GM CEO Wagoner Takes Over N.American Car Operation

General Motors Corp. (GM) said on Monday that Chief Executive Rick Wagoner (search) will assume the leadership of automotive operations in North America, where the car company has been losing money and market share.

Bob Lutz (search), chairman of GM North America, and Gary Cowger, president of GM North America, will relinquish their roles and focus full-time on global responsibilities. Lutz will lead GM's global product development activities, and Cowger will focus on global manufacturing and labor.

The moves follow last month's warning by the Detroit automaker that its earnings this year would be as much as 80 percent below its forecast, due to U.S. market share losses to foreign competitors and climbing health-care costs.

"Given the challenges we face in North America, it makes sense for me to assume control of GMNA's (General Motors North America) day-to-day operations and shorten the lines of communication and decision-making," Wagoner said in a statement.

Last month, GM reorganized its global vehicle development and engineering operations, combining four different regions into a single system to speed up the launch of new cars and trucks.

"Now's the right time to accelerate the global integration of two of our most important functions, product development and manufacturing/labor," Wagoner said.

GM's weaker North American operations had sent its bond rating down to just one step above "junk" status at two ratings agencies, and its stock price to its lowest level in more than 13 years.

Last week, GM posted a 1.3 percent drop in its U.S. sales, with weaker results for some of its most profitable vehicles -- mid-size and full-size sport utility vehicles.