GM’s Lutz a clutch player

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Front Page -

AUS­TRALIA has a lot of rea­sons to be thank­ful to Bob Lutz. The prod­uct chief at Gen­eral Motors pro­vided a life­line to Holden and helped forge the in­ter­na­tional ties that made it more than just a lo­cal car­maker.

From the early 1990s Lutz was keen on ev­ery­thing Holden was do­ing, and oc­ca­sion­ally at­tacked the Lang Lang prov­ing ground dur­ing his fly­ing vis­its from Detroit.

He was in­stru­men­tal in forg­ing the orig­i­nal ex­port deal for the Holden Monaro and the lat­est pro­gram, which has turned the VE Com­modore into a Buick.

If Lutz had his way, the Com­modore ute would also be go­ing to Amer­i­can show­rooms.

But now he is go­ing. The for­mer fighter pi­lot is get­ting older (77 is next on the clock) and will slide into re­tire­ment at the end of the year af­ter a spell as spe­cial ad­viser to GM chief Rick Wagoner from April 1.

He is un­likely to fade from the scene, but per­sis­tent back trou­ble that has caused the ram­rod­straight Lutz to stoop and the cash cuts and tur­moil in the US mo­tor busi­ness have prob­a­bly made his re­tire­ment choice a lit­tle eas­ier.

Lutz has had all sorts of nick­names dur­ing an en­gi­neer­ing ca­reer that has in­cluded time at Ford, BMW, Chrysler and GM, but my favourites are ‘‘Max­i­mum Bob’’ and the ‘‘Lutz­i­na­tor’’.

He earned both be­cause of his abil­ity to cut to the heart of a chal­lenge and get things done.

‘‘Bob Lutz un­leashed the creative power in GM De­sign and En­gi­neer­ing that en­abled the un­fold­ing of the prod­uct trans­for­ma­tion you see to­day,’’ GM Holden chair­man Mark Reuss says.

Lutz has made a huge dif­fer­ence at Gen­eral Motors, en­er­gis­ing many peo­ple on ev­ery­thing from de­sign and en­gi­neer­ing to fu­ture model pro­grams and ad­vanced tech­nol­ogy.

He has done some of the test driv­ing and feed­back work on the forth­com­ing Chevro­let Volt, which leads GM’s fu­ture car at­tack.

Lutz loves cigars and fast cars, col­lects land­mark cars and still likes to fly. He will be fol­lowed into the top job on the prod­uct side of GM by Tom Stephens, a gifted en­gi­neer who heads the com­pany’s pow­er­train work.

Bow­ing out: Bob Lutz will re­tire and (inset) his re­place­ment, Tom Stephens.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.