|07-15-2009, 03:32 PM||#1|
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Grosse Pointe Farms, MI (suburban Detroit)
Bob Lutz -- "...now the gloves are off..."
Mr. Lutz is why I can't imagine accepting an early retirement.
I may not always agree with him...but he is, in my book, a genius.....and a straight talker - and that's what we need!
It's been a very very tough year -- but I feel optimistic!
By Peter Valdes-Dapena
July 15, 2009
General Motor's Vice-Chairman Bob Lutz is back and he's ready for a fight.
Having reversed his earlier decision to resign rather than work for what he feared would be a government-run company, Lutz, a famously straight talker, promises to take on competitors shot for shot as the carmaker's marketing head.
"I am very much in favor of blunt talk," said Lutz.
No more Mr. Nice Guy. Lutz says he intends to challenge the competition with messages like, "The Chevrolet Equinox has the highest highway fuel economy of any crossover SUV on the market" or "The Cadillac CTS-V is the best performing luxury sedan in the world."
"We've been too reticent to take the gloves off," Lutz said.
Expect fewer ads showing lovely shots of attractive young people driving cars down impossibly empty country roads.
Lutz points to Lee Iacocca, the iconic former Chrysler chief with whom he worked -- and clashed -- during 12 years at Chrysler in the 1980s and '90s, as providing a model for how the direct approach can change minds.
Lutz didn't say he was about to turn pitchman, but Iacocca's famous line, "If you can find a better car, buy it," strikes the tone Lutz wants.
Iacocca's stark challenge forced Americans to reconsider Chrysler products and helped bring that carmaker back from a near-bankruptcy, avoided only with government loan guarantees, in the early 1980s.
A renewed confidence. During a half-hour interview with CNNMoney.com, Lutz was just as blunt about his feelings and fears regarding GM's brush with bankruptcy, which he said was ultimately the best thing that could have happened.
"I was a little demoralized around February or March," he said.
That was when Lutz announced his intent to retire as vice-chairman and head of product development. He was sure the government would take over GM and run it according to a political playbook, he said, and he wanted no part in it.
Products like the new Chevrolet Camaro muscle car, which is now selling faster than the factory can make them, and the Corvette, which remains an iconic car for GM, would have been shoved aside, he feared, because they lack the "green" image politicians and the media like to see.
As it turned out, Lutz said, he was pleasantly surprised when he met with the government's auto task force. Their focus was on making the business healthy, he said, not on turning GM into a laboratory for high-mileage but low-profit "green cars."
"There was no 'We want to see your hybrid line-up' and stuff like that," he said, "None of that."
The government-run bankruptcy has left the company leaner, stronger and more competitive than it's been in decades, he said. He called GM's emergence from bankruptcy after 40 days "like having died and being re-born." The carmaker was suddenly shorn of much of its once-crippling debt, unprofitable car bands and excess dealers network.
"This was the only way that we could correct 30 or 40 years worth of decline," he said, "Much of it was our own doing."
Lutz doesn't let GM's past leadership take all the blame, though. Government policies that favored Japanese imports, making their products impossibly cheap compared to domestic cars, also did a lot of damage, he said. American carmakers were forced to compete by cutting corners and cheapening their own products.
While Lutz expressed relief that the government didn't ask about GM's "hybrid line-up," the carmaker does, in fact, have hybrid vehicles and there are plans for more. A plug-in hybrid small SUV is in the works and a source within GM recently confirmed that a hybrid-only car, something to compete with the Toyota Prius and Honda Insight, is in the carmaker's longer-term plans as well.
The carmaker's environmental showpiece, the Chevrolet Volt, a plug-in car that's scheduled to go on sale next year, was created largely at Lutz's insistence.
But Lutz made it clear that this "green car" stuff can't be allowed to get out of hand. The simple fact is that, especially with gas prices well under $3 a gallon, there is even less demand than usual for hybrid cars, which sell in small numbers and are unprofitable even with relatively high gas prices.
"There's about 5% to 10% of the customer base in the U.S. that desperately wants a hybrid," he said.
The rest just want the best possible vehicle they can afford to pay for and fuel.
They also want great design, Lutz said, and that's something he also oversees in his newly created role. Design has become a strong point for GM in recent years, with critics and buyers praising handsome new cars like the Cadillac CTS, Buick Enclave and Chevrolet Malibu.
While GM quality is now competitive, or better than the competitive, in every respect, Lutz said, the products need the added pull of striking design to make sure customers take notice. Otherwise, they're not going to take a chance on a GM car.
During his time at GM, Lutz made a mission of elevating design to a primary, rather than secondary, consideration. There's still more work to be done, though, in reworking a culture that spreads responsibility too thinly, he said.
"It's unbelievably consensus driven," he said, "and there's lots of delegation and a lot of arguing, but very nice arguing."
"Less consensus means clearer, more consistent vision," he said, "and quicker decisions," when it comes to almost everything the public can see, hear and touch from GM. For now, that vision will come from Lutz.
|07-15-2009, 03:42 PM||#3|
Drives: 2010 Camaro 2SS/RS
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Tyler, Texas
"...The rest just want the best possible vehicle they can afford to pay for and fuel.
They also want great design..."
2SS/RS IBM A6, White Rallies
Ordered: 4/30/09 Delivered: 8/18/09
Heritage Grille, ZL1 Replica Wheels
Flowmaster ARH Cat-Back Exhaust, ADM CAI, ADM L99-LS3 Conversion, ADM LSA Supercharger Kit, Lingenfelter GT9 Cam, Stainless Power Headers, Detroit Speed Sway Bars, ZL1 Fuel Pump
581 rwhp/535 lb/ft tq
|07-15-2009, 03:44 PM||#4|
Drives: 1971 Monte Carlo/2010 Camaro 2LT
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Chesterfield, MI
2LT Victory Red w/ Black leather interior, automatic trans, polished 19" wheels, R6P (Early Order)
Factory style spoiler, Magnaflow axleback exhaust with resonated x-pipe, Injen CAI, RX catchcan, ABL dash mod,
Drake billet shifter with leather boot, GM splash guards, Toyo Proxes4 tires for summer, Blizzak tires with Moda rims for winter driving
Pre-ordered November 17, 2008
Delivered May 14, 2009
|07-15-2009, 03:49 PM||#5|
Drives: 1SS/RS Black
Join Date: May 2009
Location: New york
thing is Gm has been making good vehicles since the 2000's but have been making great vehicles the last 3 years or so. problem is they dont tell anybody about it.
2010 1SS/RS Black, CGM stripes, polished Rims, Tinted windows, Hurst shifter
|07-15-2009, 03:54 PM||#7|
Camaro fan since birth
Drives: 2013 ZL1
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Louisville, KY
Bob Lutz is great. I love a statement he made on Letterman when talking about the way the government is trying to regulate the auto industry. It's like trying to control obesity by telling clothes manufactures they can't make anything bigger then a size 4.
|07-15-2009, 03:54 PM||#8|
Drives: 2010 RJT VIN#7085 & 2014 CRT C7
Join Date: May 2009
Location: New York
Great news, Scott!!!...we Camaro fans can NEVER let you take a "retirement package"...you are THE main reason we are driving our CAMAROS today...your dedication and passion for all things Camaro...
You need to stay with GM and continue to guide them in the right direction...
It seems as if Bob Lutz shares your dreams and enthusiasm for the "new GM"...
May God Bless both of you and may GM continue to move forward in the right direction and "Put the Heartbeat Back in America"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!...
The Camaro has certainly put the THRILL and EXCITEMENT back in the proud and happy owners' lives!!!...
|07-15-2009, 03:58 PM||#10|
The Bowtie Is Back
Drives: 2010 Silver Camaro SS/RS -Blk Int.
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Westchester County, NY
They also want them delivered in a timely fashion... As I approach 8 weeks....
2SS RS SIM M6 with Polish Silver wheels
|07-15-2009, 04:09 PM||#11|
Drives: Z51 BABY!
Join Date: May 2009
Lutz is a genius, and GM was so smart bringing him over.
I love what they are doing with Holden and the Zeta platform. Not all american's are concerned about getting 40+ MPG. Some of us actually want performance.
|07-15-2009, 04:14 PM||#12|
Drives: 2010 2SS / RS MT, IBM
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Yorkville IL
And please put some good music to the ads! Zepplin's Rock 'N Roll for the CTS was pure genius. It captured excitement, reminded you that it had "been a long time", and got the blood pumping. For the Camaro, AC/DC's Back in Black comes to mind. I know its cliche, but who cares? This car has 300+HP in the V-6, 400-426HP in the V8, the target audience isn't the most subtle bunch, myself included.
Start with a black screen, start up that first rift. Halo's come on, all you see is the lights, maybe the Chevy badge. Have two cars thrashing about in a warehouse, one silver, one black. Throw in a smokey burnout, get the 3/4 shot of the car drifting in slow motion, etc. All the announcer needs to say is: 300 HP. 29 mpg. $22K MSRP. 400+ HP V-8 also available. Now available at your Chevrolet dealership.
|07-15-2009, 04:16 PM||#14|
Then you're gonna love me
Drives: 2010 Black Camaro Tumbler RS
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: NW Gotham, IL
Bravo Bob, now with all that weight off, show America what GM can do!
Own- "Does it come in Black?" Exterior/ Grey Interior 2LT/RS Automatic
The Batman would only drive a 2010 Camaro and buy from Camaro Scotty. 'Nuff said.
Anyone that knows of a place that is making the Concept Shifter for the new Camaro. (Auto specifically) Please let me know.
Order# NDTMVP Ordered 10/23/08.
2000 on 5/21/09... It begins.....
4B00 on 6/26/09... In transit to the Cave
5000 on 7/6/09 it waits for my arrival!
1000000 on 7/10/09 The Tumbler is in the Cave!
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