Reborn GM Brings Back Bob Lutz and Partners with Ebay
With its CEO Fritz Henderson promising to slim it down even further, speed it up even more and do everything possible to better focus its product lineup while expediting a rapid return to profitability, the "new" GM has emerged from structured bankruptcy in a whirlwind 40 days. Along with delineating a number of internal shakeups that will materially impact future operations of the now "General Motors Company," Henderson made two surprise announcements. The first of these baby bombshells involved the formal "unretirement" of the legendary Bob Lutz, who'd tenured his resignation as Vice Chairman of Global Product Development prior to the firm's transition into Chapter 11. Henderson said the 77-year old Lutz has agreed to forego his anticipated end-of-2009 departure to stay on as vice chairman and be responsible for all creative elements of product and customer relationships. Lutz, who championed the importance of high-profile vehicles like the Cadillac CTS-V and the Chevy Volt, will work in concert with Tom Stephens who had been named as his replacement and Ed Welburn, GM's vice-president of design. In his new capacity, Lutz will report to Henderson and be in charge of guiding all creative aspects of design as well as ensuring that the marketing, advertising and communications of the company's four remaining brands -- Buick Cadillac, Chevrolet and GMC -- reflect consistent messaging.
The second major departure from previous "GM think" involves exploring an entirely new approach to future marketing channels. Seeking a way to more conveniently reach potential customers "on their time and their terms," Henderson said the firm has "entered into an innovative new partnership with eBay in California to revolutionize how people buy vehicles online. Customers will be able to bid on actual vehicles just like they do in an eBay auction, including the option of choosing a predetermined 'buy it now' price." He sees GM testing this approach and several others with its dealers during the next few weeks, and anticipates expanding and building on the results in the months ahead.