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Robert Anthony Lutz (born February 12, 1932) is a Swiss American automotive executive. He served as a top leader of all of the United States Big Three (automobile manufacturers), having been in succession executive vice president (and board member) of Ford Motor Company, president and then vice chairman (and board member) of Chrysler Corporation, and vice chairman of General Motors.

Early life

Lutz was born in Zurich, Switzerland, the son of Margaret and Robert Harry Lutz.[1] His father was a vice chairman of Credit Suisse.[2] Lutz left Switzerland at the age of seven and spent time in Scarsdale, New York,[3] becoming a U.S. citizen in 1943, and returned to Switzerland in 1947 to attend school in Lausanne.[4] He is fluent in English, Swiss German, German, French and has a modest fluency in Italian.

Lutz received a bachelor's degree in production management in 1961 followed by an MBA with a concentration in marketing with highest honors in 1962, both from the University of California, Berkeley; he earned the latter when he was flying in the United States Marine Corps Reserve's 4th Marine Aircraft Wing and supporting two of four young daughters by selling vacuum cleaners in Walnut Creek, California. He also received an honorary Doctorate of Law from Boston University in 1985, and an honorary degree of Doctor of Management from Kettering University in 2003.[5] He is a trustee of the Marine Corps University Foundation and the Marine Military Academy.[6]

Career

After leaving the Marines, Lutz spent eight years with GM in Europe before joining BMW serving as executive vice president of sales at BMW[7] for three years. He takes some credit in the development of the BMW 3 Series as well as their Motorsport division.

Lutz was also an executive vice president at Ford Motor Company. At Ford of Europe, he led the creation of the Ford Escort III, and Ford Sierra, and upon returning to the US in 1985, initiated development of the original Ford Explorer, and was a member of Ford's board of directors. He was a frequent internal political rival of eventual Ford CEO Red Poling.

Lutz became head of Chrysler Corporation's Global Product Development, including the very successful Dodge Viper and LH series cars. Former Chrysler chairman and CEO Lee Iacocca, who helped steer the company back to profitability after receiving loans from private banks backed by the U.S. Government in 1979, said he should have picked Lutz as his successor rather than Bob Eaton upon Iacocca's retirement at the end of 1992, but at the time Iacocca and Lutz were not getting along. Eaton was responsible for the sale of Chrysler to Daimler-Benz in 1998 which Daimler ended up backing out of in 2007 when it sold Chrysler to Cerberus Capital Management. Referring to the job performance of Eaton, Iacocca claimed that Lutz "would eat him for lunch".[8]

While at General Motors, Lutz championed the import of the Holden Monaro to the United States as the Pontiac GTO. Other cars such as the Cadillac Sixteen Concept; Saturn Sky and Pontiac Solstice; Pontiac G8; Zurich, Switzerland, the son of Margaret and Robert Harry Lutz.[1] His father was a vice chairman of Credit Suisse.[2] Lutz left Switzerland at the age of seven and spent time in Scarsdale, New York,[3] becoming a U.S. citizen in 1943, and returned to Switzerland in 1947 to attend school in Lausanne.[4] He is fluent in English, Swiss German, German, French and has a modest fluency in Italian.

Lutz received a bachelor's degree in production management in 1961 followed by an MBA with a concentration in marketing with highest honors in 1962, both from the University of California, Berkeley; he earned the latter when he was flying in the United States Marine Corps Reserve's 4th Marine Aircraft Wing and supporting two of four young daughters by selling vacuum cleaners in Walnut Creek, California. He also received an honorary Doctorate of Law from Boston University in 1985, and an honorary degree of Doctor of Management from Kettering University in 2003.[5] He is a trustee of the Marine Corps University Foundation and the Marine Military Academy.[6]

Career

Lutz has authored three books. Guts: the 7 Laws of Business that Made Chrysler the World's Hottest Car Company in 1998, later revised in 2003 to the management and leadership book, Guts: 8 Laws of Business from One of the Most Innovative Business Leaders of Our Time is partially based on his experience as a US Marine Corps aviator. His 2011 book, Car Guys vs. Bean Counters: The Battle for the Soul of American Business, is about his experiences in the US automobile industry. It attained third place in the New York Times "Business Hardcover" category and fifth on the Wall Street Journal list. His 2013 book, Icons and Idiots: Straight Talk on Leadership is about his personal experiences with leaders and their leadership talents and foibles. It is a compendium from Lutz's more than sixty years of observation of inspirational leaders and an analysis of what made the great ones successful at what they did.

Personal life

Lutz is known as a collector of classic automobiles and military jets. Among other aircraft, he owns and pilots an Aero L-39 Albatros (an advanced Czechoslovakian jet fighter trainer) and an MD-500 helicopter. Further, he maintains a collection of motorcycles that include a Suzuki Hayabusa, a BMW K1200RS, a BMW K1200S, a BMW R1100S, a BMW K-1 and a BMW HP2 Sport.

His younger brother Mark A. Lutz is a retired economics professor.

Lutz was interviewed in the 2011 documentary, Revenge of the Electric Car.

In 2012, Lutz reconfirmed his non-belief in global warming and denied the scientific consensus on climate change while being interviewed by Bill Maher.

See alsoLutz is known as a collector of classic automobiles and military jets. Among other aircraft, he owns and pilots an Aero L-39 Albatros (an advanced Czechoslovakian jet fighter trainer) and an MD-500 helicopter. Further, he maintains a collection of motorcycles that include a Suzuki Hayabusa, a BMW K1200RS, a BMW K1200S, a BMW R1100S, a BMW K-1 and a BMW HP2 Sport.

His younger brother Mark A. Lutz is a retired economics professor.

Lutz was interviewed in the 2011 documentary, Revenge of the Electric Car.

In 2012, Lutz reconfirmed his non-belief in global warming and denied the scientific consensus on climate change while being interviewed by Bill Maher.

See also