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Old 01-30-2008, 08:43 PM   #1
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Bob Lutz speaking about the future of General Motors

Bob Lutz wasn't offering any promises about future General Motors work or jobs in Flint on Tuesday.

But GM's vice chairman of global product development, delivered a very upbeat message about the company's future, and suggested this area will benefit as the company thrives.

"As our sales increase and as we become a sought after automobile company as opposed to one where the customer takes it because of the incentive ... that rising tide is going to lift all boats," Lutz told The Flint Journal in a 25-minute interview.

Lutz, 75, was here Tuesday, speaking to more than 200 people at a meeting of the Hundred Club of Flint.

Fresh off the North American International Auto Show and major awards for the 2008 Cadillac CTS and Chevrolet Malibu, Lutz delivered a pep talk about GM's short- and long-term prospects.

"I think we can confidently predict kind of a return of greatness for General Motors," he said. "Everybody, even detractors, even competitors, and even people who doubted we could do it come up to me now and say ... 'You guys just have the best lineup of anybody out there."
Among his other comments:
  • Expect the Chevrolet Camaro to be the corporation's next big product splash "toward the end of this year." "That's again designed with the best in class philosophy," he said. "We didn't want to make it as good as the (Ford) Mustang. We wanted to go way beyond where the Mustang is.
  • The Chevrolet Volt, GM's electric concept car, should be revolutionary -- even when stacked up against hybrid vehicles in development by Toyota and others -- because it has the potential to use very little or no gasoline. "If your commute is less than 40 miles, you should never burn a drop of fuel," he said. "We're probably going to have to put a label on it saying, turn on the internal combustion engine once a month to make sure the gas doesn't get stale ...
    "What we're shooting for with the Volt is a fundamentally different proposition. It's the electrification of the automobile."
  • The long-term future of trucks and full-size utility vehicles is "cloudy" given new fuel economy standards that require automakers to boost fuel economy to an average 35 miles per gallon by 2020. Those vehicles can't achieve that standard or get close enough to it to allow companies to continue to sell them in large numbers "unless we discover something radical," Lutz said.
    "At $3 a gallon (for gas), people are still going to want full-sized trucks and sport utilities, and we're going to have to tell people, 'Sorry, we don't stock those anymore because our beloved federal government has taken them away from us."
  • Toyota's surge past GM in global vehicle production in 2007 and its neck-and-neck competition in vehicle sales are not the most important signs of corporate health. "We're sort of very relaxed about it. Did we enjoy being number one? Sure, but the reality is ... our focus is on doing great cars and trucks, pleasing our customers and making money for our shareholders.
    "If we can do that better being number two than being number one, we're willing to be number two -- for a while."
  • The vehicle he's most satisfied with since returning to GM in as vice chairman of product development in 2001 is the Malibu, the 2008 North American Car of the Year. "The thing I'm most proud of that the team has done is the Chevy Malibu because it's fairly easy to do a great car for $40,000, $50,000 or a $100,000. It's a lot tougher to do a great car for around $20,000."
  • GM has a large job ahead in convincing drivers, particularly on the East and West coasts, to consider its brands. "I think it's changing very quickly but it will be another two years before we really catch the upward part of the wave," he said. "It's starting now though. I'm very encouraged with where we are compared to where we were two years ago."
  • Rather than cutting the number of brands, GM should remember to give each a clear identity with buyers.
"We arguably had too many. We dropped one called Oldsmobile ... If you are one of the world largest producers you have to have multiple brands because you cannot serve the entire market with one brand...
"What we've got to do is make these brands relevant again."
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Old 01-30-2008, 10:04 PM   #2

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I love the blurb about the Camaro. Good stuff all around right there.

Off topic, but concerning gas prices - I just filled up in Anaheim for 2.83 a gallon today. I was very happy.
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Old 01-31-2008, 12:35 AM   #3
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Who cares about the Blue Oval crowd and their little Ponys? We're getting our Camaro back-and it'll be Supercharged!-MDAII
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Old 01-31-2008, 08:47 AM   #4
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"At $3 a gallon (for gas), people are still going to want full-sized trucks and sport utilities, and we're going to have to tell people, 'Sorry, we don't stock those anymore because our beloved federal government has taken them away from us."

That's the first time I've seen GM say this.
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