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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