AP - Press Release

DETROIT, Aug. 2 - General Motors Corp. has hired former Chrysler Corp. executive Robert Lutz as vice chairman in charge of product development, the automaker announced Thursday.

LUTZ, WHO SERVED as vice chairman with Chrysler, has agreed to a three-year deal in a move intended to help the world's largest automaker reinvigorate its product development.

Tom Davis, the group vice president for product development, will retire in the first quarter of next year after 37 years with the automaker. Wayne Cherry, vice president of the design center, will report to Lutz, GM said. "I was incredibly impressed with his (Lutz') continuing passion and enthusiasm for cars and trucks and the auto industry in general," Rick Wagoner, GM president and CEO, said in a statement.

Lutz will work closely with Ron Zarrella, head of GM North America in developing products for the North American market and will report directly to Wagoner. Lutz also will oversee development of GM's global product portfolio.

Wes Brown, an analyst with consulting firm Nextrend, said recently, "Most of GM's cars are dead in the marketplace. They're rather boring and do not appeal to young people."

Lutz, who comes to GM from battery-making Exide Technologies, where he served as chairman and chief executive, was a key player in Chrysler's resurgence since its brush with bankruptcy in the early 1980s. He retired as the company's vice chairman in July 1998 - between the time the merger with Daimler-Benz was announced and when it was completed.

"I'm taking this job because it is truly a once in a lifetime - the opportunity to help in the ongoing rebuilding of not just an American icon but a global icon," Lutz said.

A release issued by Exide said Lutz has resigned as CEO of the Princeton, N.J., firm effective Sept. 1, but will remain as chairman of the company.

Current Exide president Craig Mulhauser will add the title of CEO, the release says.

Lutz is an ex-Marine who often clashed with Lee Iacocca during Iacocca's tenure as Chrysler chairman. Lutz's career included stints with GM, BMW AG and Ford Motor Co. He joined Chrysler in 1986.

In 1998, Lutz published a book, titled "Guts: The Seven Laws of Business That Made Chrysler the World's Hottest Car Company."


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