By on December 27, 2006

0505007_72222.jpgWriting in his Fastlane Blog, GM Car Czar Bob Lutz recently claimed that proposals to raise Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards by four percent per year would “effectively hand the truck and SUV market over to the imports, particularly the Japanese, who have earned years of accumulated credits from their fleets of formerly very small cars." Wrong. First, CAFE credits were never transferable between cars and light trucks. Second, as of ’07, light truck CAFE standards are gone; replaced by target mileage figures based on a vehicle’s footprint. Third, even when there WERE such things as CAFE credits for light trucks, Toyota, Honda and Nissan never used them. Fourth, Bob Lutz is an idiot.

Some time ago, we pointed out that an auto industry executive who can’t name Volkswagen’s brands wasn’t an ideal choice for Vice Chairman of Global Product Development. We’ve also chronicled the numerous occasions when Maximum Bob’s betrayed his firmly held belief that firmly held beliefs trump reality, even when they don’t. And now he’s taking on both environmentalists and the federal government without having a clue what he’s talking about.

It’s hard to believe that this uninformed loose cannon was hired to be GM’s “car guy”: the man charged with lifting GM’s products from their fug of mediocrity into a brave new world of stunning design, peerless powertrains and world class interiors. Feel free to debate Lutz’ handiwork thus far, but I reckon the majority of The General’s new products continue down the path marked not-quite, me-too, also-ran, we’re getting there, you just wait and WTF. The fact that GM’s Car Czar is still around to say stupid things on his blog (and in the media) says bad things about CEO Rick Wagoner’s management skills.

If you’re wondering why Wagoner lets Lutz get away with spouting politically incorrect nonsense, it’s because what Lutz says, others think. Face it: GM’s Board of Bystanders doesn’t pay an employee over $6m per year and give him his very own blog if his opinions fly in the face of his equally well-compensated peers. So when Bob gripes that more stringent CAFE standards would put domestic manufacturers “at odds with the desires of most of our customers, namely larger vehicles,” you can bet that the “bigger is better” mantra is alive and well at RenCen.

Yes, despite resurgent environmentalism and the effects of the Iraq war on the American motorist’s psyche (i.e. increasing their concern about fuel consumption), Maximum Bob’s mob continues to believe that U.S. consumers want the biggest damn vehicle they can afford, period. In Bob’s world, it’s all about size: “I’m the guy on record who compared forcing automakers to sell smaller cars to improve fuel economy with fighting the nation’s obesity problem by forcing clothing manufacturers to sell garments in only small sizes.”

Bob believes that CAFE regulations are a government plot to thwart the will of the American people and shoehorn them into uncomfortable cars. Bob’s subsequent proposition– higher gas prices are a fairer and more compelling way to get Americans to drive “very small cars”– is not without merit. Of course, MB quickly assures his readers that he’s not advocating higher gas prices. No, bio-fuels are the “real way to save fuel”– until GM can realize the “electrification” of its vehicles (which, presumably, the government won’t encourage force anyone to buy).

According to Maximum Bob, as long as gas costs around $2 a gallon, “people will exercise their freedom to buy the vehicle they want, V8 engine and all.” In other words, Americans are selfish bastards who will buy gas-guzzling land yachts– unless they can’t afford to. Even if you agree with this sentiment and reject my depiction of MB as a clueless blowhard whose ideas date back to the days when Detroit dismissed small (yes small) imported cars as “Jap crap,” you have to admit that he’s making all the wrong noises. 

The question is, who’s listening? The comments immediately following Bob’s post indicate he’s preaching to the choir. Our own ThriftyTechie spoke for many: “Couldn’t have said it better myself.” But after Bob’s message hit the mainstream media, the comments grow more… impatient. “Quit whining,” Chris R chides. “GM should be faster to market with products that people want to buy.” As GM’s PR bouncers pre-approve all published comments, one wonders how many more vitriolic reactions were swept under the e-rug. Plenty, I’d guess.

But again, the more important audience for Bob’s “Season’s rantings” lies within GM. If GM’s Car Czar can slam CAFE standards with irrational, bellicose, self-righteous and petulant impunity, in public, what effect does his anti-efficiency argument have on the thousands of designers, engineers, pencil pushers and bean counters further down the GM food chain? With Maximum Bob Lutz calling the shots for GM's product portfolio, The General doesn't have a hope in Hell of pulling itself out of its current tailspin. Blog that Bob.

[Click here  for "Season's Rantings" on GM's Fastlane blog.] 

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129 Comments on “General Motors Death Watch 105: Bob Lutz Screws the Pooch...”


  • avatar
    Terry

    I dont remember the exact circumstances, but in the early ’70s, there was a convention of auto manufacturers concerning the upcoming emission laws. The domestics stomped their feet, booed, said there is no way they could meet these new standards.
    A representative from HONDA stood up, and said..”Yes, WE CAN”, and the Civic CVCC appeared shortly thereafter.
    The more things change..well, you all know the rest.

  • avatar
    paradigm_shift

    It is very hard to have any sort of compassion for GM and their troubles when they are being run by a fool who is too old to be relevant…

  • avatar
    windswords

    “Fourth, Bob Lutz is an idiot.”

    Geez, RF tell us how you really feel!

    Seriously, I think it’s beneath you to resort to name calling. You can certainly say his position is idiotic.

    I just don’t want this to become like Autoblog, where it seems like the inmates run the asylum. So far you and your crew have done a commendable job.

  • avatar

    winswords: I thought long and hard about whether or not to call Mr. Lutz an idiot. I played with "ignoramus," "delusional" and many other adjectives (including, I admit, "moron"). But an idiot is as an idiot does. A highly paid corporate executive working for a public company who feels free to lambaste federal regulations without bothering to check his basic facts is certainly acting in an idiotic manner. Sorry, but the truth hurts. (PS TTAC rules for posting do not prohibit commentators from flaming third parties.) 

  • avatar
    cykickspy

    definition of idiot:

    Psychology. a person of the lowest order in a former classification of mental retardation, having a mental age of less than three years old and an intelligence quotient under 25.

    Doesn’t calling someone this without proof leaves you open to a lawsuit?

    wonder if Bob will sue TTAC?

  • avatar

    Bring it on.

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    We should probably make up our minds. Do we want GM run by an MBA who took $9B out of annual costs to get the company to breakeven and has plans in place to take out an additional $9B? Or do we want GM run by a car guy who has rationalized product development to finally start producing world class product, but who occasionally spouts off?

    Personally, I don’t care what Lutz says because it is irrelevant. What matters is whether the Enclave is better than the MDX. Whether the new CTS is better than the G35, and whether next year’s Malibu is better than a Camry.

  • avatar

    Last time I looked, GM was run by the MBA.

  • avatar
    Claude Dickson

    Given the management of the 2.5, I fully expect Ford AND GM to declare bankruptcy and DCX to be sold to the highest bidder. The “me too” Edge will not save Ford, the 300C is looking more like a fluke than a sign that DCX finally “got it”, and GM is still banking on big SUVs as their product savior, completely ignoring the overall steady rise in gas prices and consumer movement away from big SUVs.

    These companies offer textbook examples of poor management.

  • avatar
    Glenn A.

    The current General Messup crew (executives, board of bystanders all) should be pensioned off, if GM has any chance in you-know-where of surviving.

    Let’s see…. if I were king for a day….

    I’d look at every vehicle line made, with fresh cars right off the line, parked next to the best competitor (ok, let’s be honest, most of the other cars would probably be Honda or Toyota brands).

    I’d then take the super-secret figures for warrantee work on every car, paste it to the hood along with the estimated industry average and estimated warantee work provided for the best competitor (parked next to it). I’d also make sure to note which factories built which GM vehicles and look at the overall quality of work coming from them.

    Then I’d bring in the crew of new executives and we’d look at every vehicle, drive every vehicle, look at the graphs and

    DISCONTINUE probably 70% of the GM vehicle line-up, and close all of the less than stellar factories IMMEDIATELY.

    I’d rationalize the vehicle line-ups, probably disposing of Pontiac, GMC and Saturn (which has continuously lost money), possibly also Buick (in the US, but not China).

    I’d sell Saab off for $1 to anyone dumb enough to take it.

    Then when the UAW screamed due to 60% of the plants being closed, I’d have enough cajones to say “OK, here’s the deal. You can have the jobs left over, or we’ll see if the CAW and GMDaewoo want them. Your call. Give me an answer in 5 minutes, or we close down all the US plants and move the production lines elsewhere, and if that happens, we’re simply going to tell the US public the truth about who said what in this meeting – and let them decide who to punish. And by the way, the jobs bank is done as of 10 minutes ago.”

  • avatar
    Glenn A.

    And by the way, I also have more or less given up commenting at autoblog as I got tired of being flamed for having an opinion. In fact, I scarcely ever even go back for a look-see. I enjoy TTAC much more, and don’t get flamed for my opinions here.

    A healthy debate is fine, even a spirited one. I enjoy reading other people’s opinions, even if I happen to disagree to the core.

    But I got tired of being trashed elsewhere, so enjoy the civility here. Kudo’s, Robert.

  • avatar
    Axel

    It’s not that difficult to develop durable cars with comfortable interiors that get good mileage. I’m a rangy 6’3″ and drive a 1999 Saturn SL. The car cost $11k, is not cramped (not exactly spacious but not cramped), and I can squeeze 42 mpg hwy / 34 mpg city out of it. It now has 8 years and over 150k miles on it and still runs beautifully.

    Where the heck is this car in GM’s lineup today? Cobalt/Ion costs more and doesn’t get nearly the mileage (and Ion has about the stupidest dash I’ve ever seen).

    GM wasted all their R&D making nicer SUVs and let their cars languish. The SL was highly competitive against the Corolla (and the Civic when you figure in price). In recent years, the Corolla, Civic, and even the Korean compacts have improved by leaps and bounds, and GM has no hope whatsoever of competing. They are starting to improve their midsize lineup, but when you see billboards touting the Saturn Aura’s “amazing” 28 mpg, you just scratch your head in wonder.

    So now GM is faced with Asian competition that makes 42 mpg, roomy small cars, and 35 mpg roomier midsizes, and all they can do is jump up and down about how unfair CAFE is when they should have seen this coming eons ago. Very, very sad.

  • avatar
    booboojeebies

    A lot of folks talk about improving the GM line up, replacing the clunkers, and axing this brand and that, but isn't a real issue the lack of knowing what their customers want? How can you weild the axe when you don't understand how you're going to sell the ones you do retain? Other brands may have the luxury of a certain niche, such as Porsche for performance or Subaru for affordable AWD and still others may have grown into them, like Toyota for reliable decent transportation. I don't think GM has this outside of perhaps their truck market. They don't build a single car across their brands that speaks to what I'm looking for, and for that matter all of my friends in my age group as well. Caddy is probably the closest, but not close enough. Just a thought. Lutz's paycheck has to really irk the UAW.

  • avatar
    Luther

    Lutz is not an idiot, he is just perceived to be an idiot because he possesses an MBA. Apparently all ya all dont have a MBA Decoder Ring or it doesnt have the latest firmware update with the Bob Lutz v3.2.7 specific code installed. (This ring is sometimes refered to as a Perception-to-Reality Converter.)

    Allow Me:

    “If GM doesnt sell high-margin Trucks/SUVs, GM will go out of business. GM cannot remain (become?) solvent in the low-margin car market.”

    (The Lutz specific code also appends “2008 Toyota Tundra… Oh Shit” at the end of every translation.)

  • avatar

    File under: defending myself.

    I don’t agree with everything Mr. Lutz said and if his claims regarding Toyota’s CAFE credits are inaccurate, then it is deeply troubling that he is a high ranking auto exec.

    I did agree with 2 of Mr. Lutz’ main points:
    1. CAFE standards don’t work to reduce fuel consumption.
    2. Raising fuel prices (i.e. gas tax) would simultaneously reduce fuel consumption and affect auto purchasing habits by encouraging sales of smaller/more efficient autos.

  • avatar

    cykickspy

    Truth is an absolute defense for libel or defamation lawsuits.

    Kind of appropriate given this sites name. You don’t have to prove that Lutz is your dictionary definition of an “idiot”

    Given Robert’s points, I think Lutz by most people would be judged an idiot for making those comments.

  • avatar

    GM largely ignored the car market for the past 15+ years, while investing damn near everything into trucks and SUVs. They will now reap what they’ve sown.

    Well Done Mr. Farago.

    The most on-target statement of all the above is: …numerous occasions when Maximum Bob’s betrayed his firmly held belief that firmly held belief trumps reality, even when it doesn’t.

    That explains so much that is wrong with GM (not to mention Ford, and even certain branches of US Government)… the unwillingness to comprehend reality that is staring them in the face – or kicking them in the ass. Sort of like “staying the course” despite the fact that there never was much thought or planning put into “the course” to begin with. Gasoline prices have been up, and causing pain in the average American family’s wallet for over five years now! Certainly that was enough lead time for GM to come up with a more compelling offering than Yet Another Yukon? Were are the hyper-efficient Hybrids or Diesels?

    Yes, there will always be a customer looking for a big V-8, but that is not everyone Bob.

    History has proven that America does not produce the most elegant or stylishly engineered products… BUT where we have always excelled is in winning through logistical superiority. The ability to produce something good enough, on a scale that makes it affordable. The Big 2.5 have squandered that legacy and have illustrated a complete and total idiocy (Farago was correct in his use of the word) by giving the majority of the market to the imports. Face it, Toyota and Honda have become what GM and Ford once were: the vendor of choice to the average American who wants to buy a quality vehicle.

    GM & Ford have become merely the suppliers of Trucks and Rental Car Fleets. Hurry up and die already.

    –chuck

  • avatar
    mikey

    I am not bothered by Bob lutz, or his pay check for that matter.
    If bob can design cars that people buy.then i keep my pay check.
    So far Bob has done allright in the design dept.A lot of his designs might not be everybodys cup of tea.
    Let give Bob a little credit since he has come aboard GM vehicles have improved dramaticly in both design and reliability

  • avatar
    CliffG

    Personally I have no use for the CAFE standards, but I would expect the top car guy at GM to be aware of how that all works (or doesn’t). The Cobalt is a perfect example of how undermanaging a product produces a mediocre product. The new SS has really nice Ricaro seats. It also has the corporate mags and sits about 4 inches too high on its’ wheels. It suffers from the massive torque steer that every GM front wheel drive product has suffered from for the last 20+ years. Every 20 something car guy snorts when he walks by it.

    Maybe instead of worrying about what the new CAFE standards will do to his precious truck line, he ought to go back and look at what was developed on his watch. Otherwise, just cancel the whole damn car line and only build his beautiful trucks. And maybe his retro Camaro line. Which will probably have the quality interior and handling of the last one. Er.

    Funnily enough a used 2 year old GTO is a hell of a buy on Ebay. The Audi like depreciation has done wonders for it.

  • avatar
    powerglide

    Robert, hang in there. Lutz IS off.

    (though do give Maureen Coyne, or whoever it was a break.)

    Recall that Lutz was originally asked NOT to come in from his retirement, but rather to recommend a car-guy, a Bob Lutz-equivalent, to be for GM what Lutz had (perceived to have) been at post-Lido Chrysler, a gutsy champion of out-there cars like the Viper, an opponent of bureaucratic mediocrity.

    So Bob Lutz sez I’ll do it myself, I’ll be your Bob Lutz.

    But why was this necessary at all ?

    THE ONE BIG WRONG THING about GM, and all the domestics, is that someone who knows, likes cars, is seen as this exotic outsider.

    If those running GM, et al, don’t know the difference between MagnaSteer and Magna Steyr, don’t know about cars, don’t even like cars, fine.

    But why wouldn’t they have long ago hired, not one, but about FOUR OR FIVE HUNDRED PEOPLE WHO DO ?

    What kind of dinner would you get at a restaurant where the owner and cooks didn’t especially care for food ?

  • avatar
    PandaBear

    If everyone else can design a car that meet the CAFE and sell well (Toyota, Honda, VW, Nissan, etc) and only the 2.5 can’t, well, is it fair or is it just lack of investment/skill/management?

    If a student never study during the school year and got an F, and complain about the F, what do you call that?

    GM and Ford are not stupid or idiots, they just place the wrong bet and are taking the consequence (serve them right). It is just business, stop bitching and start designing cars that are worth buying.

  • avatar
    Zarba

    Let’s see, 4% increase in fuel conomy for an SUV rated at 18 MPG combined would be….18.72 mpg. Even after 5 years, that would be 21.9 mpg. Let’s call it 22 mpg.

    It’s not like we’re talking 30 mpg here, folks. Advances in electronic controls and fuel delivery could handle this without too much trouble.

    The real culprit here is that real world horsepower figures have gone up dramatically in the past 10 years. We’ve seen the manufacturers plow their money into the horsepower wars and not efficiency.

    The average truck in 1995 made 210 bhp from 5.7 liters. Now it has a 5.3 liter making 295 bhp, an increase of 40%. Gas mileage was 13/18 back then, and 16/20 now, an increase of 23% in city driving, maybe 12-13% in combined mpg.

    By paring back weight, moving to a 6 or 7 speed auto, improved aerodynamics, and MAYBE dropping 20-25 bhp, they could probably meet the new rules. That’s assuming no no new tech breakthroughs or widening the use of hybrid powertrains.

    What MB is really saying is that GM is unwilling to put money into improved efficiency becasue it would lower their profit margins on trucks.

    Maybe Maximum Bob and the countless thousands of GM bureaucrats could spend their time meeting the new standards instead of wasting time and effort trying to defeat them. That’s exactly what Honda and Toyota did, and now they’re killing Detroit.

    GM may also find that their protectionist dogma doesn’t play well with the millions of consumers who have bought and become loyal to their American-built Camrys, Accords, etc.

    It’s a different world now, Bob. Come join us. To quote my favorite commie rapper, “Welcome to The Terrordome”.

  • avatar
    Luther

    If a student never study during the school year and got an F, and complain about the F, what do you call that?

    A Sorority Girl.

    2.5 has a *HUGE* liability called Retiree Benefits. The collapse of GM will be just like the collapse of the Soviet Union where the non-producers (Brats) overwhelmed the producers (Fools). Raising CAFE is likened to Ronald Reagans military buildup and will hasten GM collapse.

  • avatar
    seldomawake

    This post is among the most amusing things I have read on the topic. Great job, RF, and keep 'em coming!

  • avatar

    Luther said:
    The collapse of GM will be just like the collapse of the Soviet Union where the non-producers overwhelmed the producers.

    So true and well said. Does that make Lutz an Andropov, or a Gorbachev? That destiny is his to choose I guess.

    –chuck

  • avatar
    rudiger

    This reminds me of when Iacocca was planning his retirement from Chrysler, the program to find his successor was codenamed ‘ABL’ – Anybody But Lutz. In an ironic case of deja vu, just like Henry Ford II hated Iacocca, so, too, did Iacocca hate Lutz.

    So Lutz went from Chrysler to GM and is working his magic there. Unfortunately, he doesn’t seem to be nearly as successful as Iacocca when he moved from Ford to Chrysler. Maybe the folks at Chrysler got it right (at least about Lutz), after all.

  • avatar
    keepaustinweird

    Mikey – with all due respect, “improvement” is not a competitive metric. When people go to buy cars, they don’t compare the latest model with its prior iteration. They compare it with competing models with other manufacturers.

    And this is the problem with GM, Ford and DCX. Yes, this year’s model may well be better than last year’s, but how does is stack up against the latest from Toyota, Honda, etc? All you need to do is look at the state of play and current trends to see how consumers are voting with their dollars.

  • avatar

    1. Lutz was able to encourage the GM teams to develop the Solstice and this resulted in a car that sells well. Give him SOME credit for that.

    2. I have been wondering if GM is ready to eat its hat for the the “30 models over 30 MPG” campaign after the new EPA changes hit. Has anyone seen what their hwy EPA mpg will be after the change? Considering how the numbers for that last campaign came in just over 30 by the skin of their brightly-bleached teeth, I don’t see how GM can promote fuel efficiency.

    3. The big 2.5 have been cut slack BIG TIME for their E85 capability (FlexFuelVehicles). I don’t competely understand it, but it appears as if they are given credit for the mileage as if the FFVs were always burning E85. In other words, CAFE is not based on “miles per gallon of fuel,” but on “miles per gallon of gasoline or whatever our formulas say for non-gasoline, even if you are only theoretically not burning gasoline.” This CAFE method is used on all FFVs, EVEN if the vehicle is sold in a location that currently does not have E85 available and has no plans to ever have it available. [Please correct my understanding if it is not correct–CAFE is not straightforward!]

    From
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E85
    The United States government corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) regulations are relaxed for FFV. For example, an FFV GMC Yukon is rated 33 mpg for CAFE purposes, when its EPA ratings are 15 mpg city, 20 mpg highway.]

    Have we heard the manufacturers that do not offer FFVs complaining about the government handing free CAFE credits to the big 2.5? I haven’t.

  • avatar
    mikey

    KEEPAUSTINWEIRD
    Good point,but you gota start somewhere.The latest models stack up quite well with Honda and Toyota.Car for car the comparison its not much of a spread.
    RUDIGER
    Wich particular model/models that Bob Lutz was responsible for are not sucessfull.

  • avatar
    steve442

    “Wrong. First, CAFE credits were never transferable between cars and light trucks. Second, as of ’07, light truck CAFE standards are gone; replaced by target mileage figures based on a vehicle’s footprint. Third, even when there WERE such things as CAFE credits for light trucks, Toyota, Honda and Nissan never used them. Fourth, Bob Lutz is an idiot.”

    What are CAFE credits?
    Manufacturers can earn CAFE “credits” to offset deficiencies in their CAFE performances. Specifically, when the average fuel economy of either the passenger car or light truck fleet for a particular model year exceeds the established standard, the manufacturer earns credits. The amount of credit a manufacturer earns is determined by multiplying the tenths of a mile per gallon that the manufacturer exceeded the CAFE standard in that model year by the amount of vehicles they manufactured in that model year. These credits can be applied to any three consecutive model years immediately prior to or subsequent to the model year in which the credits are earned. The credits earned and applied to the model years prior to the model year for which the credits are earned are termed “carry back” credits, while those applied to model years subsequent to the model year in which the credits are earned are known as “carry forward” credits. Failure to exercise carry forward credits within the three years immediately following the year in which they are earned will result in the forfeiture of those credits. Credits cannot be passed between manufacturers or between fleets, e.g., from domestic passenger cars to light trucks.

    Nissan North America, Inc. (Nissan) filed a petition requesting exemption from the two-fleet rule for the 2006-2010 model years. The two-fleet rule, which is contained in the corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) statute, requires that a manufacturer divide its passenger automobiles into two fleets, a domestically-manufactured fleet and a non-domestically manufactured fleet, and ensure that each fleet separately meets the CAFE standards for passenger automobiles.

    Nissan filed the petition because a change under the statute in the treatment of value added to a vehicle in Mexico will cause one of that company’s passenger automobiles, which is manufactured in Mexico, to be reclassified from non-domestic to domestic. The loss of these automobiles, which are relatively fuel-efficient, will cause its non-domestic fleet to fail to comply with the CAFE standards for passenger automobiles.

    http://www.nhtsa.gov/cars/rules/CAFE/Rulemaking/NissanPetition2004.htm

    ASIAN IMPORTED PASSENGER CAR FLEET AVERAGE CHARACTERISTICS

    In 1977 the average was 29.7 cafe mpg.CURB WEIGHT, LB 2248. In 2003 it 29.7 and 2004 it was 30.5 cafe mpg.CURB WEIGHT, LB 3025

    IMPORTED PASSENGER CAR FLEET AVERAGE CHARACTERISTICS
    In 1977 the average was 28.2 cafe mpg. In 2004 it was 28.8 cafe mpg.

    DOMESTIC PASSENGER CAR FLEET AVERAGE CHARACTERISTICS
    In 1977 the average was 17.6 CAFE, MPG. CURB WEIGHT, LB 3913. In 2004 it was 29.3 CAFE, MPG. CURB WEIGHT, LB 3277

    And you are calling Lutz a Idiot?? Seems to me the domestics have done pretty well. Go to this site and do some unbiased reading.
    http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/portal/site/nhtsa/menuitem.d0b5a45b55bfbe582f57529cdba046a0/

    http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/portal/site/nhtsa/template.MAXIMIZE/menuitem.d0b5a45b55bfbe582f57529cdba046a0/?javax.portlet.tpst=4670b93a0b088a006bc1d6b760008a0c_ws_MX&javax.portlet.prp_4670b93a0b088a006bc1d6b760008a0c_viewID=detail_view&javax.portlet.begCacheTok=token&javax.portlet.endCacheTok=token&itemID=8a7bc044ae99e010VgnVCM1000002c567798RCRD&overrideViewName=Article

  • avatar

    neilberg: As we've written here before, the FFV calculations are a joke– that allowed GM to make their dubious mileage claims. In reality, a vehicle running on E85 gets some 15% worse mileage than a gas-powered equivalent.  Steve442: Thanks for the detail, but nothing you've written contradicts my analysis.

  • avatar

    Is Bob Lutz an idiot? Clearly the man is up and running, and knows more than a thing or two about cars. But that doesn’t mean he is unable to be a numbskull.

    Lutz has been criminally oblivious of market directions, with his head firmly pointed towards the past, as he’s applied increasingly irrelevant solutions to customers’ needs.

    His solutions, the cars he has staked the company on, have been idiotic choices. Why idiotic? Because other car companies, looking at the same data Lutz had available, reached other and far more relevant conclusions – leading them to create cars that found great favor with the market.

    What does one call a person who makes the wrong conclusions, repeatedly, in spite of having access to all relevant facts?

    I think Robert Farago can rest easy should Lutz ever want to sue him.

  • avatar

    In 2003, BMW, Ford, and VW asked for and got approval for carryback plans to cover their truck fleets and Nissan submitted a carryforward plan for its imported passenger car fleet. In ’04, Nissan and Lotus submited carryforward plans for their cars and BMW for their trucks. Nissan’s petition for exemption from the two-fleet rule applies to their cars.  

  • avatar
    Jim H

    This reminds me a bit of fast food joints who refused to offer something healthy on their menu. Yes, the junk tastes amazing, but it catches up with us all and we want an alternative from time to time. Imagine if Col. Sanders still offered only old fashioned fried chicken at Kentucky Fried Chicken…not a single alternative. He’d of gone under. Instead, he offered other oil-soaked alternatives, extra crispy and spicey. But they are all still fried. As America got a bit more health conscious, they changed the name to KFC but it was the same product and America saw right through it. So, healthy alternatives began to creep in…but that’s a good thing. KFC is still around!

    To me, GM is stuck in thinking they know what consumers want…we want fried, greasy chicken! Well of course we crave it…but we now know a bit better. Yes, consumers want performance, power, and a new car every 3-5 years. But most of us know better…we demand more. If you’d of asked me 10 years ago, I’d of never considered owning a car longer than 5 years…I’d rather get a new one. However, once I realized I could own a car for 7 years and it still ran great (while padding my savings account to boot!) my expectations changed. Once I got 30 miles to a gallon in a V6, my expectations changed. Once I owned a car where my only major maintenance was my timing belt at 100,000 miles…my expectation for car repairs changed.

    Consumers aren’t static…we are dynamic.

  • avatar
    Luther

    a vehicle running on E85 gets some 15% worse mileage than a gas-powered equivalent.

    Because E85 has less energy density and if you total up the [unsubsidized] costs to produde E85, it becomes a bigger joke.

    Imagine if all vehicals were E85 and America had a drought. “We” (The maggots in DC that is) would have to choose between food and transporting no-food to market.

  • avatar

    Csaba Csere, surprisingly, had a terrific column on the choices manufacturers made when balancing weight, power, and economy.

    CAFE hasn’t improved fuel economy? Yes and no. Clearly, the standards have forced automakers to make more efficient cars and trucks. The car v. light truck distinction, however, has distorted the market, making it more desirable to both sell and buy light trucks, at the expense of overall fuel economy.

    The new footprint requirements will go a long way to curing the market distortion.

    Lutz only hints at the real problem: How do you best get car/truck buyers to assume the true costs of a country full of gas-guzzling trucks that everyone wants but few need? With (relatively) cheap gas, consumers don’t internalize the true costs of their vehicle choice. Fuel economy standards is one, albeit indirect, option to force consumers to face the consequence of their choices. Higher (much higher) gas taxes is another. Fees and taxes on certain vehicles is another.

    But to suggest that there’s a perfect market and that the consumer is just exercising benign choice in his or her decision to buy a 6,000 lbs. Suburban to haul the tots to soccer and ballet is simply idiotic.

  • avatar
    Jim H

    I think my driveway would crack if I pulled up in a 6000 lb vehicle. :(

  • avatar
    willjames2000

    Robert,

    What does FFV have to do with a supposed “dubious mileage claim” by GM?

    GM has many cars that the EPA rates at 30 MPG and over, and just because some of them are E85 flex-fuel capable and the EPA uses a higher calculation for them in the fleet average, does not mean they put that higher number on the sticker and in their ads. 30 MPG is 30 MPG.

    And anyhow, my inlaws regularly average 28 to 30 mpg highway with thier 06 Impala so the EPA ratings do not seem as far from reality as some would have you believe.

    Luther:

    Do you have any idea how much farmland in the US is NOT being farmed because the farmer can’t get enough for the crops? And corn is just one source of ethanol in addition to grasses and wood chips which show much promise at reducung the energy input.

    Technology, demand, and economy of scale will likely bring the energy cost of ethanol down in future anyhow. And what kind of drought would compare to our current state of perpetual and growing dependance on unstable countrys for non-renewable petroleum?

  • avatar
    Luther

    Does that make Lutz an Andropov, or a Gorbachev?

    I dont think Lutz is an Andropov. GM will Andropov a cliff all by itself…. ArhArh.

    Gorbachev actually put the final nail in Communisms coffin by trying to outlaw Vodka. Trying to outlaw alcohol in a Socialist country is like trying to take T-Bones away from rabid dogs. How else can the slaves escape the misery of their perceived reality.

  • avatar
    willjames2000

    Luther: " Gorbachev actually put the final nail in Communisms coffin by trying to outlaw Vodka. Trying to outlaw Vodka in a Socialist country is like trying to take T-Bones away from rabid dogs. " Trying to (effectively) outlaw trucks, suvs, and whatever other kind of vehicle people want to buy in the US would also be like trying to take away T-bones from rabid dogs. Not a wise choice.

  • avatar
    tincanman99

    Time for GM to go. They have been living off the trough of the taxpayer for years and years. The whining that occurred in the 70s is now repeating itself. The difference this time is they can say they did not know it was coming. Come on, its been 30 years since the first gas crisis and now they are waking up.

    Where have they have been for the last 30 years? Asleep like that guy Rummple something ;) ????

    I dont feel one bit of pity for them. As always the worker bees will suffer while the execs parachute out richer than they were before. Its business as usual in corporate America. Nothing new here.

    I dont think that GM even knows its a car company. Yes its a company but what exactly do they build and for whom?

  • avatar
    chainyanker

    “Trying to (effectively) outlaw trucks, suvs, and whatever other kind of vehicle people want to buy in the US would also be like trying to take away T-bones from rabid dogs. Not a wise choice.”

    Darn right. You can’t just phase out a popular product while there’s still demand for it. People want what they want.

    Not a day goes by that I don’t overhear at least a dozen people exclaim, “Lord, how I wish I owned an 8000lb., 500hp, 9 passenger, asbestos lined, r-12 refrigerated, leaded-gas burning vehicle to pull my trailer of 3-wheel ATVs and drive to my lawn dart competitions!”

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    Luther,
    If all vehicles were E85, and we had a drought, I expect car owners would use more gasoline. Having choices is a good thing.

    Stein X,
    You seem to be saying that perceptive carmakers found market niches that GM missed, because GM instead focused on SUVs that they sell 500K units a year of and pickups of which they sell a million a year.

    Please explain how they would have made up for it by instead selling 50K Fits or 10K R350s or 40K X-3s.

    Otherwise, I’ll be left thinking Lutz is an idiot like a fox.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    Neilberg offered, “Lutz was able to encourage the GM teams to develop the Solstice and this resulted in a car that sells well. Give him SOME credit for that.”

    Combined sales of the Sky/Solstice are 2300 units this past month. I’d bet a quarter I could go the nearest Saturn dealer and get a Sky off the lot at less than MSRP today.

    Was Lutz responsible for the SSR? It looks like that’s on closeout. They sold 111 of those in November, down from an equally unimpressive 440 or so last year.

    How about the HHR? Down 20% from last November.

    Those who rally to the GM banner often point out the likely upcoming Camaro. How many of those will GM sell?

    I give Lutz credit for steamrollering over other, more sensible voices to bring out a couple of retro-styled vehicles of limited utility (or none, as is the case with the SSR) which flashed and died and one (or is it two?) two-seat roadster which will sell in insignificant quantities (although, give Lutz credit, the more powerful versions might eat into Corvette sales).

    I’d be more impressed with Lutz if he could bring out a car that would sell 40K copies a month with good margins and increasing sales every year. That’s what GM needs.

    By the way, we had a ’60’s Camaro when I was a kid. It was an attractive, nicely proportioned car. The Camaro Concept is ugly. The ass is too big and the nose is too dark and narrow.

    By the way, who buys HHRs and what do they do with them once purchased? Although their sales have dropped, their sales are not insignificant, yet I’m far more likely to see a Yaris or FJ Cruiser on the road – or maybe even an Escape hybrid – than an HHR. This past month, I believe I’ve only seen one and I live right down the road from a Chevy dealer.

  • avatar
    Jim H

    I thought the HHRs looked interesting. A bit too dodgy with the metal skin stretched over a skeletal frame…but interesting none-the-less. Edmunds gives it a high consumer rating…but they themselves didn’t rate it (I never know what to think by that).

    I kinda figured they are good people haulers for family…but the dogs don’t mind my cars small back seat! (I don’t have any children)

  • avatar
    rudiger

    chainyanker: “Not a day goes by that I don’t overhear at least a dozen people exclaim, “Lord, how I wish I owned an 8000lb., 500hp, 9 passenger, asbestos lined, r-12 refrigerated, leaded-gas burning vehicle to pull my trailer of 3-wheel ATVs and drive to my lawn dart competitions!”

    All GM has to do is whip-up a clever, expensive marketing campaign with some snappy commercials and slogans and, ironically, this is exactly what happens. Trouble is, too many Americans are finally wising up to this con-game

    Maybe if they’d spend a bit more on R&D than advertising, they (and the other domestics) wouldn’t be in a perpetual state of crisis.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    i just read the blog in question

    GM is doomed.

  • avatar

    @SherbornSean

    Lutz’ mistake was in closing off any efforts at developing alternatives to the oversized cars he favored. In fact, he initiated and managed a campaign against EVs, hybrid drive trains and smaller platforms.
    He looked into the future and saw a strong need for land yachts – now his fleet is on dry land, alright.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    paradigm_shift:
    December 27th, 2006 at 1:14 pm
    It is very hard to have any sort of compassion for GM and their troubles when they are being run by a fool who is too old to be relevant…

    I am not at all happy with the ageism exhibited here. Not at all.

  • avatar
    John Williams

    A lot of people harp on about what GM could do, but never do realize that they can’t, lest the people inside the RenCen want to accelerate how long it’d take them to see pink slips.

    Considering that the MBAs, bean counters and stockholders are all about short term quarterly profit as opposed to any long-term strategy that would net them continued profit and viability in the long run in exchange for short-term pain, they are not gonna go for any plan that does not include some way to reap the profits that will come from that plan now.

    So, if GM decided to forgo its high-profit SUV and truck lines for more R&D on their lower-profit but higher volume midsize and compact car lines, we’d rejoice. The stockholders and bean counters, on the other hand, wouldn’t. A few straight quarters of red ink would leave them a bit miffed, and just a bit anxious to lead GM further down the road to bankruptcy.

    As far as consumer preference goes, any attempt by government to influence such usually results in some rather nasty unintended consequences. So for the advocates of higher fuel taxes, keep in mind that the higher costs of transportation eventually filter down to your wallet, as the cost of food, clothing and other goods rises in correspondence with rising fuel costs. Some political careers might be in jeopardy, as well.

  • avatar
    monteclat

    “Bob Lutz is an idiot.” Amen

    The use of this word doesn’t necessarily express the mean-spirit of the user. It could be an expression of the truth.

  • avatar
    charleywhiskey

    There are plenty of idiots in Detroit but Bob Lutz isn’t one of them. He’s giving GM a shake-up it desperately needs and at the same time having fun jerking the chains of various automotive commentators. But he’s only one man swimming in a sea of corporate ennui.

    Personally I think that CAFE was and is bad public policy. Among other things, it loaded the deck in favor of the Japanese companies. A better path would have been to simply tax vehicles based on certified fuel consumption, which may have had the effect of encouraging production of higher quality small cars by U.S. companies.

  • avatar
    willjames2000

    comment withdrawn

  • avatar
    chainyanker

    Dump CAFE and have horsepower limits by class of vehicle, add classes if necessary:

    Sub-compact 150hp
    Compact 200
    Sedan 300
    Full size p/u 350
    Etc.

    Or something like that. Tax if it goes over. End the horsepower wars and start a MPG war. Mustang coupes and Grand Nationals ruled the 1/4 mile with 225-245 hp. Enough is enough already.

  • avatar
    thx_zetec

    Mr. Farago;

    You say that Flex Fuel Vehicles (FFV’s) get 15% worse fuel economy on E85 compared to gasoline. It is actually about 28% worse.

    The ethanol lobby has been spreading the “10 to 15%” worse misinformation for several years, but they have never provided a source.

    The 28% number is based on:

    1. The energy content of E85 compared to gasoline (about 28% worse)
    2. EPA testing of many cars in carefully controlled conditions (optimistic, but same test conditions for all cars)
    epa_link
    3. Car and Driver Test of FFV Chevy Tahoecd_link
    4. Consumer Reports Testing of Chevy Tahoecr_link

    The physics are straight forward, and all the objective testing says about 28% also, but again the ethanol lobby has confused the issue by pre-emptively throwing out the “10 to 15%” figure.

  • avatar
    willjames2000

    chainyanker: “Not a day goes by that I don’t overhear at least a dozen people exclaim, “Lord, how I wish I owned an 8000lb., 500hp, 9 passenger, asbestos lined, r-12 refrigerated, leaded-gas burning vehicle to pull my trailer of 3-wheel ATVs and drive to my lawn dart competitions!”

    Say what?? If your point is that people are too stupid too make the right choices, then why stop there.

    Ever choose the wrong job??? Why not let your guidance counselor choose for you?

    Did you eat too much over the holidays?? Grocery store ought to limit the amount of food they can sell you.

    Drink too much? How about a return to prohibition.

    Speeding ticket? We have the technology to limit speeds NOW. Why not just do it?

    Own a big house?? What an energy waster!! How about a law that limits homeowners to 200 ft2 per resident?? How about a limit on the ft2 of natural gas used per house?? Or the kw?? Or the gallons of fuel oil??

    Cause we all know that Americans are too stupid and, given the choice we’d all buy 8000lb., 500hp, 9 passenger, asbestos lined, r-12 refrigerated, leaded-gas burning vehicles to pull our trailer of 3-wheel ATVs and drive to our lawn dart competitions!

  • avatar
    whitenose

    John Williams: The problem is that the ‘high-profit SUV and truck lines’ are not for long ‘high-profit’ in a world of (a) permanent oil crisis and (b) increasing Japanese, German, Korean, and perhaps future Chinese competition and (c) a declining SUV market.

  • avatar
    thx_zetec

    Mr Farago;

    You state that FFV’s get about 15% worse fuel economy burning E85. Actually it is about 28% worse.

    The ethanol lobby provided the “10 to 15%” figure and many people accept it, but as far as I know no decent study has shown this.

    Testing by EPA, “Car and Driver”, and “Consumer Reports” has all shown about 28% worse. And, no surprise, the energy content of E85 is about 28% lower.

  • avatar
    Rastus

    Well, to follow the thread regarding gluttony:

    Americans by far are the fattest people on this planet. The mass mindset of “consumerism” is just that…to indulge yourself till you bury your fat ass 6″ under with your very own ice cream spoon.

    People REALLY need to learn to stop worshiping the God of consumption. It leads quite naturally to 8mpg SUVs. GM can be viewed upon as the “Hostess” or “Denny’s” of the auto world. Give ’em what they want…and by God, Supersize it for their overindulgent selves!

    It’s not just automobiles…the mindset that overconsumption is wonderful applies to most everything, as the above poster mentioned.

    But just like that Cheny-style hear attack, what goes around COMES around!!

    And somewhere along the fringes, such as the “vegetarians” or the “organic” crowds…there really ARE signs of true wisdom and true reason. Honda and Toyota have stuck to their roots, …and for the most part they have stayed the course, while everyone ELSE is overindulging themselves.

    GM has been one hell of a “case study”…and it truly IS amazing the repeated(!) ignorance they continually display. Keep it up, GM! The entire globe is watching you choke to death on that ham hock.

  • avatar
    chainyanker

    willjames2000: Say what?? If your point is that people are too stupid too make the right choices, then why stop there…………. …….Cause we all know that Americans are too stupid and, given the choice we’d all buy 8000lb., 500hp, 9 passenger, asbestos lined, r-12 refrigerated, leaded-gas burning vehicles to pull our trailer of 3-wheel ATVs and drive to our lawn dart competitions! Maybe I let the sarcasm get in the way of the point. My point was that things have been limited or outright banned in the past for the sake of consumer safety, the environment, or whatever. Democracy and free will survived. Large trucks and SUVs aren't mentioned in the Bill of Rights. When I needed to recharge my A/C, I wanted the old, cheap R-12 but it was banned. Had to bite the bullet and convert. I got over it. I'm no fan of government intervention but limits have to be set somewhere. Vortecs and Hemis? The second age of big blocks? Give me a break. Might as well poke a hole in the gas tank while your at it. People still got around and plywood still got to the jobsite when trucks were under 250 hp. Force the automakers to apply all that research to maintaining horsepower and increasing mileage. Not the other way around.

  • avatar
    jthorner

    It seems to me that since the CAFE standards stagnated at about 1984 levels the fuel economy improvements we saw from auto makers during the 1980s also stagnated. What changed is that a new horsepower war broke out. When the Cadillac Northstar engine debuted at 300 HP it was a revelation, and now a V-6 Honda Accord is rated at almost 250!

    Had CAFE kept inching up we almost surely would have seen continued fuel economy improvement and a much slower rate of increase in horsepower ratings. And lets face it, few people have a need for the kind of power which is now common place. In practice the high power of today’s vehicles is part of why realized fuel economy so often is less than EPA numbers. The EPA test cycle is a fixed cycle and the drivers never get into the available power of the engine … but in real life many people mash on that gas pedal frequently. I see people dashing from stoplight to stoplight all the time. Rarely do the fools accomplish anything except for burning fuel, wearing the tires and wearing the brakes.

    Most people are inherently selfish and take no account of the effect their actions have on the rest of the world around them. “I can afford to drive my V-8 Hemi 6,000 lb. truck at full throttle so it is my God Given Right to do so” seems to be the limit of their thought process.

    So, bring on the CAFE incremental increases and much higher fuel prices. I will agree with Lutz in as much as increased fuel costs would be a good thing! Lutz flys a fighter jet for entertainment, so we know that he doesn’t give a rat how his behavior effects the rest of us.

  • avatar
    willjames2000

    thx_zetec:

    Where do you find the ethanol industry spouting misleading info on ffv fuel ratings? And how could they anyhow, since right on the label the EPA rates FFVs with and without E85. For example, Chevy Impala is rated at 21/31 with gas, and 16/23 with E85, Tahoe at 16/21 with gas, and 12/16 with E85. This calcs to about a 25% drop.

    I really don’t understand all the negative talk about E85 when it has potential to play a part in cutting foreign oil dependancy. Good thing this same attitude wasn’t prevalant when internal combustion was poised to take over from Stanleys steamer. Cars might still be burning wood.

  • avatar
    Rastus

    Overconsumption is GOOD!!!

    http://www.totalobscurity.com/blog/exxon-exec.jpg

    LIVE IT UP, PEOPLE…LIVE IT UP!!!

  • avatar
    automaton

    It seems like some people are getting bent over the perception that Farago was calling Lutz an idiot because he focused on large, profitable, SUVs and pick-ups.

    I’d just like to point out that Lutz was an idiot because that was almost solely what he focused on.

    We can point to the undoubtedly niche Ponturn Skolstice as an undeniable success, but, as pointed out earlier, it has such limited appeal that it has likely already hit it’s peak sales.

    I look at the difference between Ford and GMs approaches to the same basic problems and I’m much more confident that Ford will walk away from this than GM, if for the sole reason that they seem far more willing to make the big changes.

  • avatar
    thx_zetec

    Willjames2000 –

    The “10-15%” figure is widely used by ethanol lobby, here is just one example, the “National Ethanol Vehicle Coalation” website http://www.e85fuel.com

    “Ethanol has less energy content than gasoline. However, E85 also has a much higher octane (ranging from 100 to 105) than gasoline. FFVs are not optimized to E85, so they experience a 10-15% drop in fuel economy. This will vary based on the way one drives, the air pressure in the tires, and additional driving conditions..”

    See this URL:
    link

    By widely distributing the “10-15%” figure they have muddied the waters. They also confuse the issue by saying fuel mileage is affected by tire pressure etc.

    My negative attitude about ethanol is primarily that it is an uncompetitive technology that could not compete without massive subsidies. There are many alternatives to corn ethanol (celluose ethanol, butanol, bio diesel from algae).

    The last few energy crises also had government boondogles, see the huge “synthetic oil” program (disturbing parallels – we were going to produce out way out of it with expensive, domestic, government backed program). In the end the thing that had the largest impact was simply conservation – driving smaller cars.

    A lot of things “have potential to play a part ” in replacing oil – but remember the strenght of the US economy has always been competition, not government picking winners.

  • avatar
    dhathewa

    “FFVs are not optimized to E85, so they experience a 10-15% drop in fuel economy.” – National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition

    Ah-hah. It’s probably an incomplete sentence – maybe deliberately so. I’d guess this would be more informative:

    “FFVs are not optimized to E85, so they experience a 10-15% drop in fuel economy over vehicles optimized for E85.”

    And, actually, FFV makes little sense in terms of enhancing overall efficiency. Why burn ethanol – or anything else – in a wasteful way? Build an engine for gasoline OR ethanol but not both.

  • avatar
    Steven T.

    Farago deserves an award (but hopefully not a purple heart) for displaying the courage to skewer one of the biggest sacred cows in Detroit.

    I’ll leave it to others to debate whether Lutz is an idiot, but there is no doubt in my mind that his managerial prowess has always been vastly overrated.

    Let’s be honest: Even in his better days, Lutz was merely average. However, his has always shown an unusual flair for cultivating the automotive press. Lutz has been doing it for so long that he is now the closest thing the American auto industry has to a managerial “rock star.”

    How does Lutz get such sycophantic coverage? Well, for one thing he gives good quote. Perhaps just as importantly, the automotive press – much like the industry as a whole – has a weird thing for “Top Gun” alpha males who never outgrew adolescence. Lutz has always done a better job of positioning himself as Mr. Testosterone than any other exec in Detroit.

    Yup, the Viper not only saved Chrysler, but has quickly become one of the classic designs of the last century. Lutz must be so proud.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    CharleyWhiskey noted, “There are plenty of idiots in Detroit but Bob Lutz isn’t one of them. He’s giving GM a shake-up it desperately needs…”

    I doubt it. In one of the early DWs (#9 or 10), GM’s announced big turnaround plan was discussed. Among other things, GM intended to dramatically reduce model overlap and fix their badly mixed marketing message. Have they? Has Lutz done anything to accomplish this?

    I just checked Toyota’s and Chevy’s lineups on Edmunds. Toyota has 18 models – and then a few Scions and some Lexii. Chevy alone has about 23 models. And, after we’re done with Chevy, GM also has Hummer (3)… and Pontiac (6)… And Cadillac (6)… And Buick (5)… And GMC (8)… And Saturn (6). And, maybe, Saab. Have they cut the model overlap? Considering the advent of the Saab 9-7, I’d say “no.” Now, GM does offer a few vehicle types unmatched by Toyota (like the Express van) but, still, how many different ways can you say “mid-size car?” Or, more to the point, how many different ways can you say, “big-ass, gas-suckin’ Sport-Ute?” Is this Lutz giving GM the shake-up it desperately needs?

    And that SSR is just a flop. I don’t know if Lutz was on board when that got started but he would have done GM a huge favor if he had looked at it’s 23 cu ft cargo capacity, 2.5 ton weight and cramped passenger compartment and said, “Stop right there, take that thing back to the lab for an overhaul or euthanasia.”

    And I meant to say, earlier, that it looks like Solstice/Sky sales peaked at 2600 units and were down to 2300 for November. OK, maybe it’s a little seasonal, but it sure sounds like the Sky-line that formed around the block at the Saturn dealer now fits into the showroom. Lutz brought these things to market? Big whoop. Memo to Bob: You’ve got to sell a LOT of cars to normal people who are in touch with their actual needs. There’s only so many guys crazy enough to want pig iron like the SSR with enough money to actually buy pig iron like the SSR or even two-seaters that can’t hold two sacks of groceries.

    CharleyWhiskey went on to observe, “Personally I think that CAFE was and is bad public policy. Among other things, it loaded the deck in favor of the Japanese companies.”

    Get serious. GM’s had over twenty years to come to grips with CAFE and emerged from a gas crisis or two – or three – with continuing market dominance. The Japanese accepted the challenge. GM attempted an end-around using the truck loophole, in part by offering badge-engineered versions of every truck-like vehicle they have. And the Japanese beat them on quality and customer satisfaction. CAFE didn’t hurt GM; GM hurt GM.

    CAFE – or something else designed to cut oil consumption – is essential public policy and it’s too damned bad we didn’t get real serious about it a lot sooner. But, in Congress, money talks and nobody walks. Campaign contributions gutted CAFE.

  • avatar
    NoneMoreBlack

    Good article, until:

    According to Maximum Bob, as long as gas costs around $2 a gallon, “people will exercise their freedom to buy the vehicle they want, V8 engine and all.” In other words, Americans are selfish bastards who will buy gas-guzzling land yachts– unless they can’t afford to.

    This just sends something of a shiver up my economist’s spine. Assuming rational consumers, competitive markets, etc etc, people wouldn’t buy these vehicles unless they valued their size over the economy of a smaller vehicle.

    The current growing market share of small cars (at the demise of the iconic “gas-guzzler”) is, rather obviously, coincident with the doubling in gas prices over the last 5 years. His comments merely imply that all else being equal, the aggregate of consumers (and, as any economist would argue, all consumers) would prefer a large car to a small car. Until all else isn’t equal, via high gas prices, social stigmatization, small parking spaces, etc, there is no incentive to buy a smaller car when a larger one is available.

    For example, crowded cities and relatively high gas prices in Europe are the largest explanatory variables for the shape of the auto market there. This phenomenon has nothing to do with American’s being “selfish bastards” and Europeans being environmentally concious, altruistic bastions of charity; incentives are universal.

    I would boil your argument down (and correct me if I’m missing a key point) to Lutz and the rest of GM failing to recognize that consumer preferences (and market incentive structures) have changed, and continuing to attempt to flog the same cars they’ve been selling for decades to the finish line. Unfortunately, and I say this with the greatest respect for you, you appear to have fallen into the trap of approaching an argument based on economic theory without a strong enough basis in economics to fully analyze it.

  • avatar
    jthorner

    As I understand the bizarre EPA rules, a vehicle which is capable of running E85 gets to count it’s fuel economy for CAFE purposes as if only the 15% of the fuel which COULD BE gasoline counts. “Thus, a full-size, V-8 powered SUV like the GMC Yukon is rated at 33 mpg for CAFE purposes — higher than the current passenger car CAFE minimum of 27.5 mpg — when in fact it only gets 15 mpg in city driving and 20 mpg on the highway, according to the EPA.” http://securingamerica.com/ccn/node/8147

    Never mind that fact that few, if any, of these “flex fuel capable” vehicles actually are running E85. Never mind that there are lots of questions about how much energy it takes to make E85. Farmers are burning up a whole lot of diesel fuel to grow and ship that corn. Ethanol plants are going through a lot of energy turning the corn into ethanol.

    Selling flex-fuel vehicles allows GM and Ford to hit their already 1985 low hurdle for CAFE without actually shipping a fleet of vehicles which hit the numbers. Rather pathetic when you know the story.

    As to the idea that higher CAFE standards mean putting US based companies out of business: total nonsense. Why is it easier for the Japanese to achieve higher fuel economy standards than the US companies can (answer: it isn’t!) ? What magic is only available to Japanese engineers (none)? Why have the US companies simply given up? Whatever happened to Yankee Can Do!!!!!!!

  • avatar
    chainyanker

    automaton:
    I look at the difference between Ford and GMs approaches to the same basic problems and I’m much more confident that Ford will walk away from this than GM, if for the sole reason that they seem far more willing to make the big changes.

    I agree. I think the collective ego of GM is what’s holding it back. The “mine’s bigger than yours” design philosophy will only get you so far. Dodge has a 6.1 liter Hemi? We’ll build a 6.2 liter vortec! Ford built a 5.4 liter supercar with 550hp? We’ll build a 7.0 liter corvette with 650hp! Sales down on a certain model? See if we can squeeze an LS smallblock in there!

    I think it’s a sad commentary on the state of things when Ford feels they need to re-activate the big bore Hurricane engine program to keep up with the others during a time of high prices and instabilty in the oil market.

    But I do give them credit for being the first to bring DOHC V6s & V8s to high volume, lower priced cars (domestic, at least) and while many see the lack of a V8 in upcoming Lincolns as a nail in the coffin, I find the developement of a DI twin turbo V6 to do the job encouraging.

    Of course, whatever Ford or DC do, GM will match 110%. But numbers alone don’t sell cars. It’s the whole package with a lot of intangibles that can’t even be named but you’ll know it when you see it. It’s why the Mustang outsold the statistically superior Camaro/Firebird and new GTO and will outsell the new Camaro.

    Also, Ford now being #3, it shouldn’t feel the pressure to have an offering in every segment like GM and four different incarnations of it. GM’s pride won’t let it back out of any segment, so talent and resources stay spead thin.

  • avatar
    Luther

    Neilberg offered, “Lutz was able to encourage the GM teams to develop the Solstice and this resulted in a car that sells well. Give him SOME credit for that.”

    Combined sales of the Sky/Solstice are 2300 units this past month. I’d bet a quarter I could go the nearest Saturn dealer and get a Sky off the lot at less than MSRP today.

    This wont even keep GM retirees in Viagra.

    I gots a plan… GM Market Cap is about $17B… If all us TTAC readers click on TTAC’s Michelin Ad say 5,000,000 times each then RF could purchase a controlling stake in GM and we all could implement some of the ideas posted here. We could also obtain “free” Viagra (Although carpal tunnel medication would be a better idea). RF as CEO of GM… Talk about shaking-up an industry! He would make Captain Kirk look..well… Viagra-deficient.

  • avatar
    Rday

    GM and the rest of Detroit have sealed their own fate. By using their lobbyists to convince congress to keel the CAFE standards lower, Detroit has made sure that whenever energy prices take a hike, they will suffer major damage. In effect, they have sealed their own fate. By caving in to these special interest groups, Congress has condemned many Americans to having to find lower paying jobs and a lower standard of living. To think that Detroit or our Congress can control the price of oil is like GW thinking that a war in Iraq would stop terrorism. Oil will become a higher priced commodity as China and India increase their appetite for more cars and the fuel to run them. Something is seriously wrong when our government/industry has encouraged the growth of Chinese suppliers and not considered the effects of all of these dollars on the world price of oil. We have used our own dollars to literraly bid up the price of oil on the world energy market. And Detroit and the Congress still don't get it.

  • avatar

    I found these two comments on Autoblog re: Lutz’ achievements at GM:

    From RUKiddingMe:

    Lutz hasn’t had a hand in any of the GM’s best selling autos? You can’t be that uninformed of what Lutz has done at GM, unless of course you haven’t been privy to:
    The Solstice
    The Sky
    The Lucerne
    The Cobalt
    The Aura
    The G6
    The current Malibu
    The current Impala
    The upcoming Camaro and Malibu
    The revamping of Saturn as GM’s North American Opel Brand
    The corporate mandate to improve GM interiors across all car lines
    The Cadillac V-Series
    The upcoming CTS productline extension

    The GTO, by the way, although not the greatest vehicle on the road, did sell to expectations and brought non-Pontiac customers into their showrooms. It was also succesful enough to warrant GM’s utilization of its’ Holden brand for the upcoming Impala and Grand Prix.

    From laserwizard:

    Here is Lutz’s achievements in four years:

    1. Removed plastic from the sides of Pontiacs
    2. Badge engineered the G5, CSV, Torrent, Acadia, and Outlook.
    3. STOLE a design form DCX to build the Me Too Cruiser.
    4. Allowed the mishmash heap of dung known as the Buick LaCrosse to emerge stillborn looking like no Buick ever.
    5. Oversaw design for GM during its single greatest marketshare loss in its history.
    6. Has virtually destroyed brand identity at GM through tepid designs.
    7. Crows that Solstice (sic) and Sky production is sold out even when production capacity is the only thing starving the models from contributing to profitability of GM – demand is nothing compared to days when GM sold double that in Camaros and Firebirds in a year.
    8. Allowed half-baked remakes of GM full-sized trucks and sport utility vehicles without advertising their strengths (perhaps because there weren’t any).
    9. Insulted the press when the press was accurate in condemning the pathetic pace of change at GM under Wagoner and Putz.
    10. Still has no Camaro or Firebird to sell to the public.

    In the world of business, what Lutz has done should have earned him termination. A man with so little in positive contributions should be pushed off the tallest floor of GM headquarters and allowed to remain spread on the concrete as a reminder to every GM employee what happens when you accept mediocrity.

  • avatar
    starlightmica

    I remember driving one of Lutz’s Neons as a rental over a decade ago, a year or so after it came out. Most memorable – pull knob for the headlights and a 3 speed auto.

    My impression: technologies for the Seventies, but reskinned for the Nineties. Sort of like what he did with the LaCrosse, but updated a decade. And they hail him as a savior?

  • avatar
    Glenn A.

    The comments about CAFE and especially ethanol are interesting, and highly relevant to GM (and the Detroit 2.5).

    Guys and gals, have a peek at this web site and see if it doesn’t ring your bell.

    http://www.butanol.com

    Now, this (American) inventor’s process is making it possible to obtain Butanol (4-carbon chain alcohol fuel, a drop-in substitute for gasoline) PLUS hydrogen (presumably for fuel cell cars) instead of just Ethanol (2-carbon chain alcohol), for a significant increase in the amount of net energy coming out of the motor fuel.

    Plus, no FFV vehicles would be required to use it. It has virtually the same energy (BTU) per gallon as gasoline (110,000 vs 115,000 for gasoline), significantly higher than pure Ethanol.

    I’ll add yet another twist here, and say I’ve been “testing” gasohol (now called E10) 10% ethanol gasoline since 1980 in virtually every car I’ve owned in the US since then, and have obtainied 7% to about 20% less MPG than standard gasoline – which, to my mind, makes ethanol a complete waste of time and in the end, probably INCREASES our requirements to import oil from those-who-would-kill-us-all.

    As for E-85, and FFV’s, it’s all a scam to allow the Big 2.5 to build monster-trucks and escape CAFE, and we all know it and they do too! They “fixed” the Congress with some donations towards re-election, and we all know that too.

    The big 2.5 AND the politicians deserve what is going to come to them. “Fire ’em all!”

    Personally, I’m going to buy Toyotas and Hondas (some of which may even be made in the United States, and that’s fine) and vote for real change in Washington, that is, the Constitution Party. (If no Constitution Party candidates ran, I voted for Libertarians).

    Einstein once said that one definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result. This certainly applies to all of us in the voting booth, and when we choose our next vehicles, too.

  • avatar
    mikey

    R.F In your comments you quote good and bad views would that not be true of anybody in any industry at Bob Lutz level.
    I can,t help thinking that the good quotes from RUKiding me
    overide the bad quotes from laserwizard.
    Imapala good
    plastic off Pontiac wonderfull
    newish trucks We one awards
    The g6 and Cobalt are holding thier own
    The Camaro?
    I do agree the Lacrosse is a dud
    Improving interiors REAL GOOD THING!how many times have crappy interiors been mentioned on TTAC?And rightfully so
    It might be time for bob to move on,but I don’t see bob as a failure in his time at GM.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    starlightmica: “I remember driving one of Lutz’s Neons as a rental over a decade ago, a year or so after it came out. Most memorable – pull knob for the headlights and a 3 speed auto.”

    Don’t forget the front power windows while the rear doors had manual roll-down windows on four-door Neons.

  • avatar
    jthorner

    GM’s pride won’t let it back out of any segment, so talent and resources stay spead thin.

    Unless you consider minivans a segment :). Nah, there are only going to be around a million of them sold this year. Hardly worth the effort. Let’s build the Solstice/Sky.

    Who needs to sell rear wheel drive vans to the contractors of ‘merica. Kill the Astro instead of updating it. Close some more factories. Hand more of the market to the Koreans or let it wait for the Chinese.

  • avatar

    There is a good discussion here…
    1. Yes, butanol certainly seems to be a good answer. I did some layman (well, non-chemist) searching and butanol seems to be the most compatible hydrocarbon to our present infrastructure. FFVs do not appear to be in touch with reality CAFE-wise, and is ethanol something that I feel comfortable investing in as a taxpayer…there are simply too many problems with production and transportation.

    2. I think that we are all trying to find fault in Lutz’ oddball failures, but I rejoice in them. All good ideas come from a distribution of ideas that includes some BAD ideas. So anyone who is effective in creating real GOOD change is almost necessarily going to have to create some stuff that doesn’t work. I am very happy that GM has someone who is willing to shake things up a bit, even if he does some fringe (well, fringe for GM–e.g. SSR) models with one hand and some convervative models (e.g. FS SUVs) with the other hand.

    Perhaps it is not the goodness or badness of the models that we should evaluate, but rather the desire to be liberal with new designs/radically evolve old designs. After all, some of the latest DCX models (e.g. Sebring, Aspen) are rooted in the lack of change and they haven’t worked out that well.

    GM has taken some steps toward embracing change…maybe they are simply at the stage of just not being afraid of change…but I hold out some hope for GM. Lutz is encouraging change, best I can tell. In face of just having written that sentence, I am rather disappointed that there is a tendency to reject CAFE changes. Well, as a colleague once pointed out, “Don’t be surprised at their fear of change…this is the industry that had to be FORCED to install seatbelts!”

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    To all Neon haters:
    1. The 3 speed auto was awful, but the 5MT was quite good, and well paired to the 130hp engine.
    2. The pull knob for headlights worked. Pull it out, headlights on; push it in, headlights off. Perfect for a car that just barely cost five figures.
    3. Roll down cranks for all 4 windows were just fine considering you could just reach over and roll them down or unlock any door. Also, hand cranks have no electric motors to die on you. Remember, we are talking about late 90’s Chrysler quality here.

  • avatar
    geeber

    I agree that Bob Lutz is overrated, but it is important to remember a few things:

    1. If you think the LaCrosse is a dud, you should know that Lutz stopped the planned model and forced a major makeover. The pre-Lutz LaCrosse was even WORSE (I’ve seen spy photos), if that can be believed.

    2. The LaCrosse, Impala and Grand Prix are based on the ancient W-body platform because GM hasn’t had the cash to replace it, not because Lutz is too incompetent to realize that it is outmoded.

    3. Blaming him for destroying the brand identity of GM’s (too) numerous divisions is not fair, as they had no brand identity to destroy by the time he came on board. GM’s brands have been a mish-mash since at least the early 1980s, when the great downsizing effort forced the various divisions to share engines and a fair amount of the sheetmetal, especially on the smaller models.

    4. GM’s market share was in a long-term decline long before Lutz came on board. The worst that can be said about him is that he hasn’t stopped it, but it is also worth remembering that, in virtually every case, he has been forced to tweak designs that were already in the pipeline, as opposed to being in charge of a model from conception to production.

    5. If I recall correctly, he did not make the decision to bring the SSR to market, and did not have much say during its development.

    6. He is entirely correct to condemn CAFE as an awkward and ultimately fruitless attempt to reduce fuel consumption, as it does nothing to change the public’s desire for certain types of vehicles. It focuses on the supply end of the chain, not the demand end. It’s ultimately as fruitless – and dumb – as the 55 and 65 mph national speed limts, the other silly and (wisely) ignored statist response to the fuel “crises” of the 1970s.

    Ironically, the biggest criticism of him is one that most people miss – the Solstice and Sky are, once people get past the good looks, really mediocre vehicles, and are thoroughly outclassed by the Mazda Miata. He IS completely responsible for those vehicles, and deserves every bit of criticism for their flaws.

    GlennA: You do realize that the Libertarians would scrap CAFE and let the free market decide what vehicles companies should build? That is one reason, of course, that I like Libertarians…

  • avatar
    blautens

    I just think the nickname “Maximum Bob” is hysterical…I wonder if Lutz knows about it or has read the book. Anyone know this detail?

    For what it’s worth, I (very selfishly) do enjoy the fact that GM found ways to stuff the LS2 into otherwise very pedestrian vehicles to pump up sales. But I would credit that more to John Heinricy than Lutz, unless Lutz is the reason for Heinricy’s presence (any of you more knowledgeable than I feel free to chime in on that).

    I wish it were a more complete package, but you can’t turn a turkey into a swan without years of evolution (and maybe a little gene splicing), and that hasn’t happened yet.

    CAFE is a good idea in theory, but has rules that allow it to be horribly manipulated by automakers like GM, particularly with the E85 loophole that gives GMT900’s incredible ratings assuming they’re only using 15% gasoline.

    Whether or not you thing E85 is worthwhile (and I don’t), that part of the equation is just wrong.

  • avatar
    chainyanker

    jthorner:
    Unless you consider minivans a segment :).

    You got me on that one but as I understand it, the GM minivans will be around until 2010 and once the Ford entry is gone, it’s hard to imagine GM sitting on its hands watching its minivan buyers go to DC or imports. There might just be a quick refreshening to squeeze a few more years out of their minivans.

    And I didn’t forget the rear drive Astro, but after the Aerostar was gone, it was alone – It’s hard for me to consider that a segment when there’s no competition.

    Anyway, I’m just glad to see someone read my post! I’m new to this and just want to say good site and good posters! Sorry if I rehash something already beaten to death.

  • avatar
    son of Bob Lutz

    Won’t the “improved” EPA fuel economy test (goes into effect 9/07 for MY2008) have effects similar to raising CAFE standards? The 2008 procedure will reportedly lower most vehicles’ CAFE ratings by better simulating actual driving conditions (higher cruising speed, etc.). If current CAFE ratings are artificially high, the change in procedure should result in increased fuel economy because the standards will be harder to meet, even if they haven’t changed. Has the EPA found a loophole?

  • avatar
    Zarba

    Is Lutz an idiot? Dunno.

    However, he’s been in charge for a number of years, and GM’s market share contiinues to fall, and thier cars contuinue to be second rate compared to Japanese competitors.

    Solstice/Sky: I said on GM’s Fastlane Blog when the cars were intorduced that I gave them a year before sales cratered due to the lack of a trunk. Sorry, but even in a roadster, people want to be able to drop the top AND take their bags with them, not have to choose between the two:

    http://fastlane.gmblogs.com/archives/2005/12/a_closer_look.html

    Lucerne: Came to market with a 4-spd auto and a pushrod V-6. We call that “Bringing a knife to a gunfight.” See my comment above on FastLane.

    SSR: Worthless waste of resources.

    Cobalt: Still a couple fo generations behind the Civic.

    Aura: Just finished 4th (Behind the KIA!) in Car and Driver’s test of mid-priced sedans, even though it had a V-6 vs. the others I-4’s. They derided the cheap interior and fit and finish. Car and Driver said: “Have GM’s engineers EVER sat in a Honda Accord?” On the plus side, it placed better than the Camry (Due to handling and some surprising fit and finish issues), and the Chrysler Sebring (Handling and interior/exterior wierdness.)

    Malibu: “Ooohhh, wait till you see the new interior.” Great. The car’s sales are way off, and the public has already fixed the crap interior in their minds. Should have had a world-class interior to start with. Horse is out of the barn already.

    G6: Still a generation behind Honda. Close, but no cigar. How ’bout them pushrods???

    Impala: Drives the wrong wheels and could put a meth addict to sleep.

    CTS: A decent car except for the junk interior. Sat in one at Amelia Island when they came out. Really was rooting for this car, but the interior quality was abysmal. See earlier comment re: Horse and barn…

    V-Series: Tough one. CTS-V is good, but it sells at such low volumes that it can’t even buy Lutz’s Viagra.

    STS-V: Another possibly great car hobbled by a junk interior. Again, sells at such low volumes that it can’t possibly help profits.

    Changed Saturn into Opel America: Hmmm, let’s see…. support two brands, two marketing budgets, two engineering staffs, etc. If that’s all Saturn is, then kill the brand and sell….I dunno….OPELS!

    SAAB 9-7X: Need I say more?

    SAAB 9-2X: See above.

    GMT900’s: Look at your local paper’s ads. Cash on the hood already. Production already cut.

    Enclave/Acadia/whatever: Looks like a hit. I’ll give them that one. The Enclave is very attractive. I just hope they get the quality right. Everyone said GMT900 was the linchpin, but it looks to me like these will generate some serious cash for GM.

    So I give Bob 2 hits: Solstice and the new Crossovers. 13 or 14 misses.

  • avatar
    thx_zetec

    SherbornSean

    Regarding the pull-knob for the headlights, I agree: I consider this the best approach, a control that US automakers never should have abandoned. Standard (there are now several locations for this), easy to find at night (just use you left hand to find it), and easy to replace (many cars now combine 1,200 functions into control stalks that care costly to fix).

    Anyway I am off-topic. I will let the world flame away at my heresy ;-)

  • avatar
    windswords

    SherbornSean:
    December 28th, 2006 at 11:46 am
    Remember, we are talking about late 90’s Chrysler quality here.

    Actually you are talking early to mid 1990’s here. The Neon was introduced in Jan 1995 as a 95 model. When you understand the design philosophy used to develop this car then you will understand the choices that were made. Now let’s go back in time…

    It’s the early 90’s, funds are tight. Chrysler is thinking about getting their replacement for the aging Sundance/Shadow twins from Mitsubishi. A team within the company, invigorated by the Honda study Chrysler made leading to the developement of platform teams makes a pitch to develop such a vehicle in house. Lee gives his approval.

    A decision is made early on that there is not enough money (and maybe not enough expertise) to develop a car that can match the Japanese feature for feature. So instead they employ the “80/20” rule. Let’s make sure the car does the 20% of things that 80% of the people really care about as well as any car on the market (at this time – remember this is the early ’90’s). So they concentrated on roominess (cab-forward), acceleration (base 132hp SOHC, available 150hp DOHC), good manual trans (previous Chrysler MT’s were meiocre at best), and drivability.

    To save money (one of the goals of the program was make a PROFIT with this car – and they cannot sell them for as much money as the imports due to their previous well earned reputation), they didn’t offer a 4 spd auto (didn’t think it was a deal breaker to prospective buyers), lots of options, or a different grill and name for Dodge and Plymouth. Think of this car as the anti-badge engineering whip.

    When it was introduced the car was an immediate hit. Automobile magazine gave it a very good writeup and made it their “Automobile of the Year”. Toyota did something I have never seen them do since – they criticised the car in the media. They said that to Toyota standards it was only at a “prototype” level. I can only think that Toyota was worried about what this car could do to their dominance in this segment.

    After a good start the Neon fell prey to quality issues (like head gaskets), and Chrysler, like it’s domestic bretheren, didn’t make an effort to keep the car competitive with the rest of the market (Ford Taurus anyone?), but played the tired old game of “good enough”. It could have been an American success story if they hadn’t given up on it.

  • avatar
    thx_zetec

    I think Neon was under-rated.

    The styling was good. No – not “drop dead gorgeous” but distinctive, functional without being bizare. I think one of the most under-rated designs. I know a couple of people who had 5-speed versions and they loved them.

    Neon had two problems.

    As mentioned above it cut corners. People can live with rear window cranks, but not head gasket issues. A 4-speed auto would have help perfornance.

    Second problem was this was wrong car a wrong time. Cars were out of style, especially (ugh) economy cars. The go-go economy of the 90’s, low interest rates, low gas prices led people into the “big iron” (SUV’s and trucks).

    They say generals are always fighting the last war. Maybe this “taught” Lutz that small cars are obsolete.

  • avatar
    windswords

    Zarba:

    Do you live near Amelia Island? If so we will have to link up and attend the Concours d’Elegance in March together.

  • avatar
    Glenn A.

    geeber wrote: “GlennA: You do realize that the Libertarians would scrap CAFE and let the free market decide what vehicles companies should build? That is one reason, of course, that I like Libertarians…”

    Yep. And if Constitutionalism and a free Republic returned to our land, we would also have no taxation of our income, but only via Federal Excise (purchase) tax and Tariffs, as indicated as the only legal two means of taxation in the United States Constitution, which may as well be torn up, as little as it is heeded by the powers-that-be that we currently elect. Taxes would be WAY lower because the Constitution only allows for taxation to run the government for the specific purposes as written in the Constitution (i.e. a legal, Constitutionally correct U.S. government would probably only need 1% of what is now collected in taxation to do it’s duty). You know, “duty” – like the defense of the nation, not playing policeman to the world who don’t want a policeman.

    So, a tariff on the (overall, bad for America) imports of crude oil, gasoline and diesel fuels from abroad would be emplaced, which would thus encourage common-sense sized vehicles, and genuine American ingenuity in replacing oil with U.S. source energy, whether Butanol and hydrogen production replacing ethanol production, light sweet crude from garbage, offal and sewage (see http://www.changingworldtech.com), wind generators, wave generators, solar power and so on. This would mean jobs for Americans, in case that escapes your attention.

    Socialism (which passes as Republicanism and Democratism now in our country) would go away, and people would have to actually either cope with life, work and the responsibilities of assisting others who are not as fortunate, or be assisted by others until they could get on their feet (not by having the income of the working people forceably taken away for social work). Sounds cruel to many at first blush (because as a culture we have been brainwashed to think that way), but is it better to teach a man to fish, or just to hand him a fish every day? In which way is a man free, and in which way is he a slave? So, why should I voluntarily give away a tithe to my church, partially in order to help those falling through the cracks of the socialist system (i.e. the church food pantry), AND 30% of my income or more under duress of the IRS? Isn’t it taxation without representation, to be forced to give taxes for state sanctioned program which I do not agree with, such as abortion for welfare recipients, or wars in other nations to protect the interests of big corporations, even foreign corporations? Didn’t the founding fathers fight for their independence over just that matter? Yes, they did.

    Not having socialism worked well enough in civilized nations throughout much of recent history, and worked in our nation until 1933 when the socialists extended the depression. It’s interesting to note that all prior U.S. recessions and depressions were WAY shorter in duration before 1913 when the Congress usurped their own Constitutional power and gave away monetary control the the “Fed”.

    Wow, what a concept. A nation made up of responsible citizens who are allowed to do as they wish with their own money (i.e. gold and silver, not fake lies on paper), do not have to go into debt unless they choose to, with a debt-free government reigned in by law. Look at history. 100 years ago, most people did not go into debt for 30 years for home mortgages, they saved and spent the money to build a home. Obviously, homes were appropriately sized for comfort and affordability, which naturally provides for lower energy costs. (For example, it is less expensive to build a 2 story home of 1500 sq. ft. than a one story home of 1500 sq. ft. and also less expensive to heat or cool – look at home architecture from 100 years ago, vs. now). Likewise, automobiles were saved for and purchased, even into early the post-war period. Look at how the “low priced three” cars went from 15′ to 16′ long and 3000 pounds in 1950, to 17′ to 18′ long and 4000 pounds by 1959, from 110 horsepower in 1950 to 225 horsepower in 1959. By the end of the 1950’s, people even could put 2 or 3 year loans on their cars!!!! Unheard of until about 1956, when the idea of instant gratification started to take hold in our culture.

    A truly good life is all available to us, it’s all historically been in place in the United States. We just have to be smart enough vote it in. I admit it probably won’t happen because when a group of people in power wish to retain power, they simply bribe the people who put them in power by making them believe they are giving them something (such as pork-barrel politics giving out, say, a $10 million dam building job in a certain district, while taking away $15 million in taxes). In other words, making a fool out of the populace and dumbing down the populace, which has transpired.

    Anyone who doesn’t think our nation has been dumbed down should look at an 1890’s school book in which you’ll find a final exam for the 8th grade. I was shocked when I saw such a book in an antiques store – despite a college degree and IQ of 127, I would not have passed the test with a passing grade, and probably, the vast majority of worldwide citizenry would not have, either. Shocking. Do you know that in 1890’s America, we had a vastly higher literacy rate than 2006? Shocking.

    But then, people deserve the government they vote for themselves, don’t they? That maxim goes for us, just as it does for the Iranians, Iraqis, North Koreans, Soviets in the era of Stalin, Germans in the Nazi era, etc. In other words, if you cannot rise up and overtake evil with good, you deserve the evil. Isn’t it a given? We reap what we sow, and if we can’t be bothered to ensure there are no weeds in the crop, we starve. Weeds always manage to out-grow good grain.

    We deserve better than what we’ve had for, oh, about 75 years. It’s up to us to wake up and change things. Or, if you can’t be bothered, at least stay out of the way of those of us who wish to do so (i.e. don’t bother voting if all you are going to do is sleep-walk into the booth and vote for the status quo).

    I mean, let’s be honest, here. The arabs shot across our national bow in 1973, in 1979 and in 1990. The elite in power and in charge of the United States, INCLUDING those in charge of the oil and auto companies, have had a third of a century to make changes on behalf of themselves, the population, all of our children and grandchildren and so forth. Nothing but the status quo has happened, in reality. So, since they’re so STUPID – and they have been – maybe it is time for us not to be, before it is too late and our votes count as much as they did for people in Stalinist Russia, Nazi Germany, modern Iran.

    Heh, it’s just a thought. I can dream. Think over my words, my internet friends, and happy new year.

  • avatar
    jazbo123

    The arabs shot across our national bow in 1973, in 1979 and in 1990. The elite in power and in charge of the United States, INCLUDING those in charge of the oil and auto companies, have had a third of a century to make changes on behalf of themselves, the population, all of our children and grandchildren and so forth. Nothing but the status quo has happened, in reality.

    Umm… in other words they are idiots, which brings us full circle.

  • avatar
    Luther

    Lincoln may have freed the slaves but the 16th Amendment enslaved us all.

    Bow down to your Fed Central Bank Masters.

    (Ron Paul is the only DC Scumbag that isnt a Scumbag)

  • avatar
    Luther

    Another Lutzism from USA Today about the GMC Acadia:

    “GM Vice Chairman Robert Lutz says the crossovers are emblematic. “This is about as good as we know how to do right now. This is as good as it gets,” he said introducing the Acadia here. “This is a ‘no-excuse’ vehicle.””

  • avatar
    Terry

    Luther, is not every Toyota/Honda/Nissan vehicle built emblematic of their perspective maker?
    Is Lutz saying…”Yeah, well, we know our cars suck, but at least they suck less than they used to suck, and anyway, forget the cars, look at our CROSSOVERS!!!”?

  • avatar
    kaisen

    A counterpoint article from Reuters that credits Lutz as saving GM:

    http://yahoo.reuters.com/news/articlehybrid.aspx?storyID=urn:newsml:reuters.com:20061227:MTFH36551_2006-12-27_14-02-08_N18489457&type=comktNews&rpc=44

    Small excerpt from the linked article:

    Since becoming General Motors Corp.’s “car czar” last year, Bob Lutz has delivered a consistent message to engineers and designers: abandon business as usual.

    With GM staring down bankruptcy fears in 2005, Lutz, 74, was the catalyst behind a successful effort that brought the launch of the new Silverado and Sierra pickup trucks forward by three months.

    Getting the revamped GM trucks to dealers this year helped to shore up sagging U.S. sales and beat rival Toyota Motor Corp.’s much-anticipated Tundra by a full quarter.

    More recently, Lutz, GM’s vice chairman, has had Toyota in his sights again by pushing GM development teams to leapfrog the Japanese automaker in areas such as electric vehicles, according to people familiar with the effort.

    Although Chief Executive Rick Wagoner was in the hot seat this year as the automaker slashed costs and shut plants after a $10.6 billion loss in 2005, the next stage of GM’s turnaround will hinge on efforts spearheaded by Lutz, analysts say.

    “Lutz is a man with vision and discipline,” said Dave Cole, chairman of Center for Automotive Research. “Most importantly, he has an absolute passion for the product.”

    In the past two years, Lutz has pushed for change in areas where he admits GM lagged, such as design, quality of interiors and the time it takes to bring new vehicles to market.

    (3 more pages of article at link)

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    Windswords,
    You’re right about the timing — I actually got the first Neon delivered to Pittsburgh in February of 1995.

    THX Zetec,
    There was a third problem with the Neon; the platform simply wasn’t structurally robust, leading to lousy safety scores. I can overlook a lot of flaws in a car, but that one became a dealbreaker and I dumped the Neon when it turned 10, just short of 100K miles.

    Sorry we got off topic — please resume the Lutz bashing.

  • avatar
    Luther

    Terry: My MBA Decoder Ring informs me that Lutz was saying "If those people at TTAC criticize me for the GMC Acadia, then I will just retire and fly my jet around. 2008 Toyota Tundra… Oh ****!

  • avatar
    Glenn A.

    I had the dubious disctinction of having TWO Platinum 1999 Dodge Neons at the same time, one for my wife (which did impress me at the time of purchase) and then one for me. We confused our neighbors. So, at the beginning, I accepted the Neon’s limitations and even liked the car enough to buy two.

    Before long, both had head gasket “issues”. One car, twice while we had it, and the other had it go the 2nd time when our college age son had it. Finally, after he had it under 3 years, the engine seized. As in – seized solid, welded pistons to block.

    I have to say these were the last Chrysler products I’ll ever own. Also the last U.S. branded products (both were made in Toluca, Mexico – what’s “American” about that? I was convinced to buy a ‘genuinely’ foreign car – a 2002 Hyundai Sonata – after this).

    Chrysler should have worked out the bugs by 1999, in fact, before introduction.

    C’mon, GM, Ford and DCX. Get a brain. Toyota and Honda prove it every day – build something right the first time and it ends up cheaper for everyone, less hassle for the customer and more profit for the company. You also get repeat business.

    An unhappy customer tells 10 friends, a happy customer only tells 1 or 2 – it’s a fact of life.

  • avatar
    Glenn A.

    son of Bob Lutz wrote:
    “Won’t the “improved” EPA fuel economy test (goes into effect 9/07 for MY2008) have effects similar to raising CAFE standards? The 2008 procedure will reportedly lower most vehicles’ CAFE ratings by better simulating actual driving conditions (higher cruising speed, etc.). If current CAFE ratings are artificially high, the change in procedure should result in increased fuel economy because the standards will be harder to meet, even if they haven’t changed. Has the EPA found a loophole?”

    I understand the answer is “yes” – the EPA’s figures they use for CAFE have ‘nothing’ to do with the published numbers. So changing the figures printed on the cars has no relation to the ‘legally binding’ figures that the EPA use for CAFE (and which I presume they share with the car companies but not the public).

    We are, after all, talking about a U.S. Government agency, here. In other words, it simply doesn’t HAVE to make sense for them to do something a certain way…

  • avatar
    Johnson

    my depiction of MB as a clueless blowhard whose ideas date back to the days when Detroit dismissed small (yes small) imported cars as “Jap crap,”

    Maximum Bob. Bob “The Putz” Lutz. He’s really done it this time. Let’s make an analysis as to how close your comment really is to reality. Lutz is over 70. Check. Lutz has proven on many occasions to be out of touch with reality, and with market trends. Check (for proof, look for Lutz’ admittal that GM dismissed hybrids). Combine all of these together, and you certainly have a recipe for disaster.

    Calling Lutz an idiot is certainly not out of the question.

    GM, with Lutz being the main spokesperson, has blamed the media for it’s trouble, with Lutz saying “it’s unfair how the media portrays GM vehicles to be of inferior quality when in fact our vehicles are proven to be high quality reliable vehicles”. GM has blamed the government before too, saying that Japan is unfairly manipulating it’s currency to help it’s own automakers, and that the US government does not want to help American automakers. GM has (and is) blaming CAFE standards for “forcing” them out of markets, or “forcing” them to build certain types of vehicles. GM has blamed high fuel prices for a drop in demand for it’s vehicles, namely trucks and SUVs.

    GM, and Lutz consistently are pointing fingers at others, but never themselves. The current management team and Board of Directors at GM are not fit to turn the company around. They are incapable of the radical change needed to compete with Toyota, Honda, and others.

    Lutz in his blog post perfectly illustrates why he is an old, ignorant fool, showing he doesn’t know the facts regarding CAFE. Heck, he’s a fool for even making such kind of insulting remarks public.

    I am actually surprised nobody yet has discussed this remark that Lutz made:

    There is no technological bag of tricks that enables much better fuel economy than we have today. We already have maximum aerodynamics, active fuel management, six-speed transmissions, electric power steering, direct injection, and hundreds of dollars (per vehicle) of other technology that saves a tenth of a mile per gallon here, two-tenths there. Despite what alarmists may think, we don’t have any magic 100-mpg carburetor that we’re holding back because we’re in bed with the oil companies.

    We are working daily toward real alternative fuel solutions to reduce our dependence on petroleum, using the most advanced technologies available, and some that haven’t even been invented yet. Stay tuned for the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January to hear more of what we’ve been up to in this area.

    Maximum aerodynamics? What are you thinking Lutz? GM’s trucks and SUVs have the drag coefficient of a brick, and you call that maximum aerodynamics? For shame.

    Six speed transmissions? As I recall, most of the GMT-900 trucks and SUVs still lack that. I have yet to see Direct Injection on any of the GMT-900 vehicles, save for those that are Duramax-equipped.

    Wait, but Lutz also mentions that GM is working on “real” solutions using alternative fuels with the most advanced technologies available.

    Got twisted by your own hypocrisy Lutz? In one paragraph, Lutz mentions “there is no technological bag of tricks that enables much better fuel economy than we have today.”

    Then, in the next paragraph Lutz says to reduce dependence on petroleum (which is also equivalent to increasing fuel economy) GM is working on alternative fuel solutions using “the most advanced technologies available, and some that haven’t been invented yet”.

    Technology that hasn’t been invented yet? Sounds like the “technological bag of tricks” which Lutz claims does not exist … and YET, GM supposedly is “working” on this?

    I hope all of you realize that what Lutz in effect in saying in his blog post (other than blabbering on and ranting about how “unfair” CAFE requirements are) is that GM is giving up, “giving away” the market to the Japanese. Lutz is also, in effect saying that there is no more room for improvement when it comes to fuel economy.

    Guess what Putz, there is always room for improvement. Stick that in your fat cigar, and smoke it.

    As long as the dashing duo, ‘Wagoner and Putz’ remain at the helm of GM (and their loyal followers, the Board of Bystanders), the company’s fortunes will continue to decline on a slippery slope to bankruptcy. If GM is fortunate, they will re-emerge after Chapter 11 as a fresh new company. If not … well then … I think you all know what happens with Chapter 7.

  • avatar

    >>>cykickspy:
    December 27th, 2006 at 1:34 pm
    definition of idiot:
    Psychology. a person of the lowest order in a former classification of mental retardation, having a mental age of less than three years old and an intelligence quotient under 25.
    Doesn’t calling someone this without proof leaves you open to a lawsuit?
    wonder if Bob will sue TTAC?

    My guess is that Bob would be considered a “public figure,” and public figures do not have legal recourse. Otherwise, I’d be in grave danger of being sued by GWB, as probably would half the country.

    As a matter of writing style, I’m ambivalent about RF’s having called MB an idiot. It’s obvious from the column that the respect level for MB is low, that is, on a scale of 1-10, it’s in the negative numbers. And, technically speaking, I doubt that MB is a real idiot. On the other hand, saying it in such an unsubtle manner has an appealing punch.

  • avatar
    mikey

    ZARBA
    Where ya gettin your info? GMT 900 cutting production I don,t
    think so.
    Last production meeting on Dec 22 o6 numbers were 1345 a
    day 5 days 450 on Sat or 900 if the union agrees[they will]
    Impalas are running a little faster 7000 plus Monte Carlo
    a week.
    In the shipping/recieving world our numbers have to be accurate.
    But who knows maybe you got info they don”t tell me

  • avatar

    The wine bottle michelin ad is amusing. Go Bibendum!!!

  • avatar
    son of Bob Lutz

    I found the answer to my earlier post on this page:

    href=”http://www.dieselnet.com/standards/us/fe.php”>

    In short, NHTSA maintains CAFE figures that aren’t necessarily (read: are not) related to EPA mileage estimates. As such, new EPA mileage numbers will not lead to increased fuel economy.

    If anyone who reads this post is paid to find ways to trim the federal budget, this may be a good place to start.

    …How about that…I’ve gone from optimist to cynic in only two posts…

  • avatar
    Zarba

    Mikey:

    “With the sales of the new GMT900 platform SUV’s still strong, GM is looking ahead to assure that future inventory doesn’t overrun demand as it has in the recent past. The company announced today that it will be reducing production in three plants that produce the GMC Yukon, Cadillac Escalade, and Chevrolet Tahoe from 56.5 vehicles per hour to a nice even 50. The plants will remain closed for the first half of January, extending the normal 1-week holiday shutdown to three, and then resume production at the reduced rate.

    GM expects some staffing adjustments to occur, but has not yet determined how the slow down will affect employees at each assembly plant, which are located in Janesville, WI, Arlington, TX, and Silao, Mexico.

    [Source: Automotive News]”

    By my calculation, that means an hourly production cut of 11.5%, and extending the shutdown by two weeks means an effective production cut of 3.8% on top of the hourly slowdown.

    or maybe GM doesn’t tell you what they tell Automotive News…

  • avatar
    mikey

    ZARBA
    Your original post did not specify SUVs.I think of GMT900 as the full size ex.cab and crew cab GMC/Chev pick up that are doing quite well.
    Thank you for pointing that out and I stand corrected

  • avatar
    ghughes

    I say scrap the CAFE BS altogether and let people buy what they want- the heavily subsidized and protected japanese manufs will always be ahead of us on small cars, bec. thats what their market is. Lutz isnt an idiot-but I like the way you guys harsh on GM and their products, something surely(?) will wake them up from their nap? – Losing 100s of thousands of jobs and share hasnt.

  • avatar

    thx_zetec:
    I think Neon was under-rated.
    The styling was good. No – not “drop dead gorgeous” but distinctive, functional without being bizare. I think one of the most under-rated designs. I

    I beg to differ. The Neon was a very dorky looking car until very late in its short life. “Hi.”

    I will say this for it though: It at least had a little tiny bit of charm–dorky charm, but charm nonetheless. Also, it was at least coherent in its dorkiness. That is, the front and the back looked like they belonged to the same car. The Caliber is ugly, and looks as if assembled from pieces plucked randomly from the styling bin.

  • avatar
    Terry

    ghughes:
    December 28th, 2006 at 6:05 pm
    I say scrap the CAFE BS altogether and let people buy what they want-

    Well now, isnt that what people are doing? People are buying what THEY want to buy, not what the the big 2.5 want people TO buy.

  • avatar
    Steven T.

    While it is useful to assess the specifics of Lutz’s actions, I think that a larger question needs to be asked: Can a 74-year-old person – any person — save GM?

    Most large corporations have mandatory retirement rules for a very good reason: It takes adaptability, stamina and mental acuity for an executive to be effective in today’s tumultuous world. Those qualities are harder to come by as old age sets in.

    Lutz’s rant regarding CAFE once again raises the question of whether he is still up to the job of GM vice chairman and “car czar.” And because Lutz is so visible, his shakiness undercuts the credibility of GM’s entire management team.

    By continuing to give Lutz so much power and visibility, is GM admitting that its executive succession system has collapsed?

    That’s the polite way of putting it. Perhaps the more blunt question is whether GM suffers from such an advanced case of “fatal conservatism” that it refuses to give younger talent a crack at saving the company.

    I suspect that what is going on behind closed doors is a battle between the generations. Lutz likes to present himself as a reformer, but in important respects he is very much the embodiment of GM’s old guard.

    Why is the old guard clinging so tightly to power when it has displayed so little success in turning GM around?

  • avatar
    Wolven

    Glenn A for PRESIDENT!

    It truly is too bad most Americans are so ignorant of the princicples and freedom that this country was originally founded on.

  • avatar
    cheezeweggie

    I loved the idiot comment. Quit your crying Lutz.

    We currently own a 06 Nissan Altima, which is certainly not a small car. It has a peppy 2.5l 4-cylynder 175 HP engine and averages 28 MPG in 90% local (non Highway) driving. This midsize car achives nearly the same economy as my 94 Sentra with a tiny 1.6l engine.

    Lutz, you are an idiot. Now have your lackies design a decent hybrid system for the Silverado and dry your tears.

  • avatar
    HawaiiJim

    Age is not the issue. There are people who go to college for the first time in their eighties, just as seniors run marathons, climb mountains, start businesses, perform surgery, write their first novel, you name it.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    David Holzman: “I will say this for it though: It at least had a little tiny bit of charm–dorky charm, but charm nonetheless. Also, it was at least coherent in its dorkiness. That is, the front and the back looked like they belonged to the same car.”

    Ironically, the Neon’s most notable style feature, the round headlights, were not at the instigation of Lutz but, as the story goes, was one of the last decisions at Chrysler made by his then-boss, Lee Iacocca. Supposedly, the original Neon styling concept drawings had more normal, rectangular shaped headlights. When shown to Iacocca, it was he who insisted that it get the round headlights.

    As to the fellow who commented that a small car doesn’t ‘need’ electric rear windows, the point was that if a small car was equipped with electric windows (whether necessary or not), all of the windows should be powered. The Neon was the only small car in its class that, when so equipped, the rear windows were manually rolled down.

    And as far as the 3-speed automatic in the Neon goes, IIRC, the excuse that Chrysler gave for not having a 4-speed automatic in the Neon was that the limited room in the transmission tunnel would cause a 4-speed automatic to overheat. A somewhat odd rationale, considering that all of the Neon’s competitors managed to get a 4-speed automatic into their transmission tunnels without causing the transmission to overheat.

  • avatar

    Of course, rudiger, you must remember that Chrysler’s 4-speed automatic, was, to put it kindly, a smelly, steaming pile of crap in its early years. I say that as a die-hard Mopar fan. They had enough trouble keeping it alive in a Caravan; can you imagine the tranny failures a 4-speed Neon might have had?

    The Neon was a better car than people think it was. Once you gave it its mandatory head gasket replacement, it could hold its own in the durability derby. 1st-gen Neons are still an everyday sight here in the Detroit area, but I’ll admit this may be the only place where Neons greatly outnumber Civics. The 2nd generation was vastly improved, but the damage was done.

  • avatar
    ZoomZoom

    So has anybody clicked on the picture accompanying the article? Noticed the big yellow “RESCUE” sign?

    Robert, you sly dog!

    Edit: I just read the caption; it WAS intentional. Nice!

  • avatar
    Glenn A.

    Thanks for the vote of confidence, Wolven, but I’d rather see someone more suited to the job of President than I. But, I’m flattered!

    How about Ron Paul for President? Alan Keyes for VP? Judge Roy Moore for Speaker of the House? All under a Constitution-Libertarian Party banner (the two parties would need to agree to put aside their differences and merge).

  • avatar
    Steven T.

    HawaiiJim:
    It’s true that one can point to individual examples of elderly robustness. However, that hasn’t stopped many corporations from imposing a mandatory retirement age for its executives. This represents good corporate governance.

    Whether Lutz is still up to the job at 74 is a legitimate question. This is particularly important given the weird cult of the personality that surrounds him. Did you see the sycophantic Automotive News piece on him the other day?

    I don’t question that Lutz has some good qualities, e.g., he has displayed decent taste in his styling decisions. But, as Farago demonstrates, Lutz also embodies some pretty reactionary – and inaccurate – thinking.

    Lutz’s continued dominance at GM suggests that the current regime has circled the wagons and is afraid to let in the fresh ideas that could save the company. I flatly refuse to believe that GM’s management bench is so thin that no one could step into the role of car czar right now and immediately begin to outperform Lutz.

    What’s that little man doing behind the curtain?

  • avatar
    Glenn A.

    Jerry Flint is more-or-less saying, General Motors, Ford and DCX are now….. American Motors.

    And we all know how well THAT worked out. NOT.

    See for yourself.

    http://www.thecarconnection.com/Auto_News/Commentary/Flint_Hit_Em_Where_They_Aint.S192.A11378.html

    So, DCX has said they’re bringing back the “Hornet” name.

    When can we expect a PACER? Maybe that should go back to Ford from whence it came anyhow (1958-1959 Edsel Pacer preceded the 1975-1980 AMC Pacer).

    How about a Chevrolet GREMLIN? They could saw-off a Malibu, I suppose…

  • avatar

    Steven T: While it is useful to assess the specifics of Lutz’s actions, I think that a larger question needs to be asked: Can a 74-year-old person – any person — save GM? Most large corporations have mandatory retirement rules for a very good reason: It takes adaptability, stamina and mental acuity for an executive to be effective in today’s tumultuous world. Those qualities are harder to come by as old age sets in. A lot of people function very well well into old age. Brian Barru, the progenitor of all of the O'Briens, who lived around the 8th century AD died in battle at age 74. Nobel prize winners Tom Schelling (econ, 2005) and Robert Solow (econ, can't remember the year), in their early 80s, could probably run circles around a lot of people half their age. Whether you think he's a blessing to the country, or a curse, Ted Kennedy is one of the most effective people on Capitol Hill. He's the same age as Lutz, give or take a year. Jimmy Carter is also remarkably active and productive in his early 80s. Harold Laufman, a noted MD, designed the "hospital" tents for the first Gulf War when he was probably in his upper 70s. And as for flexibility in old age, I think Nixon's ability to remake himself into an elder statesman was rather impressive (he died in '94 at 84). So, yes, if anyone can save such a bloated beaurocracy as GM, there are probably 74-plus year olds among them.

  • avatar
    gfen

    How about a Chevrolet GREMLIN? They could saw-off a Malibu, I suppose…

    Too late, they already called it the Malibu Maxx. ;)

  • avatar
    philipwitak

    lutz is nuts! [can i say that?]

  • avatar
    Zarba

    Mikey:

    Thanks. Amid all the flame wars around the web, a little courtesy is appreciated.

    I enjoy your posts, you always come with game!

  • avatar
    corvette

    I am an ex-successful GM dealer that has been reading ttac since the start and I have never commented on the dw series. I have agreed with RF nearly 100% of the time. I think the two central themes of their of their fall will be way too many brands and this ties into way too many dealers. Secondly the upper mamagement needs to be totally replaced, from the board of directors down thru RW and the bs expert Lutz. The dealer and brand thing will be extremely hard and expensive to do, right now some attrition is going on, but these guys are good at survival. We had to be.As for management , Kerkorian owned 10% and he got nowhere, but by a miracle he got out alive.
    As always brilliant writing RF.

  • avatar
    EJ

    I’m reading this article late, but I can’t resist putting in the last comment.

    The CAFE law is an American invention to lower fuel consumption without raising taxes. We don’t want taxes in America, do we?

    Europeans have high fuel taxes and also high and progressive license fees (heavy cars are taxed far higher) and it works very well: Europeans drive small vehicles and take the bus or bicycle far more often than we do. Europeans also do without amenities such as automatic transmissions and airconditioning, not to mention cargo space and towing ability. We wouldn’t like that in America, would we?

    The CAFE law is much to the advantage of GM: GM’s average selling price is far higher in the US than in Europe.
    So, Lutz advocating fuel taxes over CAFE sounds… disingenuous (I wouldn’t dare to call it stupid).

    The only problem with CAFE is that the standards haven’t been raised much over time. A plan to gradually and slowly raise the CAFE standard to, say, 40 MPG in 2020, would be very beneficial to America and give GM lots of time to adapt. Get on board, Lutz!

    (Ironically, despite their small cars, Europeans are far ahead in the sports department and generally drive a lot faster than Americans. How about driving in the right lane in stead of the left lane except to pass, America?)

  • avatar
    Toxie2725

    I have to honoestly say that yes, I would prefer to drive a Pilot over a CRV. Does that make me evil, irresponable? No it doesen’t, although YOU seem to think [quote] Americans are selfish bastards who will buy gas-guzzling land yachts– unless they can’t afford to.[/quote] THat buying a SUV to tow something, haul a large family cumfortably, or just because you WANT to. It isnt selfish – any more then shoving YOUR values (enviromentalism) off on other people. People will drive – FIRST AND FOREMOST – what they can afford. That is simple economics, not selfishness.


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