• Dec 4, 2009

Having just been appointed interim CEO at General Motors earlier this week, ex-AT&T man Ed Whitacre isn't wasting any time in exercising his newfound authority. According to The Wall Street Journal, Whitacre is to announce a number of management changes this morning, including moving Vice Chairman Bob Lutz from his role in marketing to a more product planning-focused role. Whitacre is also expected to promote some of the company's younger managers to new positions, although it has not yet been revealed who is targeted.

According to the WSJ, Whitacre "drew up the new management blueprint in a matter of four hours," suggesting to us that he already had a number of changes in mind. Further, he is also expected to combine GM's sales and marketing divisions

While Whitacre has only been on the job since Tuesday and he is technically only considered an interim appointment at this time, the search for a new CEO is thought likely to take months, if not a year. From the looks of things, Whitacre isn't looking at himself as simply a placeholder, though, and we wouldn't be surprised to see more changes as the weeks and months roll by.

*UPDATE: Changes confirmed: GM has issued a press release (viewable after the jump). Among the moves, Bob Lutz will be an 'advisor' on design and global product – he will retain his title of vice chairman. Other changes include Mark Reuss named as president of GM North America, Susan Docherty appointed VP, vehicle sales, service, and marketing operations. For a full list of changes, click past the jump for the release.

[Source: The Wall Street Journal I Image: Bill Pugliano/Getty]



PRESS RELEASE:

GM Announces Leadership Changes

2009-12-04

DETROIT – To improve accountability and responsibility for market performance in North America and around the world, several key leadership changes were announced today by GM Chairman and CEO, Ed Whitacre.

"I want to give people more responsibility and authority deeper in the organization and then hold them accountable," Whitacre said. "We've realigned our leadership duties and responsibilities to help us meet our mission to design, build and sell the world's best vehicles."

Mark Reuss is named president of GM North America. Reuss was briefly vice president of Engineering after leading GM's Holden operations in Australia in 2008. Reporting to Reuss will be Susan E. Docherty, who is appointed vice president, Vehicle Sales, Service and Marketing operations. Also aligned under the new North American group will be Diana D. Tremblay, who is named vice president, Manufacturing and Labor Relations. Tremblay was most recently vice president of Labor Relations. Denise C. Johnson is named vice president, Labor Relations. Johnson was most recently vehicle line director and chief engineer for Global Small Cars.

Nick Reilly is named president, GM Europe. Reilly has been leading the restructuring efforts in Europe with the Opel/Vauxhall operations and will leave his role leading GM International Operations.

Tim Lee is named president of GM International Operations, overseeing GM's Asia-Pacific, Latin America, Africa, and Middle East operations. Lee was most recently group vice president, Manufacturing and Labor Relations.

Bob Lutz remains vice chairman and will act as advisor on design and global product development.

Thomas G. Stephens remains vice chairman of Global Product Operations, and will now take on global purchasing in his organization, which will continue to be lead by Robert E. Socia, vice president, Global Purchasing and Supply Chain. Karl-Friedrich Stracke is appointed vice president, Engineering, reporting to Stephens. Stracke was most recently executive director of Engineering.

J. Christopher Preuss, vice president, Communications, will now report to Whitacre; he previously reported to Lutz.

The balance of the direct report staff remains unchanged and includes CFO Ray G. Young; John F. Smith, vice president Corporate Planning and Alliances; Terry Kline, vice president IS&S; Mary T. Barra, vice president Human Resources; Mike Millikin, vice president of Legal; and Ken C. Cole, vice president Government Relations and Public Policy.

###

About General Motors: General Motors, one of the world's largest automakers, traces its roots back to 1908. With its global headquarters in Detroit, GM employs 209,000 people in every major region of the world and does business in some 140 countries. GM and its strategic partners produce cars and trucks in 34 countries, and sell and service these vehicles through the following brands: Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, GM Daewoo, Holden, Opel, Vauxhall and Wuling. GM's largest national market is the United States, followed by China, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Canada, Russia and Germany. GM's OnStar subsidiary is the industry leader in vehicle safety, security and information services. General Motors acquired operations from General Motors Corporation on July 10, 2009, and references to prior periods in this and other press materials refer to operations of the old General Motors Corporation. More information on the new General Motors can be found at www.gm.com.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 66 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Breaking News;

      Ed Whitacre still looks like the crypt keeper. ugghhh
      • 5 Years Ago
      Tim Lee is a POS.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Is it just me, or is Ed Whitacre just one creepy looking dude?!
      fatppldropkick
      • 5 Years Ago
      BRING BACK THE FIERO!
      • 5 Years Ago
      C'mon Lutz! Caprice!!
      • 5 Years Ago
      I see Government Motors is continuing it's long, taxpayer-financed swirl down the toilet bowl.

      I say at this point, just sell them to the Chinese. They're probably going to get bought up by them eventually anyway. The USA is no longer the world's most important car market.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I really wish that GM stop being so turbulent, but I guess many automotive journalists would have lost their jobs without all the news.
      • 5 Years Ago
      dave1
      "That's why GM basically dominates the 2nd largest market on earth.... China. "

      Sometime today GM is going to announce a new venture with SAIC to export trucks to India...which will soon become the 'new' #2. China will be #1. The US is rapidly declining to fill in the #3 slot.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yup, the HTML is on the Fritz again! Is that you Fritz Henderson?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Bob seems to have done well in marketing but product planning is where he belongs.


      Great moves thus-far
        • 5 Years Ago
        @ SU - I own one of them Cobalts (XFE). When dealers advertise these at 10k (CAD) for a brand new 09-10 model its because it doesn't have all those features. I dont want my car to decide when I shift, and for the 5 days I could use A/C ill just wind down the windows instead.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Maximum Bob F-T-MF-W!!!
        • 5 Years Ago
        I go with what Paul said. There are valid reasons to *not* want those items standard especially on an economy car. What about the rest of the GM lineup? I think you'll see those items mostly standard.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Hmm... did this go through?

        @ Sean:

        Lutz isn't an engineer - his BA is in "Production Management", and has an MBA and honorary doctorates in Management and Law. His "official bio" lists mostly management and sales positions, not manufacturing (directly).

        @ Sea Urchin/Paul/daleam/XGM:

        Some people (a rare few) like manual equipment because of the weight and complexity issues with all the extra gear. And if GM really wanted to do more privateer WTC-type stuff in America, I'd bet there be more of a market for those "lightweight specials" with the pending Cruze.

        That being said, XFE's weren't solely strippers, but tecnically an "added designation" (e.g. LS XFE). As a matter of fact, there's a loaded Cobalt LT XFE w/ A/C, keyless entry, cruise, etc. sitting at my local dealer right now. It's just that in most dealers' minds, cheap on gas always meant cheap on price, hence the LS-heavy XFE model splits.

        However, it's unfortunate most Americans don't like a manual transmission - I'd bet that XFE will sit there forever. Maybe I'll be getting one as my new winter beater...
        • 5 Years Ago
        A/C is standard on the Cobalt, I own an 08 LS XFE with no options other than body side molding, spoiler, and a fancy optional paint, I bought it in May 08 shortly after the XFE line launched.

        Came to $14,100 before rebates.

        In short...A/C is standard on all Cobalts, along with cabin filtration.

        Stop dissing it...other than the basic interior it's not a bad car. Not that the haters will acknowledge the positives in ANY GM car
        • 5 Years Ago
        Product development is where Lutz belongs. He is an Engineer and a Car Guy. How he ended up in marketing is beyond me.
        • 5 Years Ago
        We'll need a new name for GM. How about MM? Maximum Motors!!! :D
        • 5 Years Ago
        This is what i have been advocating for years, bring in outsiders who would do these bold moves. Lutz is full of it, but he knows cars. He belongs in production.

        I would also like to see R&D getting some infusion of new blood, they need to figure out how to make AC, Power Windows and Door and Automatic Transmissions much cheaper, so they can be standard equipment on all GM cars. That will surely make GM relevant again.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Lutz is probably the best guy for GM in this position at the moment. The good thing is that GM has his talents, the bad thing the guy is as old as Methuselah. GM badly needs to identify a group of young stars to head up the product planning/development, engineering and styling functions if they want to instill confidence on the part of the public and future investors that this is a viable automobile company.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Smart companies don't let marketing play second fiddle to product development. On the contrary, marketing is supposed to drive everything (no pun intended).

        Look how BMW does it. Marketing's job is to figure out what kinds of vehicles the company should be developing -- what niches to go after, what trends to exploit, etc. (Over the years BMW has been extraordinarily successful at doing this.) The designers and the engineers then put their heads together to come up with the product.

        The way I read this announcement, Whitacre hasn't yet tapped anyone for the key marketing role. Susan Docherty's title includes marketing ops, but I assume that just means the marketing functions that support sales.

        GM urgently needs a kickass marketing genius, somebody at least a generation younger than Lutz.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I agree, Lutz belongs in design and Product Development.
        In marketing he was too much in front of reporters and Lutz being the out-spoken person that he is, woudl end up putting his foot in his mouth all the time.
        Lutz's energy and enthusiasm for exciting cars is best put into the planning stage while these models are still being developed.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @ Dalem, not the case with Cobalt, Automatic is a $800 option and AC comes in second trim level. In first trim level you can not even get a automatic tranny.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @ Sean:

        Lutz isn't an engineer - his BA is in "Production Management", and has an MBA and honorary doctorates in Management and Law. His "official bio" lists mostly management and sales positions, not manufacturing (directly).

        @ Sea Urchin/Paul/daleam/XGM:

        Some people (a rare few) like manual equipment because of the weight and complexity issues with all the extra gear. And if GM really wanted to do more privateer WTC-type stuff in America, I'd bet there be more of a market for those "lightweight specials" with the pending Cruze.

        That being said, XFE's weren't solely strippers, but tecnically an "added designation" (e.g. LS XFE). As a matter of fact, there's a loaded Cobalt LT XFE w/ A/C, keyless entry, cruise, etc. sitting at my local dealer right now. It's just that in most dealers' minds, cheap on gas always meant cheap on price, hence the LS-heavy XFE model splits.

        However, it's unfortunate most Americans don't like a manual transmission - I'd bet that XFE will sit there forever. Maybe I'll be getting one as my new winter beater...
        • 5 Years Ago
        Guess I am going by 08 standards...looks like GM added a 'base' which doesn't include A/C

        http://www.chevrolet.com/vehicles/2010/cobaltcoupe/features.do

        Would probably be tougher to find than a new G8 though.
        • 5 Years Ago
        SU - I may be wrong but I think you are a decade late. I'm pretty sure those items are standard on most GM cars.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Colbalt is an economy car - you should be able to get it totally stripped.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Details just released on a local Detroit TV station website:

      http://www.clickondetroit.com/automotive/21806609/detail.html
      • 5 Years Ago
      They ought to leave Whitaker in charge. He's the first guy we've seen to take charge and shake things up.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Agreed!!!!!!!!!!
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