Former GM CEO Stempel dies at age 77 image

Bob Stempel, the engineer who took over as CEO of General Motors after the much-maligned Roger Smith, has died at 77.

Stempel held the top jobs at what was then General Motors Corp. from Aug. 1, 1990 to Nov. 1, 1992, when the company’s board ousted him after becoming displeased with the pace of his efforts to restructure the faltering auto giant.

“The General Motors family mourns the passing of Bob Stempel, who admirably led the company during very difficult times in the early 1990s,” GM said in a statement. “Bob was a very popular chairman with employees, and his many accomplishments as a visionary engineer included leading the development of the catalytic converter, one of the great environmental advancements in auto history.”

GM credited him with development of the EV1, GM’s far-sighted but limited electric car of the 1990s.

“His knowledge of battery development led to the push for the EV1 electric car, and Bob continued to build his expertise in the electrification of the automobile after he left GM in 1992.”

He subsequently joined investor Stan Ovshinsky as CEO of the Energy Conversion Devices, a firm Ovshinsky had founded decades earlier, which did pioneering work in electric vehicle batteries, solar panels and other alternative energy technology.

After the two left ECD, he partnered with Ovshinsky in a new firm, Ovshinky Innovation. Last year, Stempel was selected to the board of directors of Envia Systems, a clean-tech materials firm in Newark, Calif.