BREAKING: Bob Lutz to retire from GM at the end of 2009

Of all the auto executives that have been leaving the auto industry, it’s General Motors Vice Chairman and head of Global Product Development Robert A. Lutz’s announcement of retiring that touches us the most. GM CEO Rick Wagoner said today that Bob Lutz will take a new role starting April 1, 2009 as Vice Chairman and Senior Advisor.

Lutz, 76, will stay in the role until his retirement at the end of 2009, Wagoner said in a statement. He said that the GM Board of Directors elected Thomas G. Stephens to take Lutz’s role as Vice Chairman and head of Global Product Development. He will report to COO Fritz Henderson.

And now a word from Rick Wagoner:

“Bob Lutz was already a legendary automotive product guy when he rejoined GM in 2001 – 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. I”m looking forward to Bob”s continued contributions to GM for the remainder of 2009 ““ and I know the impact of his efforts leading GM global product development will continue for years to come.”