Robert A. Lutz, who served as a jet-attack aviator in the United States Marine Corps from 1954-1965 and attained the rank of captain, was named chairman of GM North America on November 13, 2001. He continues to serve as vice chairman of product development at General Motors Corporation, a post to which he was appointed earlier that year.
Prior to joining GM on September 1, 2001, Lutz was chairman and chief executive officer of Exide Technologies, a battery manufacturer. He retains the chairman position. He also was co-founder of luxury-car designer Cunningham Motor. Lutz joined Exide after a distinguished career with the former Chrysler Corporation from 1986-1998, where he reached the position of vice chairman. Lutz also served as president and COO, responsible for Chrysler's car and truck operations worldwide.
Lutz led all of Chrysler's automotive activities, including sales, marketing, product development, manufacturing, and procurement and supply. He reinvigorated Chrysler's product line to help steer it away from bankruptcy in early 1990s, and is credited with being the father of the Dodge Viper sports car and the PT Cruiser.
He began his service with Chrysler in 1986 as executive vice president and was shortly thereafter elected to the Chrysler Corporation Board. His 12 years with the company are chronicled in his 1998 book, Guts: The Seven Laws of Business That Made Chrysler the World's Hottest Car Company.
Before Chrysler, Lutz spent 12 years at Ford Motor Company, where his last position was executive vice president of truck operations. He also served as chairman of Ford of Europe and as executive vice president of Ford's international operations. From 1982-1986, Lutz was a member of Ford's board.
Lutz, who was born in Zurich, Switzerland, in 1932, began his automotive career in 1963 at GM, where he held a variety of senior positions in Europe until 1970. For the next three years, he served as executive vice president of sales at BMW in Munich and as a member of that company's board of management.
"With his patrician manner and rugged good looks--ramrod straight posture, a thick brush of silver-white hair and a smile that twists, impishly, from the corners of his mouth--Lutz could be the Marine Reserve's poster boy, the response to (now retired) Air Force Brig. Gen. Chuck Yeager," one trade publication wrote of Lutz."Smart, strong-willed and unabashedly opinionated, Lutz is the proverbial rugged individualist--whether piloting his Czech-made Albatros fighter-trainer, charging a tight corner on a race track or negotiating the labyrinths of the corporate boardroom."
Lutz serves as chairman of The New Common School Foundation and as a trustee of the Michigan Cancer Foundation. He is also a member of the board of trustees for the U.S. Marine Corps University Foundation and the Marine Military Academy in Harlingen, Texas.
Lutz received his bachelor's degree in production science from the University of California-Berkeley in 1961, where he earned distinction as a Phi Beta Kappa. He received a master's degree in business administration, with highest honors, from the University of California-Berkeley in 1962.
(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)