ROBERT LUTZ can expect more than a jolt when he takes over at Exide Corp.
The former Chrysler vice chairman takes over 1 December as chief executive of the giant US battery maker - and faces issues ranging from an investigation by prosecutors in the state of Florida to the problems of forecasting weather conditions.
But analysts see an opportunity for the former auto company executive to turn around the supplier, based in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.
'Lutz brings guts,' said one analyst, who expects Lutz to use Exide as a platform to build a large, diversified auto parts supplier. Lutz succeeds Arthur Hawkins, who resigned 15 October after leading the company for nine years .
But Lutz faces an array of problems. Earnings forecasts are difficult due to the extreme weather sensitivity of battery sales. But perhaps the most pressing is a civil investigation into Exide by the Florida Attorney General. Investigators are looking into the sale of defective and used batteries; mislabeling of batteries; the proper crediting of customers' accounts; and misleading investor information. Exide has denied any wrongdoing.
Lutz has 'one heck of a challenge' ahead of him, according an analyst. 'But we have never known him to shy away from one.'