General Motors ‘product czar’ Bob Lutz expects to stay at GM as long as he wants, according to the Detroit Free Press (DFP).

According to the newspaper, Lutz said yesterday he expects the automaker to offer him an indefinite contract, replacing the three-year deal he signed when he became vice chairman a year ago.

The three-year time frame was meant as an “initial period” to protect the company in case the marriage didn’t work out, Lutz said, adding, “there are high expectations on my part that it is going to work out,” the DFP said.

However, GM would not confirm plans for Lutz’s contract, the newspaper noted.

“There’s no questioning Bob’s effectiveness both organisationally and personally, especially in the up-front planning process, and design has been really working well,” spokesman Tony Cervone told the DFP. “We obviously don’t comment on personnel contracts until the appropriate time, such as when we file with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.”

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The DFP said Lutz spoke at a lunch meeting with journalists after urging the industry to rely on common sense rather than data analysis during a speech at the Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City.

“I went through my annual review with Rick Wagoner recently,” Lutz told the Detroit Free Press. He added that GM’s chief executive officer had suggestions for improvements in some areas, but “he pronounced himself, on balance, satisfied.”

The DFP said that many industry observers say Lutz has made two key contributions since joining GM, after careers at BMW, Chrysler, Ford and battery maker Exide: he has encouraged product developers to be more creative in the way they think, and his outspoken passion for products has helped changed the way the news media view the company.

“The longer I’m there, the more you can assume that products reflect my influence,” Lutz told the DFP. He added that his influence comes not through telling people what to do, but “getting the team to unleash their creativity in the up-front product creation. I want them to stop thinking about it as a rational process and assuming that customers make a rational analysis of their needs.”

The Detroit Free Press reported that Lutz said GM “was well on its way to gaining momentum” before he joined the company, and cars like the Hummer H2 and Cadillac CTS were developed before he arrived.

His contribution has been to propose “a different way of looking at things. In the next three or four years, you’re going to see a lot of surprising vehicles for GM,” the DFP cited Lutz as saying.