Former GM president Lloyd Reuss dies

Corbis/Getty Images

Lloyd Reuss, who started as an engineer with General Motors and rose through the ranks to become its president in 1990, died on Friday.

Reuss graduated from the University of Missouri in 1957 with a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering. He joined GM as an engineer in training and moved to the Chevrolet division as an engineer in December 1959. He then moved to Buick, where he became general manager, turning around the sagging division and scoring record sales in 1983. That success largely led to his appointment as GM president. After Reuss’ retirement at age 56, he became active in charities in Detroit.

Lloyd Reuss Lifetime Achievement Award GM President
Reuss was the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award on January 11, 2017. GM/Steve Fecht

Reuss was “a true ‘car guy’ and optimist, and he was always there to support dealers and stood tall as a champion of General Motors’ auto racing programs,” said Rick Hendrick, CEO of Hendrick Automotive and owner of Hendrick Motorsports, the four-car Chevrolet NASCAR team.

During his tenure as president, Reuss oversaw the GM Impact, a concept car that became the electric EV1, which was far ahead of its time. It debuted in 1990 at the Los Angeles auto show. Had GM continued its electric research at that level, it would likely have had a major advantage over its competitors now.

1997 EV1 red and silver cars

“Lloyd Reuss was a talented executive and leader of GM and was also a strong force for good in the community with his service, dedication and tireless efforts on behalf of others,” GM CEO Mary Barra said. “My thoughts and deepest sympathies, along with those of everyone at General Motors,” are with the Reuss family, she said.

The Automotive Hall of Fame gave Reuss a Distinguished Service Citation Award in 2006, saying that his work for the nonprofit Focus: HOPE were noteworthy. Focus: HOPE CEO William F. Jones said then that Reuss “set the standard for corporate leadership. As successful as he was in the auto industry, he has been equally successful in providing education and training opportunities to thousands of Detroiters.”

At Focus: HOPE, Lloyd helped create the Center for Advanced Technologies, that led to more than 300 underserved students earning associate and bachelor’s degrees in engineering, said The Detroit News.

Reuss’ son, Mark Reuss, is GM’s current president and head of the automaker’s international operations.

Lloyd Reuss was 86.

Lloyd E. Reuss GM pres portrait
Lloyd E. Reuss, 1990. GM




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    Lloyd came to head GM at a very bad time. Things were a total mess and money was very short. Unfortunately he took the blame for many things he did not create and was responsible for. His retirement was more a request from the board.

    In reading ALL Corvettes are Red really outline how Lloyd was a real car guy and he really did not get a fair shake.

    Lloyd is the prime reason we got the GN and T type Buicks. This was his kind of thinking and work.

    He has left a positive mark on GM and I think history judges him much more fairly than the GM board did at the time.

    I think history will look back upon Lloyd’s tenure at GM with much positivity. In my eyes, he tried to kickstart what Lutz accomplished.

    Mark, on the other hand, will always be the GM exec who put a Vette into the wall. No matter what happens, that will hang over him for the rest of his days.

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