GM SHIFTS TOP VEHICLE DIVISION CHIEFS

Aligns Management of Buick, Pontiac-GMC Under Kurt Ritter

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DETROIT (AdAge.com) -- General Motors Corp. is shifting two of its top vehicle division chiefs.

Kurt Ritter, currently marketing general manager of Chevrolet, on March 1 becomes general manager of the Buick and Pontiac-GMC divisions, a new position at the automaker. Roger Adams, currently marketing general manager of Buick, becomes general manager of the GM Customer Network, which handles customer relationship management

Lynn Myers, a 30-year GM veteran, will remain as marketing general manager of Pontiac-GMC. She will but will now report to Mr. Ritter. Brent Dewar, general manager of GM's northeast region, will succeed Mr. Ritter at Chevrolet

'Strengthen the organization'
The changes "will strengthen the

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organization, bring fresh prospectives to several positions and provide new challenges for some of our most talented executives," said John Smith, GM's new group vice president of sales, service and marketing in North America.

Mr. Ritter's new title, vehicle divisional general manager, was abandoned by GM at the onset of the automaker's move to brand management in the mid-1990s. The general managers had broader responsibilities than their successors, the marketing general managers.

Mr. Ritter's new responsibilities include the alignment of the three brands' tactical marketing and product planning. GM said Mr. Ritter will help in Buick's expansion into trucks. Later this year Buick will launch a new sport utility, the Rainier. Buick has had success with its Rendezvous SUV, which arrived in mid-2001. Buick's future product plans include a minivan, defined by the auto industry as a truck.

Truck specialist
Mr. Ritter, who joined GM in 1971, is known as a truck specialist. Before taking his current post in 1999, he was Chevrolet's truck marketing manager from 1991. In 1996 he became brand manager of Chevrolet's full-size pickup.

Jim Sanfilippo, executive vice president of Omnicom Group's AMCI auto consultancy, said Mr. Ritter's new title and duties may indicate future changes at GM. He speculated the move may signal changes for Pontiac, which "has to reclaim some of its swagger."

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