Now they tell us. When General Motors Corp. startled the auto world a year ago by recruiting then 69-year-old Robert A. (Bob) Lutz to come aboard to head up product development, it was understood to be a 3-year deal.

Now Lutz says the pact was “open-ended” all along, and that he “can't imagine not working in this industry in a responsible job into my late 70s,” adding that “hypothetically” he could remain with GM for many more years. “It was never three and out,” he tells reporters following his remarks at the Traverse City Management Briefing Seminars.

“I would not want to leave before the system and success curves” are moving up. Lutz does not elaborate on when those marks might be achieved, but says even if he works another seven, eight or nine years in the industry, it'll be with GM and no other auto maker.