GM boss Bob Lutz will retire at the end of the year. The vice chairman of global product development – who has been at the centre of the automotive industry for the last 46 years – will be replaced by Tom Stephens, GM’s current veepee for global powertrain and global quality.
Lutz, 76, will continue to report to GM boss Rick Wagoner throughout 2009 in his new role as GM vice chairman and senior advisor, before bowing out at the end of December.
'Bob Lutz was already a legendary automotive product guy when he rejoined GM in 2001,' Wagoner said at the announcement today. 'He’s added to that by leading the creation of a string of award-winning vehicles for GM during his time here. I’ve personally learned a great deal from Bob and have very much enjoyed the time we’ve worked together.'
Outspoken and ballsy, Lutz added a much-needed dose of glamour to the grey corporate world of the American car industry, and held top positions at Ford, BMW and Chrysler. Under his GM watch Lutz initiated among others the Cadillac Sixteen Concept, Chevrolet Camaro, Saturn Sky Pontiac Solstice, Cadillac CTS and the Chevrolet Volt.
Well known for his appetite for cigars, fast motorbikes and military jets – he served as a fighter pilot in the American Marine Corps from 1954 to 1965 – Lutz was also a best-selling writer with his 1998 book Guts: The Seven Laws of Business that Made Chrysler the World's Hottest Car Company.