Bob Lutz, the iconic and often polemic Vice Chairman of General Motors' global product development team, has announced he will be retiring from the company at the end of 2009. Until then, Lutz will adopt a new role as Vice Chairman and Senior Advisor starting April 1.

During his 46 year career in the automotive industry, Lutz has worked for all three of the major U.S. automakers, plus BMW. His roles have included Chairman of Ford Europe during the 1980s, President and COO, later Vice Chairman at Chrysler, and a number of other high-powered roles. Lutz was instrumental in the development of such hits for GM as the Pontiac Solstice, Chevrolet Volt, and the importation of the Pontiac G8 and GTO and the Saturn Astra. For Chrysler, Lutz was at the helm of the work on the Dodge Viper and Plymouth Prowler.

“Bob Lutz was already a legendary automotive product guy when he rejoined GM in 2001,” Wagoner said, “and he’s added to that by leading the creation of a string of award-winning vehicles for GM during his time here. His 46 years of experience in the global automotive business have been invaluable to us. I’ve personally learned a great deal from Bob and have very much enjoyed the time we’ve worked together."

Lutz's replacement has been named as Thomas G. Stephens, who will report to President and COO Fritz Henderson. Lutz will continue to report to Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner until his retirement.

“Tom Stephens is the perfect guy to take the reins of GM’s global product development,” said Wagoner. “He’s had extensive experience in virtually every aspect of our global product development activities. With his 40 years at GM, Tom has an extraordinary understanding of our products and our organization, and is highly respected worldwide. I’m confident that with Tom’s passion for great products and vast knowledge of advanced propulsion, he will continue to raise the bar in executing outstanding GM cars and trucks.