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Retiring Lutz praises Holden link

Friend of Holden: Bob Lutz championed Holden's design and engineering skills in his tenure with GM.

GM Holden champion and ‘global product czar’ to step back from the front line

10 Feb 2009

GENERAL Motors vice-chairman of global product development Bob Lutz, who will retire at the end of this year, has described the alliance forged between the US and Australia as his “proudest accomplishment”.

In a statement released on Monday, GM chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner said Mr Lutz, 76, who has been a champion of Holden’s global engineering and design role within the GM empire, will move to an advisory role on April 1, providing strategic input into the US auto giant’s global design and “key product” initiatives until December 31.

Replacing Mr Lutz in April will be executive vice-president of global powertrain and global quality Tom Stephens, 60, who will report to GM president and chief operating officer Fritz Henderson.

As well as overseeing global design, product engineering, product planning and program management, Mr Stephens will maintain his responsibility for global quality and global powertrain engineering.

Mr Wagoner said Bob Lutz “was already a legendary automotive product guy” when he rejoined GM in 2001.

“He’s added to that by leading the creation of a string of award-winning vehicles for GM during his time here,” he said.

“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.

“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.

A former vice-chairman of Chrysler Corporation, Mr Lutz will be long remembered in Australia for advocating global applications of the Holden-developed rear-wheel-drive vehicle architecture, and for pressing for a Commodore-based export program into the US, which began with the MY2004 Pontiac GTO.

“People say: ‘You did the Pontiac GTO and that didn’t sell very well’, but yet I am tremendously proud of it,” Mr Lutz told Automotive News in the US. “That’s the car that got us convinced that we could use the global product development scheme. Up until then, no one had tried anything like that.

“The work on the GTO with Australia forged an important bond and got us to unify everything: common processes and common testing. I am proud to say that was my initiative. That’s my proudest accomplishment.”

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