakes as well as from his many successes. Bob Lutz is a larger than life icon of the automobile world.

      Only time will tell if GM's "Voltec" is (1) GM's sincere and well meaning attempt to electrify the automobile or (2) another shell game to win support for corporate (un)wel(not)fare.

      If GM is operating under option one, I wish them the best of success. If they are trying to pull a “fast one” under option 2, then they will ultimately be out of business in a few years once people catch on. A $Billion spent on a new plant in South American using OUR tax money does not fill me with optimism.

      Anyway, our best hope still lies in the Free market and a wild card…

      Common EEStor! I've got my fingers crossed and daddy needs a new electric car!
        • 6 Years Ago
        Yeah you better get started Tim....and try to educate yourself on the way too.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I see someone has some maturing to do. You have a long way to go, so you'd better get started.
        • 6 Years Ago

        Experience means nothing without humility...of which Lutz has none of.

        GM's actions clearly demonstrate that the Volt is a sham. A company seriously considering change will not sell their POS SUV's abroad under everyone's noses while pretending to be green.

        And frankly, I couldn't give a rat's ass what you think about my language.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Well, I listened to the Mr. Lutz interview that gorr posted. This is possibly one of the first interviews where he sounds like he's got the company's direction pointed correctly. A great interview, but, how does GM back off selling Huge Guzzler SUV's? The pricing of the Volt and the hybrid Tahoe are a very big concern.

      But, my real concern is when this recession ends, what will be the price of gas? I think we are headed for a Taleb Distribution: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taleb_Distribution
      with Autos and Global Warming.

      i.e. No Matter How Much Money the World Auto Industry has made in the past, it will be COMPLETELY Wiped Out by Global Warming.

      California: melting Snow pack water supply, Forest fires, World Drought, Food shortages, heat waves and acidic oceans....

      A 40 thousand dollar Volt isn't going to stop that. We need a vast Fleet of cars like the Think! City, and a massive conversion to Efficient autos and homes. And a super project to find a way to remove CO2 from the atmosphere.

        • 6 Years Ago
        Personally, I'd like the co2 ppm to be back in it's normal range: 250 ppm.


        Carbon dioxide levels are now 27 percent higher than at any point in the last 650,000 years, according to research into Antarctic ice cores published on Thursday in Science.

        - Population is also the highest the planet has ever sustained at 6.6 billion. Population projections are for 9 billion by 2050.
        - Global Extinction has never been worse( except for that Astroid thing with dinosaurs ).
        - And the world is experiencing global drought. The ppm is only a score card. Forest fires, food shortages and drought are my real concern.

        If we ignore Global Climate Change, we are inviting "black swans" of our own making and they will not be unforeseen events. I could "short" all the deniers out there on the stock market, but, with real climate change money won't be worth the paper it's printed on.

        This doesn't look good.

        • 6 Years Ago
        "And a super project to find a way to remove CO2 from the atmosphere."

        You do realize that trees and plants NEED CO2 to survive, don't you? Without CO2 they die. You see, plants and trees absorb CO2 and then they convert it to Oxygen. People and animals NEED oxygen to survive. People and animals breathe in oxygen and exhale CO2. It's a nice little cycle.

        Furthermore, CO2 accounts for all of 0.038% of our atmosphere. That's it.

        In addition, contrary to the BS being peddled by large men with even larger carbon footprints, there is no correlation to the warming of the earth and the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. There has historically been much more CO2 in our atmosphere than exists today. For example:

        During the Jurassic Period (200 mya), average CO2 concentrations were about 1800 ppm or about 4.7 times higher than today.

        The highest concentrations of CO2 during all of the Paleozoic Era occurred during the Cambrian Period, nearly 7000 ppm -- about 18 times higher than today.

        The Carboniferous Period and the Ordovician Period were the only geological periods during the Paleozoic Era when global temperatures were as low as they are today. To the consternation of global warming proponents, the Late Ordovician Period was also an Ice Age while at the same time CO2 concentrations then were nearly 12 times higher than today-- 4400 ppm.

        According to greenhouse theory, Earth should have been exceedingly hot. Instead, global temperatures were no warmer than today. Clearly, other factors besides atmospheric carbon influence earth temperatures and global warming.

        That said, do you REALLY want to get rid of all the CO2?
        • 6 Years Ago
        Amen brother!
      • 6 Years Ago
      He may not have believed in Global Warming, but him being behind the volt has done more to advance the art in recent years than anyone else.

      And it is evolutionary in that unlike other Hybrids, the primary feature limiting it from being a full EV is the size of the battery and much much less the capability of the powertrain.

      And If the nothing else, the Volt will be a cheap way for all these companies pushing a myriad of battery technologies to gain relatively cheap access to a demonstration platform. The better their battery tech, the more it will act like an EV and less like a Hybrid.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Its sad to see the quotable, sometimes foot chewing, always very entertaining Mr. Lutz going.

      I certainly expected him to be handing off the keys for the 1st production Volt to a customer before he left GM.

      While I didn't agree with all his opinions, he was the guy at the top that pushed the Volt into happening (he wanted pure electric BTW) - as he is a believer that the future of the vehicle is electric (and what that means strategy wise for GM). That was a hugely important thing to be done for the industry - forcing availability of somewhat affordable EV's to the US public forward a half a decade or more (and eventually affordable EV's by the same amount). I give him a big amount of credit for that, without him the production Volt (and associated toe in the water dippings of the other big automakers wouldn't be happening).

      Regarding GM's motives with the Volt, I followed GM on the EV1 as well and believe this is being handled very different and very publicly (not what they did with the EV1), they couldn't afford the PR damage tossing it at the last minute would entail, its for real, IMHO.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I like this guy, maybe the last transparent folk in the auto industry where numerous cold, programmed, no non-sence, pale and idiotic robot and tasteless no name guys are managing car industry along with big oil, goverment agencies. At 8 mins 30 secs in that film , lutz admit that epa have hack the shifting mechanism of manual car. I know, because i had numerous manual car and the engine is working against you when you shift speeds with your manual transmission.


      • 6 Years Ago
      I say good. Moving forward, if GM (and others) are to survive, they will need someone grounded with an understanding of today's issues and needs and how to develop products based on those needs. Bob always seemed a few years behind current times, and didn't seem very stable in a product vision for the future based on current trends. He didn't 'get it'. The Volt seemed like a puppet for the press and the American public. They were too slow to move to efficient cars, too slow to move to decent looking designed cars, too slow to move to hybrids, EVs, small cars, etc.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I'm no GM basher, but I'm ready for a new generation at that company.

      • 6 Years Ago
      The first, and most important step in trying to solve a problem, whatever it may be...personal, political, global, is to admit you have one and believe in the fact that the problem truly exists.

      Dimwit morons like Lutz are nothing but a setback not only to the direction the auto industry should be taking, but a big step back for humanity as well.

      Good riddance moron.
        • 6 Years Ago
        "It's Lutz's narrow-minded mentality that has led GM to only concentrate on a the Volt when it should be covering all sorts of options."

        Dude, you realize they're broke, right?

        Diversifying your investments makes sense when you got the money to do that but they don't. So there you are.

        It's important to remember that Chrysler put all their eggs in the K-car basket (Lutz was there for that too) and Chrysler managed to pull that off.

        Sometimes all you got is one shot.
        • 6 Years Ago

        The Volt is a double-edged sword. It's Lutz's narrow-minded mentality that has led GM to only concentrate on a the Volt when it should be covering all sorts of options.

        When you really think about it, the Volt is a one-dimensional, very narrow vision of what the future car should be. It's a complete reflection on Lutz. Plus, a project backed only by economics but no real belief or conviction doesn't the change the corrupt core of GM.

        This company is made up of oil people...people with strong ties to these types of corporations. Even the Volt project is a half-assed attempt by them to simply delay the inevitable IMO.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I totally agree, but I think you're misquoting and misrepresenting the facts in regards to Lutz. I think that Lutz opinion on "man-made" global warming don't necessarily affect his performance of his job or the advancement of electric vehicles.

        Losing someone who was a huge proponent of the Volt hurts that program, and that's the only program I've seen that makes sense so far.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Let me introduce myself, I am The Anti-Noz. I bring mature, educated views to AutoblogGreen. I find it unnecessary to resort to name calling when I can not properly express myself. I freely admit that I have never accomplished anything in the automotive world. I understand my views are simply those of someone who wishes that they understood the fundamentals of business and management, the auto industry, economics and the natural, cyclical nature of the earth's climate.

      I am willing to acknowledge the achievements of someone with whom I disagree. I do not present myself as an omnicient entity whose views are the only correct ones. When presenting my views, I substantiate my argument with facts, not rhetoric or 'evidence' that has been proven false by a vast number of scientists.

      That said, I would like to thank Mr. Lutz for spearheading the Volt program. I would like to thank him for being a proponent of the hybrid program at GM- you know, the program that allows a Tahoe to get nearly the same city MPG as a 6 cylinder Camry. I would also like to thank him for re-envisioning both the Buick and Cadillac brands. I would like to thank him for prompting the importation of models from Holden and Opel. In addition, I would like to acknowledge his efforts to improve the interior quality, styling and fit and finish of every GM model. And speaking of styling, I would like applaud his efforts in bringing the Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky to market.

      Mr. Lutz, after nearly 50 years in the automotive industry, anyone with a passion for the automobile needs to thank you for your efforts. Thank you.
      - The Anti-Noz
        • 6 Years Ago
        The Anti-Noz (#14)

        WELCOME, Chelsea.

        A little balance is a very GOOD thing!
      • 6 Years Ago
      people forget that GM had a nice electric car years ago called the impact built in Lansing mi,but very few people were interested so GM went to flex fuel.GM led the development of the Airbag and catalitic converter and is the only company that has a Onstar that can save your life even if your knocked out it will send help and this year they will be stopping stolen cars in there tracts when reported stolen.Global warming has been a split opinion between many very smart scientist.Mr Lutz was a man with vision and brought style back tto GM and some great products.If the greedy oil co had not raised the price of gas so fast Gm and others would be doing fine.Have you noticed how fast gas prices dropped when demand did.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Bob Lutz has done many things to inspire employees and reinvigorate the car companies that he has worked for.

      I ALSO question the validity of an invisible boogeyman gas generated by what seems to be only cars--causing the world to warm up. Over the past 20 years, environmentalists kept coming up with new reasons that the world is dying and to make the world panic, such as air pollution, acid rain, ozone layer depletion, rain forest destruction, etc., and nobody cared. After pounding it into our heads, the issue of CO2 emissions has finally stuck with the public at large.

      Speaking of rain forest destruction, Perhaps governments should put out strict regulations on cutting down trees and mowing lawns? Plants suck in CO2 and breathe out Oxygen.
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