Mary Barra officially began her tenure as the CEO of General Motors this week, and no one is happier about that than longtime GM executive and auto industry titan Bob Lutz. "Mary is the right person at the right time," said Lutz, who was attending the Detroit Auto Show and touting one of his recent ventures, VIA Motors.

In a conversation with Autoblog, Lutz credited Barra as the leader behind an array of inspiring new products that have led the once-beleaguered automaker out of bankruptcy and into the forefront of a much healthier auto industry. On Monday, GM won both North American Car of the Year and Truck/Utility Of The Year awards for the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray and Silverado, respectively.

Barra is the first female to lead one of Detroit's Big Three. It's a milestone worth marking, though Lutz deems any questions about the role of her gender as dubious. "Why are we surprised?" he asked. "Israel had Golda Meir. Margaret Thatcher was probably the best prime minister in the history of England. Angela Merkel is in Germany. This isn't a question anymore."

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