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General Motors Management: Bob Lutz

Bob Lutz To Head GM Product Development

DETROIT - General Motors Corp. announced its Board of Directors has elected Bob Lutz vice chairman responsible for product development, effective Sept. 1, 2001. Tom Davis, group vice president - product development, will retire in the first quarter of next year.

Lutz, whose agreement runs three years, will report to President and CEO Rick Wagoner. He will serve on both the Automotive Strategy Board and the North American Strategy Board.

He will coordinate closely with Ron Zarrella, president of GM North America, on development of products for the key North American market. He also will oversee the development of GM's global product portfolio.

"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 organization," Wagoner said.


Bob Lutz with Rick Wagoner and Ron Zarella

"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."

Wagoner also praised Davis, who will retire after a 37-year career with GM.

"While we're very excited to have a person of Bob's caliber join our organization, we're equally disappointed to see Tom retire," Wagoner said. "Tom has been a great leader for GM. Whether he was heading the truck group or overseeing the convergence of our product-development organization, Tom did an exceptional job."

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

"It was pretty simple, really," Davis said. "I know it's an old song, but I sincerely wanted to retire and spend more time with my family. I've given almost 40 years to GM, sometimes at the expense of my family.

"Over the past year or so, I've had the opportunity to reflect and decided this is what I wanted to do. I am very excited about GM's future."

Reporting to Lutz in his new role will be Wayne Cherry, vice president -- Design Center; 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 -- the 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. I relish this opportunity to finish out my career as a day-to-day executive, working with Rick and Ron Zarrella and the GM team, to help solidify and accelerate the progress already being made on product by GM.

"At the same time, I'm both pleased and gratified that the board of Exide Technologies has strongly endorsed my continuing role as chairman of that also-great, 113-year-old company -- a position I plan to retain as long as the board will have me.

"Meanwhile, as chairman of the board of Exide Technologies, I can't help but be delighted by the strength of the management team we now have in place, led by our newly elected chief executive officer, Craig Muhlhauser."

photos: General Motors

Biography - Robert A. Lutz: Vice Chairman - Product Development

Robert A. Lutz was named vice chairman of product development at General Motors Corp. on Aug. 2, 2001, effective Sept. 1.

Prior to joining GM, Lutz was chairman and chief executive officer of Exide Technologies. He retains the chairman position.

Lutz joined Excide after a distinguished career with the former Chrysler Corp. from 1986 to 1998, where he reached the position of vice chairman. Lutz also served as president and CEO, responsible for Chrysler's car and truck operations worldwide.

Lutz led all of Chrysler's automotive activities including sales, marketing, product development, manufacturing and procurement and supply. He began his service with Chrysler in 1986 as executive vice president and was shortly thereafter elected to the Chrysler Corp. board. His twelve years with the company are chronicled in his 1998 book Guts: The Seven Laws of Business That Made Chrysler the World's Hottest Car Company.

Before Chrysler, Lutz spent twelve years at Ford Motor Co., where his last position was executive vice president of truck operations. He also served as chairman of Ford of Europe and as executive vice president of Ford's international operations. From 1982 to 1986, Lutz was a member of Ford's board.

Lutz began his automotive career in 1963 at GM, where he held a variety of senior positions in Europe. For three years, he served as executive vice president of Sales at BMW in Munich and as a member of that company's board of management. Lutz is a member of the board of directors of Battery Council International; Kepner-Tregoe Inc.; Northrop Grumman Corp.; and SGI (formerly Silicon Graphics Inc.).

He is a trustee of the Michigan Cancer Foundation, and also serves as a member of the board of trustees for the U.S. Marine Corps University Foundation and the Marine Military Academy in Harlingen, Texas.

Lutz received his bachelor's degree in production science from the University of California-Berkeley in 1961, where he earned distinction as a Phi Beta Kappa. He received a Master's Degree in Business Administration, with highest honors, from the University of California-Berkeley in 1962.

He also served as a jet-attack aviator in the United States Marine Corps from 1954-1965 and attained the rank of Captain. Lutz was born February 12, 1932, in Zurich, Switzerland.

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