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Reitzle Says He Turned Down Job Offer from GM's Lutz in Exclusive Interview with Global Auto Insider

DETROIT, May 24 -- In an exclusive interview this week with Global Auto Insider, a publication of Global Auto Systems, former Ford Premier Automotive Group chief Wolfgang Reitzle says he was offered a job at General Motors by Vice Chairman Bob Lutz, running GM's Opel and Saab units. If he had accepted, he says, he could have been Lutz's successor at GM after 2004.

Global Auto Insider ( ), the respected weekly industry newsletter, is publishing a frank and wide-ranging interview this week with Reitzle, who left Ford last month to head up the German engineering firm Linde AG. In the interview, conducted by the Insider's German correspondent Georg Kacher, Reitzle reveals that he was offered the opportunity to "jump ship" and go to General Motors. The offer, he said, was made directly to him by Lutz, GM's product development czar.

Reitzle also says he believes GM is preparing to take over Fiat this summer and that he likely would have run Fiat Auto as well if he had accepted the job. GM and Ford spokesmen have declined to confirm Reitzle's statements, but Kacher says, without naming them, that "multiple sources" do confirm their accuracy. "In a second step," Kacher writes, "Reitzle would have had the opportunity to succeed Lutz in 2004."

In the interview, Reitzle also said Ford offered him a new job in charge of the company's global research and development activities, in a last-minute effort to keep him. Reitzle would have continued as PAG chief while adding the new responsibilities. This offer, Reitzle said, came too late to convince him to stay.

Reitzle says he declined the GM offer on April 15, only a few days before his April 17 resignation from Ford and the announcement he would head up Linde. He comments in this interview: "I'd rather be captain on a destroyer than first officer on an aircraft carrier. Being in charge at the top level is something I have not done before."

The interview can be viewed in its entirety on the Global Auto Net Web site: .

Global Auto Systems is a research, consulting and publishing firm with offices in Detroit, Los Angeles, and Seoul.