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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