The retire of General Motors Vice Chairman, Bob Lutz, is near after 20 years of experience charting the waters of the auto industry. Under Lutz's stewardship, we have seen a dramatic improvement in GM's latest vehicles, designed under Lutz's purview.
Lutz was co-chairman of Chrysler, for 12 years before it was sold to Germany's Daimler. At Chrysler, he became famous for reinvigorating that company's cars after more than a decade of K-car variants, introducing the Dodge Viper and updating critical products such as the company's minivans and large sedans, including the Dodge Intrepid. After he left Chrysler, he wrote a book, "Guts!" about transforming the management and car design process at the company. Before Chrysler, Lutz worked in Europe for BMW and Ford through the 1970s and '80s.
Lutz started a second stint at GM in 2001, charged with revitalizing the automaker's vehicle lineup. He stayed with the company through its brief sojourn into bankruptcy last year and has seen a new generation of GM autos -- including the Buick LaCrosse, Cadillac SRX, GMC Terrain, Chevrolet Equinox and Chevrolet Camaro -- start to take hold in the marketplace. Those models helped power GM to a 32% gain in vehicle sales in February compared with a year earlier.
"Lutz truly is the last of the original larger-than-life auto executives, and it will be sad to see him retire," said Aaron Bragman, auto industry analyst at IHS Global Insight. "His influence and no-nonsense attitude is frequently quoted by internal GM engineers and designers as the main reason GM vehicles have become so much better than they ever have been."
Lutz praises his colleagues at GM and confirms that he will not be around to see development of the Volt series hybrid through to fruition, but that by the time he leaves it will be "well on its way to launch" and in capable hands.
"I can confidently say that the job I came here to do more than nine years ago is now complete -- the team I have been fortunate to lead has far exceeded my expectations," he said.
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