The Detroit Free Press is reporting that former General Motors CEO Robert C. Stempel has passed away in Florida at the age of 77. The chief executive began his career at GM as an engineer in 1958, but worked his way up to several high-ranking jobs by the 1970s. After running Pontiac, Opel and the Buick-Oldsmobile-Cadillac group, Stempel was named CEO in 1990. His time as CEO was a short one due in part to a loss of $7 billion in 1991. The tumultuous time included 12 plant closures and the loss of 74,000 jobs, which lead to a boardroom revolt.
The former CEO was also a gifted engineer, leading the development of the catalytic converter. Stempel also used his engineering prowess to help push for the EV1 electric car, and after his time at GM he continued to work on other green technologies including solar power. GM has issued a statement thanking Stempel for his service at the automaker, calling him "a very popular chairman with employees."


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  • 13 Comments
      dukeisduke
      • 3 Years Ago
      A great engineer, but not a great CEO. Rest in peace.
      Rick
      • 3 Years Ago
      Stempel was actually one of the good guys, his main issue was trying to clean up Roger Smiths mess. The board didn't give him enough time to really even start the clean up job. He had less than 2 years in the job when the board used him as the scapegoat for GM's ills. He didn't want to shutter plants or have jobs lost and actually had plans to move GM ahead. There was simply no time with the board who was more focused on dollars than product. To those who think he was the badge king, sorry, it was Roger Smith. Given the time he needed, Bob could have done the job. RIP Bob
      Kent
      • 3 Years Ago
      My father-in-law worked for GM and later did consulting work for GM. He had met Stempel several times, and he knew a number of people who worked with Stempel. Stempel was a very cordial person and hated having to "bust someone's chops." While he was a great engineer and the last true car guy to run GM, he just wasn't cut out to run the company. He honestly thought that he could fix GM without having to close plants and lay off large numbers of hourly workers. But the reality was that GM no longer had 50% of the U.S. car market and wasn't going to regain that market share. The Japanese were launching new makes to compete with GM's mid-size, full-size, and luxury products.
      longducdong
      • 3 Years Ago
      RIP
      Egon
      • 3 Years Ago
      While euologies are sometimes diffucult to author by their very nature, this one seems to be a particular challenge. He developed the catalytic converter (that choked out HP ratings in triple digit chunks). He helped develop the EV1 (which were all later repossessed and crushed). The was the CEO (and had the unenviable task of performing corporate downsizing with the delicacy of a chainsaw). Certainly nothing personal intended towards Mr. Stempel, but I'm afraid any of his crowning achievements are caught in some very long shadows.
        Mike K
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Egon
        I've yet to see a vehicle where the Catalytic converters take away anywhere NEAR triple digits. You also have to remember that there are a lot more emissions controls in the engine then just catalytic converters. There's conservative tunes, EGR, etc.
      Rick C.
      • 3 Years Ago
      A great engineer, with long term vision and insight. Something the bean counter type board members, the ones that only pay attention to the number on a line after a few month period, are blind to.
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      Xiavior_Jaggers
      • 3 Years Ago
      Sixty to Zero proves that bob stemple had done little to fix the already ruined image of company left by Roger Smith. The book proves it with the author's past observation on the detroit car companies.
      Bassracerx
      • 3 Years Ago
      I was allways fond of the tribeca better then the gmc acadia. I think all subaru really needs to do is equip q turbo to that flat six to get people's attention
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