DETROIT (WWJ) — General Motors is bringing back legendary auto executive Bob Lutz — for a second time.
Lutz, who’s 79, and retired from GM last year, will consult the company’s product development team. Lutz had lead that team for nearly a decade, after then GM CEO Rick Wagoner talked him out of his first retirement in 2011
“Lutz will be available to executives on a part-time consultancy basis effective immediately,” said a statement from General Motors. “He brings a wealth of experience built over the course of more than 40 years in the industry, including two stints at GM. He has also been a senior executive at Ford, Chrysler, BMW and was CEO of Exide Batteries.”
Reaction to the move has been generally positive.
“This is a good thing for GM,” says Jeremy Anwyl, CEO of Edmunds.com. “Even with his depth of experience, Bob can always be counted on as a source of fresh ideas.”
Most of the vehicles that General Motors is selling right now were developed under Lutz’s leadership. That includes hits like the Chevrolet Cruze small car and the new Chevy Camaro.
“It really can’t be denied. The man knows the industry,” says Aaron Bragman, an analyst with IHS Automotive. “The man knows what makes a good car. He’s had a very decent track run of success. Why not bring him back if he has something to contribute.”
General Motors product development team is on its second director since Lutz departure. Some product development work was put on hold during GM’s bankruptcy, and that team is now under pressure to get new products on the road faster than originally expected.
“It is curious to see that they’d bring him back after he’s already left,” says Bragman. “The hope was that he’d made changes to the GM structure so that he wouldn’t be needed himself, that things have changed enough that his influence, ideas and procedures have basically permeated the organization.”
GM says Lutz has been an informal advisor to current product development chief Mary Barra, and this just formalizes that relationship.