“The industry may need five years to recover,” says General Motors Vice Chairman Bob Lutz, giving his first hint as to why he suddenly decided to retire, last month, after a nearly half-century in the auto industry. “I did the math,” says the 77-year-old executive, “and decided 82 was a little old to be dealing with these problems.
Lutz’s upcoming departure – he leaves his post as “car czar” the end of this month, though the septuagenarian continues in a consultant’s role through the rest of the year – leaves a number of questions about GM’s future. He has been the company’s most active and visible proponent for the development of world-class product. Whether his successor, powertrain chief Tom Stephens, can and will remain such a vociferous auto activist remains to be seen.
Lutz put in a brief appearance, this week, at the Geneva Motor Show, which he recalled was the first show he attended as a car-crazy youngster. While he used this trip to check out the competition’s offerings, the silver-haired former Marine pilot also watched the unveiling of the Opel Ampera, the latest spinoff of the Chevrolet Volt.