By BridgeNews General Motors Corp. has chosen Bob Lutz, the former Chrysler president credited with helping the automaker develop the Dodge Intrepid and Chrysler Concorde, to head its own product development effort. GM said Aug. 2 it has appointed Lutz as vice chairman responsible for product development. Lutz has signed a three-year contract with the world's largest automaker, which takes effect Sept. 1. Lutz will report directly to GM President and CEO Rick Wagoner and will sit on GM's powerful automotive strategy and North America strategy boards. Lutz replaces Tom Davis, a 37-year GM veteran, who has opted to retire from his position as group vice president of product development in the first quarter of next year. "GM needs an executive with the visibility of Bob Lutz," says David Bradley, an auto analyst with J.P. Morgan. "The designers will be delighted. This will help the design team get more clout." Lutz joined the former Chrysler Corp. in 1986. He became president and chief operating officer in 1991, moving up to vice chairman in 1996. He kept that position until Germany's Daimler-Benz acquired Chrysler in 1998. Lutz said he took the job with GM to help restore the company to its former status as a product leader in the industry. "I still have quite a bit of gasoline in my veins," Lutz says. "I relish this opportunity to finish out my career as a day-to-day executive."