Lloyd Reuss obituary: Former GM president championed engineering

DETROIT — Lloyd Reuss, a mechanical engineer who rose to become General Motors president in the early 1990s, died on Friday. He was 86.

Reuss, a classic company man with sharp political instincts and a passion for performance, was the father of Mark Reuss, GM’s current president and head of the automaker’s regional and international operations, global product development programs, quality and design.

Mark Reuss posted the news of his father’s death on Facebook.

Lloyd Reuss became GM president on Aug. 1, 1990, as part of incoming Chairman Robert Stempel’s executive team.

As president, he was an early supporter of the GM Impact, a concept car that debuted at the 1990 Los Angeles Auto Show, and became the GM EV1, a forerunner to today’s EVs.

Mary Barra, GM chair and CEO, in a statement, called Lloyd Reuss “a talented executive and leader of GM and .. a strong force for good in the community with his service, dedication and tireless efforts on behalf of others.”

Rick Hendrick, chairman and CEO of Hendrick Automotive Group and owner of Hendrick Motorsports, called 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,” Hendrick said in a tribute Saturday.

The pairing of Stamp and Reuss, two “car guys” with engineering roots during a period when top GM executives often rose through the finance staff, was heralded as the start of a new era at the automaker.

Instead, Reuss, an inveterate believer in GM’s longtime market dominance and industry influence, was demoted less than two years later, in April 1992. And he and Stempel, the first engineer to become GM’s chairman and CEO since the 1950s, were pushed out in the fall of that year when GM’s board, led by lead outside director John Smale, decided to clean house across the company’s top ranks.