Bob Lutz is stepping down as General Motors
' vice chairman and global product chief, the automaker said Monday. Tom Stephens will be GM's new head of global product development.
Lutz, a noted car collector who turns 77 on Feb. 12, has been at GM since Sept. 1, 2001.
Lutz was hired by GM Chairman Rick Wagoner to inject passion and style into GM's product lineup. The automaker had been widely criticized for building vehicles with bland exterior styling and interiors covered in cheap-looking plastic.
Lutz arrived and questioned everything about GM--its products, its hierarchy and its product development strategy.
Lutz's first shot in turning GM's product lineup around was the surprise introduction of the Pontiac Solstice roadster at the 2002 Detroit auto show
. Lutz had ordered the concept built soon after joining GM--and the concept when from initial sketch to drivable vehicle in less than four months.
There have been several other landmark vehicles during Lutz's tenure. Among them: the Cadillac Sixteen concept, the revival of the Pontiac GTO and the Chevrolet Malibu, which was named the 2008 North American Car of the Year.
Lutz's automotive career also includes stops at Ford Motor Co., BMW and Chrysler
. He left Chrysler after retiring Chairman Lee Iacocca picked GM executive Bob Eaton for the top job.
After leaving Chrysler, Lutz served as CEO of battery maker Exide Technologies from 1998 to 2002.
PRESS RELEASE: Bob Lutz moves to Senior Advisor Role; Will Retire at End of 2009; Tom Stephens Becomes Vice Chairman - Global Product Development
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