80th International Motor Show,March 2010 Geneva, Switzerland – Robert A. “BobLutz is Vice Chairman at General Motors Company. For now.

We were having lunch (Gruyere fondue) at the Chalet de Gruyeres in Gruyeres, Switzerland when Bob told us he was retiring. “They’re announcing it tomorrow, but it won’t be effective till May 1st.” Anyone who knows Bob isn’t surprised that he didn’t wait till the announcement came out. It’s what we love about him.

Here is part of the interview I did with Lutz that evening.

Lutz is leaving before an IPO is coming out. Does he think they should do it now?

Lutz championed the Chevy Volt, sometimes through hostility inside General Motors. Why isn’t he staying till the Volt comes out?

Here is the press release for Lutz’s retirement from General Motors.

DETROIT “ General Motors Vice Chairman Robert A. Lutz will retire effective May 1, 2010, capping a 47-year career in the global auto industry that included senior leadership positions at four of the worlds leading automakers.

Lutz, 78, rejoined GM September 1, 2001, as the head of product development, and has led the companys resurgence in developing great cars and trucks.  He also worked at BMW, Chrysler and Ford.

“The influence Bob Lutz has had on GMs commitment to design, build and sell the worlds best vehicles will last for years to come,” GM CEO and Chairman Ed Whitacre said.  “I, along with many other men and women in GM and throughout the industry, have greatly benefited from his passion, wisdom and guidance.”

Lutz said he decided to retire now in part because hot-selling vehicles like the Buick LaCrosse, Cadillac SRX, GMC Terrain, Chevrolet Equinox and Chevrolet Camaro, along with the growing strength of GMs four brands, prove that a product-focused mindset inside the company is in place for the long term.

“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,” Lutz said.  “Our product lineup is as strong as it has been in GMs 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 Whitacres leadership, the straightforward, singular focus on product will endure.”

Lutz, a GM vice chairman, was appointed senior advisor in December 2009 and will continue to provide guidance on design and key product initiatives until he retires May 1.