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DETROIT — General Motors said Wednesday afternoon that vice chairman Bob Lutz is retiring May 1. In his 47-year career, he served in senior leadership roles with BMW, Chrysler and Ford, in addition to GM.

He began his auto industry career at GM at 1963, eventually making his way back to the automaker in September 2001 as head of product development.

Since then, he served as chairman of GM North America from Nov. 13, 2001 until April 4, 2005. At that point, he headed up global product development.

Additionally, Lutz was the interim president of GM Europe from March 2004 to June 2004.

Then, on April 1 of last year, he was appointed as vice chairman and senior adviser. In this capacity, he provided strategic input for GM's global design and key product initiatives.

Lutz was originally scheduled to continue in that particular role for all of 2009 and then retire at end of last year, but he decided to stay with the new GM in his current position, essentially "un-retiring."

Lutz, who was named senior adviser in December 2009, will continue offer guidance on design and key product initiatives until he officially steps down on May 1.

"The influence Bob Lutz has had on GM's commitment to design, build and sell the world's best vehicles will last for years to come," explained GM chief executive officer and chairman Ed Whitacre. "I, along with many other men and women in GM and throughout the industry, have greatly benefited from his passion, wisdom and guidance."

Lutz added: "I can confidently say that the job I came here to do more than nine years ago is now complete — the team I have been fortunate to lead has far exceeded my expectations. Our product lineup is as strong as it has been in GM's history. 

"The perception of our products and brands is beginning to catch up with reality. And most importantly, the absolute commitment to being a product-driven company is ingrained throughout the organization — from the top down — and I am confident that, under Ed Whitacre's leadership, the straightforward, singular focus on product will endure," he continued.

GM Hires New VP of Communications

In other news from the company, GM announced Wednesday the successor to Chris Preuss as vice president of communications, just a day after reporting that Preuss had been moved to vice president and president of OnStar, among other widespread management shifts.

Called to serve as GM's next vice president of communications is Selim Bingol, who joins the company after serving as senior vice president and senior partner with Fleishman-Hillard. While there, he focused on serving as a senior communications strategist to large international clients throughout a variety of industries.

In his new post, Bingol will take on overall responsibility for the automaker's global communications. These include global products and brands, corporate, public policy, executive support and internal communications.

"I have been fortunate to have great assignments and work with talented professionals throughout my career," Bingol shared. "I am excited to be part of a team that is taking GM to new heights."

Discussing his experience in more depth, officials noted that before his time at Fleishman-Hillard, Bingol was AT&T's senior president of corporate communications.

Before his time with AT&T, Bingol served as vice president of SBC Communications.