Auto News: Lutz May Take Over GM Marketing

Product Guru Said to Have Reversed Retirement Decision at Giant Automaker

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DETROIT ( -- Bob Lutz, the former General Motors product chief who had intended to retire at the end of this year, has apparently changed his plans and is likely to assume the top marketing and communications post at the automaker, Automotive News reports today.

Mr. Lutz, 77, may extend his GM career as head of marketing and communications, two people familiar with the decision told Auto News. He may also play a role in product design, one of the people said.

Word of his future was to be part of GM's announcement of its emergence from bankruptcy, the sources said. The automaker has scheduled a 9 a.m. ET press conference today in Detroit.

The New York Times and the Associated Press reported this morning that GM officially emerged from court protection at 6:30 a.m. ET. GM spokesman Steve Harris declined to comment. The Wall Street Journal reported earlier that Mr. Lutz would stay but did not identify his role.

Mr. Lutz said in February that he would leave the company for good at the end of the year. He has been replaced by Tom Stephens as vice chairman of global product development while remaining vice chairman and senior adviser.

Mr. Lutz, known for being outspoken, announced his retirement as GM was losing control of its destiny and becoming more dependent on U.S. rescue loans for its survival. Rick Wagoner -- who hired the former BMW, Ford and Chrysler executive in 2001 -- was forced from his CEO post by the Obama administration in April. As GM's best assets exit bankruptcy as a new company, GM will be 60.8% owned by the U.S. Treasury.

The Journal said Mr. Lutz asked to stay on with the new company, led by CEO Fritz Henderson, and his request was granted. In an interview with Automotive News in February, he said he would reconsider his decision to retire if asked to do so.

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