By on November 6, 2009

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Spiegel Online reports that Bob Lutz will be named Chairman, and head of the Supervisory Board of Opel. Carl-Peter Forster, who threw in his hat with the Magna buy-out, resigned on the news that GM intends to keep Opel. Forster, the first German to head Opel in decades, was seen to be more independent of Detroit, and respected for his management skills. According to the Spiegel report, managers at Opel are preparing for payback from Lutz, for any prior sins of supporting Opel’s independence and aversion to meddling from RenCen. Opel managers blame Lutz and GM management for pushing cheap Daewoo-Chevrolets in Europe at the expense of Opel, directly contributing to Opels recent problems. For Lutz, aged 77, this is a circular development to his long career which began in Europe with GM Europe (Opel) in 1963.

Also according to Der Spiegel, Nick Reilly, currently chief of GM’s Asia business, will take Forster’s job at GME. Automobilwoche [sub] has it that Forster has already signed with “a leading auto manufacturer.” Opel CEO Hans Demant also is expected to get the pink slip, says Das Autohaus.

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33 Comments on “Breaking: Bob Lutz To Be New Chairman of Opel...”


  • avatar

    Good fit.

  • avatar
    mtymsi

    Does this mean Lutz will be relinquishing his esteemed position as U.S. head of marketing? If that’s the case it should prove to be beneficial, maybe.

  • avatar
    rpol35

    Photo says it all! You should win an award for digging up that gem.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    It is somehow fitting and proper.

  • avatar
    Stingray

    managers at Opel are preparing for payback from Lutz, for any prior sins of supporting Opel’s independence and aversion to meddling from RenCen

    oops…

  • avatar
    Jeffer

    I know old “Crock of Sh*t” doesn’t get much love on this site, but he really is a remarkable old geezer. Most 77 year olds are having a hard time with stairs! BTW-What is the car in the picture? Opel Kadett? I almost sprained my neck trying to look at it upside down.

  • avatar
    Vega

    As a german I will say this:

    Oh shit.

    And to anybody who might say he has good European knowledge due to his stints at Ford Cologne and BMW:

    That’s the problem with Lutz in general. He has great knowledge and insights, only these insights are 30 YEARS OLD.

    P.S.: I’m sure that whole “global warming crock of shit” shtick is going to work extreemely well in Europe…

  • avatar
    Vega

    @Jeffer: Opel Kadett B

  • avatar
    Engineer

    WOW! Is GM actively trying to kill Opel, or is this just run of the mill incompetence?

  • avatar
    KingShango

    Does anyone have any clue as to what GM is doing? Is there any type of overall plan? I just have visions of Fritzy throwing darts at a wall covered in post-it notes.
    I tend to think that Chrysler/Fiat plan may be ill conceived, but they have a plan. I mean at the very least somebody took the time to put all those nice power-points together.

  • avatar
    wsn

    Now it’s clear. GM pulled Opel off the for sale shelf to give Lutz a job.

  • avatar
    Cammy Corrigan

    Hmmm…curious.

    I drove the Vauxhall Insignia and actually liked it. I gave props to Maximum Bob for a good car (I still prefer the Toyota Avensis). Now, I read that Carl-Peter Forster kept away from Detroit’s influence, which means Bob Lutz had nothing to do with the Vauxhall/Opel cars.

    Therefore, in his stint as “car czar” at GM his body of work can be summed up as Chevrolet Malibu, Cadillac CTS(-V) and Buick Enclave.

    Let’s see what winners Lutz comes up with in Europe, bearing in mind it’ll have Ford, Volkswagen and Toyota’s European line up to contend with, not to mention the French makers who have a loyal fanbase there.

    For the record, I like the CTS, but it isn’t a winner. It’s probably on par with the 3-series. Which isn’t good enough. It’s needs to be better…and that’s where he failed, royally.

  • avatar
    YZS

    Payback for WWII? I thought we got over that.

  • avatar

    @KingShango: Actually, I was surprised at the poor quality of the powerpoints in the Chrysler presentation. I normally see more considered and useful decks for INTERNAL presentations. The Chrysler presentations looked like the work of 8 year olds. I lost what little hope I had that anyone was taking the repair of Chrysler seriously.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    GM bailed because of the political investigation that was about to begin in Germany. It stunk.

    Now it looks like the prodigal son (Opel) is about to receive a smackdown from Father GM, when instead they should be embraced.

  • avatar
    loan shark

    He looks so Regal in that picture

  • avatar

    Well, at least he is a car guy and knows Europe. Could be worse.

  • avatar
    superbadd75

    While I am encouraged that GM is keeping Opel, the fact that Maximum Bob is taking over worries me a bit. If he had as much influence over GM’s new products as he (and GM) claims he had, then maybe there’s no reason to sweat over it. If not, then when the people responsible are forced out, then what? GM of the ’80s? I hope not, that’s a scary thought.

  • avatar
    spyspeed

    The problem with this is that Lutz is currently GM’s only Detroit executive who doesn’t live completely in a bubble. Lutz will enjoy easier access to Cubans, though.

  • avatar
    Vega

    So not enough meddling from Detroit is what held Opel back? BUUUHAHAHAHAHA!

    And for anybody who thinks there is even a remote chance for success from Bob’s “inside knowledge” of what sells in Europe, I have two words:

    Cadillac BLS

    The striking Opel workers have the right instinct: The more Opel strategy is independent from Detroit marketing geniuses, the better the chances of survival.

  • avatar
    rnc

    The striking Opel workers have the right instinct: The more Opel strategy is independent from Detroit marketing geniuses, the better the chances of survival.

    In contrast to Ford’s strategy that has brought the two groups closer than they have ever been, with both gaining marketshare.

    They can’t be independent, the cost structures won’t support it, they are either going to have to do it together or both will continue dying.

  • avatar
    CarPerson

    If he can sneak in a 2012 Opel Manta for those of us that really drove ours hard, his time on this earth will be fully redeamed.

  • avatar
    Vega

    @rnc: In contrast to Ford’s strategy that has brought the two groups closer than they have ever been, with both gaining marketshare.

    Yes, but only caused by INCREASING the independence of Ford Europe in design and marketing decisions. Nobody’s talking about not realizing cost synergies.

    Ford learned this lesson the hard way: When Detroit tried to cut development costs in Europe in the early 90s, the result was an american style Escort “redesign” (i.e. optical modifications without technical improvements) that was slaughtered in the marketplace by the then-new Golf 3 and Opel Astra. After that, Detroit was willing to stop cutting corners and really listen to what Ford Europe had to say. The result was the successful Focus.

    Looking at the state of GM’s corporate culture, I fear it will be Ford Europe 1990 all over again…

  • avatar
    hwyhobo

    Vega wrote:
    I’m sure that whole “global warming crock of shit” shtick is going to work extreemely well in Europe…

    It will when the ice cap starts rolling from the North.

  • avatar
    Cammy Corrigan

    Vega’s right. The only reason Ford has prospered in Europe is because they hired European designers, engineers and marketeers to make Ford Europe…well, European. This is why Vauxhall has done well for GM. Because it remained (relatively) independent of Detroit.

    Had Ford tried to bring cost synergies and other such management tosh, I don’t think Ford Europe would have been anywhere near as strong as it is now.

    As good as the Fusion may be, it would get massacred against the Mondeo.

    Toyota tried essentially Japanese cars in Europe and although people respected the reliability, it lacked the spark which Europeans wanted, which is why Toyota started building, designing and engineering their cars in European and started getting the respect they deserved with the Yaris (one of the best small cars available in Europe) and the Avensis (which may not be up to the standard of the Mondeo) but can hold its own. True is the same of the Tundra. Only when Toyota let American designers, engineers and builders loose on it, did it gain some (note, “some”) respectability as a viable pick-up truck.

    But Maximum Bob is a proponent of European style cars (Hence, The Cadillac CTS), so maybe Vauxhall will bring the best out of him yet.

  • avatar
    mtymsi

    So let’s see, Wagoner, Lutz and LaNeve gone leaving only Henderson and Docherty on deck. Maybe there is something to the “new” GM’s rapid decision making process after all (excluding Wagoner’s demise). Here’s to hoping Henderson’s next folllowed shortly by Docherty. Now if Whitacre can recruit some outside talent I’d give GM’s chances of survival a lot better odds.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    Somehow I don’t think Opel’s competition is the least bit worried about this. Opel employees might want to start considering options like new careers and saving money for a rainy day.

  • avatar
    Spanner77

    I think Bob Lutz is respected here in Europe because he is a genuine car guy. Having said that this will also smack from over here of the Yanks re-establishing their authority when in fact they’ve got none (what a shambles the US auto industry is).

    And indeed it’ll be Opel models, which are top of the class over here in their sectors, that’ll be bailing out Government Motors with their up to date European technology.

    So very mixed feelings here for very sound reasons.

  • avatar
    50merc

    I’m not sure Lutz will have a chance to focus his efforts on turning Opel around. It’s been reported at TTAC that it takes him a l-o-n-g time to empty his bladder, and the Germans make wonderful beer…

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Can we get Bob to take Susan with him?

  • avatar
    PeteMoran

    Does anyone know the story behind that photo?

    Paul?

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    PeteMoran,

    As per the original article:

    Bob Lutz standing triumphantly over an Opel Kadett that he flipped during high-speed testing on a German track.

  • avatar
    joeaverage

    So how much money did Germany blow trying to manage the Opel sale? Just curious exactly how pissed they are.

    Lutz may be the only guy at GM that sees the value in the Holdens and Opels in America.

    I hope I’m so busy at 77 – that is, not managing the house waste basket emptying schedule and worrying about when I’m going to load/unload the dishwasher.


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