Former GM President, First to Champion EVs, Dies

Former GM President Lloyd Reuss, left, his son, GM North America President Mark Reuss, center, and Penske Corp. Chairman Roger Penske, right, at a news conference Oct. 12, 2011. Photo by John F. Martin, Chevrolet.

Lloyd Reuss, a former president of General Motors and father of the current GM president, died April 21.

Published reports say Reuss was 86. He served as GM's president in the early 1990s and was the father of GM's current President Mark Reuss, who is also head of regional and international operations, global product development, quality and design. Mark Reuss has been president since January 2019.

GM confirmed Lloyd Reuss' passing and issued the following statement on April 22 from CEO Mary Barra, "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.” A cause of death was not released.

Corvette collector, GM dealer and NASCAR team owner Rick Hendrick also released a statement April 22 calling Lloyd Reuss a pillar of the auto industry.

"A true ‘car guy’ and optimist, he was always there to support dealers and stood tall as a champion of General Motors’ auto racing programs," said Hendrick, CEO of Hendrick Automotive Group and owner of Hendrick Motorsports. "His passion for GM was exceeded only by his love for family and community. I see many of his greatest qualities reflected in Mark.”

On Aug. 1, 1990, GM named Lloyd Reuss president. He was an early supporter of the GM Impact, a concept car that debuted at the 1990 Los Angeles Auto Show. It became the GM EV1, the predecessor to today’s electric vehicles, according to GM's biography on Lloyd Reuss.

Reuss began his career at GM in 1957 after a two-year stint in the U.S. Army as a first lieutenant in the Army Corps of Engineers. A mechanical engineer by trade, Reuss worked his way up to jobs such as chief engineer at both Buick and Chevrolet in the 1970s. He also served as the general manager of Buick starting in 1980, leading the division to an all-time sales record in 1983. He later became the head of GM’s North American passenger car groups. That followed by leading North American operations and worldwide automotive components.

Reuss was demoted from president in 1992 and retired in 1993 at age 56. According to Automotive News, Reuss and then CEO Robert Stempel, who was the first engineer to hold GM's top job since the 1950s, were forced out when GM's board and its director, John Smale, purged the executive ranks.

GM's bio called Reuss "a true GM man" whose family had four generations with ties to the company. His father ran a Chevrolet dealership in Illinois, where Reuss was born. His son, Mark, until recently had occupied his father's former office as president. Lloyd Reuss' daughter, Charlene Reuss Grandelius, worked in GM purchasing from 1982 to 1995. His granddaughter, Amanda, has held various positions in GM Communications and Marketing.

After retiring, Reuss joined Focus: HOPE, the Detroit nonprofit that fights racism by providing education and training to minority communities. At Focus: HOPE, he helped establish the Center for Advanced Technologies, which led to more than 300 underserved students earning associate's and bachelor’s degrees in engineering, GM's bio said.

We thank the Detroit Free Press for reprint permission.

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