Lutz, the self-confessed ‘car guy’ often credited with leading Chrysler’s early
1990s product-led recovery under then-chairman (and fellow former Ford employee)
Lee Iacocca, is to become General Motors‘ vice chairman responsible for product
development from September 1.

Tom Davis, group vice president of product development, will retire in the
first quarter of next year, GM said in a statement.

Lutz, who has signed on for three years, will report to GM president and CEO
Rick Wagoner and will serve on both the Automotive Strategy Board and the North
American Strategy Board.

GM’s statement said that Lutz will work closely with Ron Zarrella, president
of GM North America, on development of products for the key North American market
and will also oversee the development of global products.



Industry pundits in the U.S. are already saying that Lutz could help transform
GM’s largely lack-lustre line-up and reverse the disappointing sales of poorly-received
new models such as the outlandishly styled Pontiac Aztek and nondescript mid-size

“Tom Davis told me some time ago of his plan to retire around age 55,
so earlier this year we began a formal search – both internal and external
– for the best person to oversee our vast global product development organisation,"
Wagoner said.

“In early June, based on my tremendous respect for his product and business
expertise, I met with Bob to seek his counsel. I was incredibly impressed with
his continuing passion and enthusiasm for cars and trucks, and the auto industry
in general.

“Shortly into the conversation, it became very clear to me that he was
the right executive for GM.”

Davis said he had been planning his retirement for some time.

Reporting to Lutz, who joins from Exide Technologies where he was CEO and remains
chairman, will be Wayne Cherry, vice president – Design Centre; Jim Queen, vice
president of North America engineering; and the 14 North American vehicle line
executives. Larry Burns, vice president of GM

research and development and planning, will report to both Lutz and Wagoner.

“I’m taking this job because it is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity
to help in the ongoing rebuilding of not just an American icon, but a global
icon,” Lutz said.

“I began my business career at General Motors back in the 1960s. In those
days, GM cars and trucks set the standard throughout the world.

“I still have quite a bit of gasoline in my veins.”

To view related research reports, please follow the links

The world’s car manufacturers: A financial and operating review

regional report: North America