Fritz Henderson haunts Los Angeles keynote

The ouster of Fritz Henderson from General Motors kept the former president and CEO from delivering his scheduled keynote address at the 2009 LA auto show, but he certainly had a presence here this morning.

-Brochures listing the show’s press events had Fritz’s name on the schedule, clearly printed long ago. But even more interesting was the misspelling of his last name, identifying him as “Henerson” rather than Henderson.

-Signs placed throughout the convention center directing media toward the keynote address were patched with “Bob Lutz” tags, undoubtedly masking Henderson’s name.

-Aaron Robinson of Car and Driver kicked off the keynote, introducing himself as president of the Motor Press Guild, as far as he knew…at least as of five minutes ago.

-Preceding Bob Lutz’s keynote, president and CEO of the Auto Alliance, Dave McCurdy, stated that automakers and executives, including Fritz Henderson, showed “tremendous courage and foresight” for agreeing to new fuel economy and emissions regulations.

-Lutz, vice chairman of marketing and communications at GM, replaced Henderson as keynote speaker and kicked off his speech with rather lengthy remarks, lighthearted yet sincere, on yesterday’s news. After jokingly apologizing that GM’s not providing enough fodder to the media lately, Lutz stated, “All of us were surprised and the whole GM team is saddened by what transpired.”

-Bob Lutz also prefaced his speech by saying he’d be accepting questions, but would be “like Teflon” if asked about Henderson. Sure enough, when asked if GM had chosen an inappropriate time to announce Henderson’s departure with his looming keynote, Lutz playfully pretended not to understand, then asked for the next question.