DETROIT, Nov. 30 (UPI) -- Roger B. Smith, who led General Motors as chairman and chief executive in the 1980s, died Thursday in the Detroit area after a brief illness. He was 82.
Smith directed GM during a time of new environmental and safety standards and increased competition from import auto brands. He retired on July 31, 1990.
Before he stepped down he was the subject of Michael Moore's 1989 documentary "Roger and Me" about life in Flint, Mich., after GM cutbacks.
During Smith's tenure, GM introduced its first front-wheel-drive midsize cars, created the Saturn brand, formed the NUMMI joint venture with Toyota to manufacture cars in California and acquired Electronic Data Systems and Hughes Aircraft Corp., the Detroit Free Press reported.
"Roger Smith led GM during a period of tremendous innovation in the industry," GM Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner said in a statement. "He was a leader who knew that we have to accept change, understand change, and learn to make it work for us. Roger was truly a pioneer in the fast-moving global industry that we now take for granted."
Smith was born July 12, 1925, in Columbus, Ohio.