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GM's Lutz may retire, Reuss to head sales and marketing, Cadillac's Nesbitt reassigned [Update #2]

by Mark Kleis

Mark Reuss, former chairman and managing director of Holden, recently brought to America as president of North American operations, has now been placed in-charge of a new sales division for GM's North American brands. GM has also reassigned the head of Cadillac, Bryan Nesbitt, to the role of executive director.

Reuss had only been president of North American operations since December, but he has already been given additional responsibilities due to what some speculate was a slow sales month for February. The former sales and marketing boss, Susan Docherty, has been downgraded to head the marketing division - sans sales responsibilities. To complete (for now) the management shakeup, former Chrysler PT Cruiser designer-turned Cadillac chief has been reassigned to his old role of executive director, advanced concept group, reporting to vice president of global design, Ed Welburn.

According to a confirmed press release by GM, Bryan Nesbitt, who was promoted to Cadillac general manager following the bankruptcy, will now be relieved of his duties. Nesbitt joined GM in April 2001 as chief designer for the Chevrolet brand - in January 2002 Nesbitt was appointed executive director in design and body-frame integral structures for GM North America. Nesbitt spent six years penning designs for GM Europe before being named vice president of design for GM North America. Then, following the bankruptcy restructuring, Nesbitt was placed as the head of Cadillac - championed largely by Bob Lutz.

While attending the 2010 Geneva Motor Show, Lutz publicly said that he is giving "active consideration" to retirement. "The reason I am giving it active consideration this time is because I honestly feel I can look back with satisfaction and say the team I was privileged to lead in product development has actually achieved more than what I would have hoped for," Lutz said to Reuters during an interview on the sidelines of the Geneva Motor Show.

Lutz' comments about his possible retirement come as the car he strongly campaigned for - . At the same time, the man Lutz helped rise to become the head of Cadillac, Bryan Nesbitt, looks to have also been "canceled." Lutz says his consideration for retirement stems from his feeling of accomplishment, but it appears as if his lack of clout in the organization may also be playing a deciding role.

GM's new CEO, Ed Whitacre, promised that his sales and marketing team would produce results in a timely manner when he took the helm of the automaker. Now, according to Automotive News, this prompt change from Docherty to Reuss shows that Whitacre has grown impatient with the lack of prompt results with what Whitacre views as a high quality lineup of GM products.

GM's shakeup in the sales and marketing realm is not the first in recent months - Docherty has only been in that role since October 16, 2009, when then chief of sales and marketing, Reuss has only been in North America since December, and he will be taking on the new responsibilities in addition to his current list of responsibilities. Docherty, now downgraded, will report to Reuss.

GM also explained their intent is to create an intense focus back on the customer with their recent changes to personnel and structure. "It's become extremely clear to me since taking this role that there is a better way to structure this organization," said Mark Reuss, GM North America president. "The premise of the structure is simple - a clearer marketing focus to sell more vehicles, and freeing our sales and service experts to focus on customers and dealers."

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