General Motors says it's just moving the right people into the right places.
But recent personnel moves are changing the responsibilities of GM Vice Chairman Robert Lutz, 73 -- fueling speculation that GM is starting to prepare for a post-Lutz GM.
Until last week, GM's global vehicle line executives reported to Lutz on matters of design, manufacturing and future products. Now they report to Jon Lauckner, 47, who was named vice president of global program management, a new position. Lauckner, who had been in charge of mid-sized platforms, reports to Lutz.
And a month ago Lutz was freed of his duties as chairman of North America to focus exclusively on global product development.
So is GM getting ready for the day when Lutz hangs it up?
A GM spokesman says the move allows Lutz to focus exclusively on big-picture global development and is simply the "latest piece in GM's global puzzle."
When Lutz came out of retirement in September 2001, he signed a three-year contract. When that expired last fall he switched to a renewable one-year deal.