By on February 27, 2008

0505007_9.jpgHollywood has the Oscar. Nashville has the Grammy. Broadway has the Tony. And TTAC has the "Lutzie." The Lutzie is our award for the industry executive who made the most outlandish statement or statements, demonstrated a total disconnect with reality and/or inserted their pedal extremity firmly into their oral cavity with alarming regularity. We're looking to you for nominations, starting today. Tell us who you think is most deserving of the award and give us a quote that illustrates their worth in a comment below. We'll take nominations until 6 PM EST Wednesday and open the final voting on Friday. Voting will end 6 PM EST Sunday and we'll announce the winner Monday. And yes, GM Car Czar Maximum Bob Lutz is eligible. 

Nominations are closed.  Voting will  start Friday morning and run through 6PM EST Sunday.  Results will be announced Monday Morning.

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62 Comments on “Your Nominations Please: The First Annual Bob Lutz Award...”

  • avatar

    Then I suggest Mr. Lutz himself. I’ve never seen any executive be so out of touch.

  • avatar

    Perhaps there could be three awards. I would give the gold, medal and silver to Bob Lutz, Bob Lutz and Bob Lutz.

    I would post some support materials here, but that might crash the server.

  • avatar

    that photo has the PERFECT backdrop for this award.

  • avatar

    I’ll go with outlandish but I don’t see a total disconnect with reality. We may be the disconnnected ones. How can we prove that he is ” totally disconnected with reality ” ?

  • avatar

    For Win, Place, & Show: how about Aztek, Uplander, and Ion?

  • avatar

    The trouble with allowing Maximum Bob to be eligible is that he’s so over-the-top he makes everyone else appear normal. We should just give him the life time achievement award.

  • avatar

    People: we need quotes here…

  • avatar

    I’d like to nominate Bob Lutz, “Car Guy” of GM, for a Lutzie, for his remark on January 30th, 2008, “Global warming is a total crock of sh!t.”

    It’s not that global warming is or isn’t a total crock of sh!t; I happen to think it’s valid but set that aside… The problem with this remark is, who does Lutz think will buy his damned Volt for north of $30K if it isn’t people dedicated to the idea that reducing atmospheric CO2 is necessary and worth a premium price? Spitting on your likely customer base… that’s not smart.

  • avatar

    There are so many wonderful quotes to choose from. How about this, on the topic of downsizing pick-ups and SUVs?

    “You can say in the future we downsize, and the Chevy HHR [a compact wagon] becomes the new Suburban [Chevrolet’s largest SUV]. Now, what do you do when you want to tow a horse trailer? Work with miniature horses?”

    Yes, Lutz always sees a problem keeping him from doing the obvious.
    How to save the world from downsizing the horse?

    His phenomenally clueless statement on the correlation between rich people and gas prices clued me in to the fact that Lutz thinks GM should be making cars for the wealthy. That’s something you can aim for when you’re making half a million to a million cars a year, tops — if you’re shooting for nine million, that may not be a wise strategy.
    Here’s Lutz on form:
    “Everybody thinks high gas prices hurt sport utility sales. In fact they don’t,” he said, adding that buyers of big S.U.V.’s like the Suburban, GMC Denali and Cadillac Escalade were well-off enough to be insulated from rising gas prices.

    “Rich people don’t care,” he said.

    Ooops. The Tahoe was thirsty.

    Yes, Lutz is making cars as if we’re back in the 60s and everything looks like endless expansion.

    Anyone reading his Fastlane blog (as if he’s writing it himself. Well, maybe he is …) will find a few fascinating comments on GM’s problems.
    In one memorable blog entry he wrote both the pro’s and con’s of GM’s misery:

    This issue, this question of how do we increase awareness, improve our image, and enhance public opinion of our cars and trucks, is weighing on everyone’s mind in this company, from the plant floors to the boardroom. We are all weary of hearing that “GM doesn’t have any vehicles that people want” or that GM “doesn’t excite anyone” or doesn’t have any products that are “relevant.”

    2. Same blog entry, just a few para’s on:
    And yet, the coverage of our financial state continues to point out our alleged lack of cars and trucks that people want. All the while more than a quarter of the vehicles sold in America are ours.

    You couldn’t make this stuff up! The guy should have his own comedy show on TV. Strangely, he’s running product development over at GM.

    Yes, product development. He once claimed that the Prius was a money loser that made little contribution to saving fuel and that distracted from efforts to build cars powered by hydrogen.

    Not long afterwards he did an about face, stating that “Toyota scored a major coup with hybrids even though they didn’t have a business case.”

    I rest my case.

  • avatar

    In the early sixties GM was producing fuel injection systems, overhead cam 4 cyl. motors, monster 7 litre 8 barrel motors, transaxles and changing sheet metal every year. They were covering all the bases and making huge profits . I really believe that this is what Lutz would like to be able do.

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    Robert Lund, Chevrolet’s GM in 1982, at the unveiling of the all-new Chevy Cavalier: “We’re tired of hearing how the domestic auto industry let the Japanese take the subcompact business away from us. The whole Chevrolet organization is spoiling for a fight.”

  • avatar

    I also think that Lutz’s statement about global warming is correct, but he has made many other outlandish statements that are deserving.

    Another vote for Lutzie for the Lutzie…

  • avatar

    Lutz is right on about the rich not caring about gas prices. He is making a general statement about the rich and not considering vanity. These same people are way more concerned with their image { dumping highline autos during the depression when they could still well afford them}.

  • avatar

    Bob HAS to win the first Lutzie:

    “Bankruptcy is totally out of the question. We have never contemplated it.”

    “This business is finally all about making money. And buying market share with incentives to get an unsustainable share is just not a good strategy.”

    “What obviously surprised us is gasoline rising from $1.50 to $3 a gallon,”

  • avatar

    kansei :
    February 25th, 2008 at 4:34 pm

    that photo has the PERFECT backdrop for this award.

    I count three big flops.

    Also, I’d nominate Cerberus Capital Management. Talk, talk, talk about saving Chrysler. Where are they now?

  • avatar

    Well we couldn’t call it a Lutzie if he didn’t win this award in it’s inaugural year. Here’s some gems:

    “Being able to “think outside the box” presupposes you were able to think in it”

    “What’s Good For GM Could Become Good For China”

    Think Belt Driven Hybrids – “For us to go out with a half-baked system just to get a few months out, I don’t think would be prudent.”

  • avatar

    My nomination is going to be Carlos Ghosn; in particular, his stance on hybrids.

    He viewed them as a “terrible business prospect” and a “fad”*. Well, we all know how hybrids turned out. Even if they make a small loss on each car (and this fact is still hazy), the value that hybrids add to a company’s marque is worth its weight in gold. It’s Mr Ghosn’s lack of vision which will always stunt Nissan and Renault’s growth.

    * =

  • avatar
    Edward Niedermeyer

    Call me partisan, but George W. Bush leaps to mind…

  • avatar

    Does this have to be a quote from 2007? Wasn’t the “Global Warming Crock of Shit” from 2008?

    I like “No one care what mileage a bulldozer gets”. But again, that was in 2008.

    I think there are some gems coming out of Telsta… I have go back and read those birthwatch posts.

  • avatar

    Yes, we should have someone breathing down Bob’s neck, and Carlos Ghosn is a good bet.
    How about this one:
    ” We’re coming to Tennessee,” said Carlos Ghosn. “The costs of doing business in Southern California are much higher than the costs of doing business in Tennessee.”
    He might have wanted to check into how many of his core management team were willing to relocate. It turns out that the cost of replacing them is much higher than the cost of …

  • avatar
    Alex Dykes

    Bob Lutz really should win this award the first year…

  • avatar

    My vote goes to former Tesla CEO Martin Eberhard:

    “We are still planning to start production of the Roadster by the end of next month and deliver the first cars to customers this fall. We have a good chance of meeting this goal, but to be fully transparent, I want you to know that while it is within our reach, it is not yet fully within our grasp.”

    Weasel words appear to be well within his reach/grasp.

  • avatar

    “General Motors is dedicated to the removal of cars and trucks from the environmental equation, period. And, believe it or don’t: So am I! It’s the right thing to do, for us, for you and, yes, for the planet. My goal is to take the automotive industry out of the debate entirely.”

    I’ll let you guess who said that.

  • avatar

    I think Lutz should win the first award but Ghosen is a close second for moving Nissan NA HQ to Tennessee.

    You know, Tennessee that progressive and open minded state?

    The new Dodge Challenger and Pontiac G8 are the two products that should win the Lutz award. The two vehicles like the man himself is desperately living in the past and oblivious to the current global issues effecting the automotive industry.

  • avatar

    kjc117 Touches on another need; an award for “Product Most Out of Touch with Reality.”

    I’d suggest calling such an award “The Essies,” in honor of that Prince of Detachment, the SSR and all of Chevy’s lame SS wrong-wheel-drive efforts. Of course, there IS some linkage to the Lutzies there…

    However with the Essies I don’t think GM would dominate the nominations quite the way they do with the Lutzies. Non-GM entries that spring to mind would be the Phaeton, that Maybach convertible-thing and the Routan. Perhaps even the Smart. Oh, I like the idea of the Smart but for as much as a Corolla? Nooo… Pricing alone can indicate a failure to connect with reality.

    GM’s not without its Essie entries, of course, but with the Essies the rest of the industry could still make it a race.

  • avatar

    “Call me partisan, but George W. Bush leaps to mind…”

    Oh, is he the one who said “It depends on what your definition of “is” is…”

  • avatar

    To hell with a Lutz award, do a book on Clutz-isms.

  • avatar

    “Customers with questions or concerns should contact the Toyota Customer Experience Center at 1-800-331-4331.”
    – Closing statement of one of the most mailed documents of the year in 2007- The all too common Toyota recall letter!

  • avatar

    It is a differcult topic because then people would have to read what execs say. (cold Shiver)

    Mind you, I saw Nardelli dressing down at the Daytona 500, attempting to look like a Nascar fan.
    He had taken his tie off.

  • avatar

    The bimbo (in the very real sense of the word) at the Mercedes display at the Toronto International Auto Show, who dismissed a well-dressed, designered-jeaned want-to-sit-in-the-car lady with ‘Mercedes owners don’t wear jeans.’

  • avatar

    Rick Wagoner

    “We’ve got to stay the course.”

  • avatar

    I want to say Bob Nardelli, after making his infamous “bankruptcy” quotes to WSJ should deserve an honorable mention. But when considering that sentences including the words “Chrysler” and “bankruptcy” are probably truthful, I wonder if that really qualifies as “outlandish” at all.

  • avatar

    McCain during his primary speech on Iran- `You know that Beach Boys song? Bomb, Bomb, bomb…`
    The next quotes, I ain`t gonna tell you who said them, but you can`t fail in guessing.
    `I believe that people and fish can co-exist peacefully` or this` The illiteracy level of our children are appalling.` or this Einstein`s equation-` Make cars that people want`. Sounds like a thesis for master`s paper, doesn`t it? :)

  • avatar

    Can any GM-insiders help us out here`?

    Lutz says the following to Newsweek –

    When Lutz first proposed creating an electric car in 2003, the idea “bombed” inside GM, he says. “I got beaten down a number of times.” After pouring billions into engineering futuristic fuel-cell cars (still years away from production), GM engineers didn’t want to switch gears to a plug-in electric, which they insisted couldn’t be run on lithium-ion batteries. The turning point came when tiny Tesla Motors, a Silicon Valley start-up, announced in 2006 that it would produce a speedy electric sports car powered by those same laptop batteries. “That tore it for me,” says Lutz. “If some Silicon Valley start-up can solve this equation, no one is going to tell me anymore that it’s unfeasible.”

    So – Bob is the EV champion inside GM? Really???

    There’s another sweet one in the article:

    “I believe strongly that this country has to get off oil,” he says, sitting beside a massive V-16 engine on display in his office. “The electrification of the automobile is inevitable.”

    This, of course, completely disregards the fact that the energy to drive an EV has to come from somewhere. He’s right, but for the wrong reasons with today’s energy infrastructure.

    The same article provides us with Lutz’ Swan Song vision:

    Now Lutz envisions selling hundreds of thousands of Volts a year, probably priced below $30,000. Detroit’s horsepower jockey insists the Volt will be his crowning achievement—and his swan song. “This is like JFK’s call for the moon shot,” he says. “I want to stick around to see the Volt come to market. Then I’ll pack it in around 80.” And ride off into the sunset on electric power.

  • avatar

    Skooter :
    February 25th, 2008 at 8:25 pm

    “Customers with questions or concerns should contact the Toyota Customer Experience Center at 1-800-331-4331.”
    – Closing statement of one of the most mailed documents of the year in 2007- The all too common Toyota recall letter!

    One wonders if you’ve ever had the “pleasure” of dealing with General Motors’ customer service.

    You could be sitting in a burning 3800-powered car and they’d still deny warranty claims and offer you a whopping $500 toward the purchase of a new GM vehicle. It’s like talking to a brick wall. Under no circumstances will they respond in any way to please the customer.

  • avatar

    Malcom Bricklin. The father of the Yugo was planning to bring Chinese-made Chery cars to the US. What he said:

    “We have an exclusive North American distribution agreement with Chery to bring in five brand-new models for delivery in 2006 to go on sale January of 2007”

    “We are shooting for 250,000 vehicles the first year.”

    “What I do best is import cars, and this is the most incredible opportunity in the car business”

    “I’d like to look at it as being the next Toyota.”

  • avatar

    We should start with the old guys first, like the first Henry Ford. Ah ha! Most of you are shocked that I would recommend Henry when he was so successful. A pioneer of the auto industry and the father of the assembly line. I think if we shared our thoughts about this guy , he would easily win the first award.

  • avatar

    Bob Lutz – HANDS DOWN

    Of course, if you won’t let us nominate Lutz, I think Chris Bangle’s “Axis of White Power” speech deserves a nod.

  • avatar

    As I recall, the “America’s Cup” was named for the first winner of the race, the yacht America. The “Lutzie” deserves no less even though there is no shortage of over-compensated and under-imaginative competition. Like the Oscars, mightn’t TTAC’s “Lutzie” expand to other areas like Design Chris Bangle), Total Cluelessness (Bob Nardelli), Advertising (I’m sure there are scores of nominees for this one) and so forth. No doubt the creative and always willing editorial staff of TTAC will find a means to immortalize Maximum Bob in all the ways that he deserves.

    The worst thing about Lutz is that, unlike Rick Wagoner, who cannot be expected to have any feelings for a piece of machinery whatsoever, Mr. Lutz has shown that he does have some passion for vehicles in general. Yet he seems so steeped in the Detroit kool-aid that it is marketing and branding that make great vehicles, he is unable to smell crap when they build it.

    Might I also suggest a “Solstice” award for the best idea that was pulled too early from the oven?

  • avatar

    I nominate Stefan Jacoby from VWoA. The quote that comes to mind is that they’re going to be selling as many cars as Toyota in North America by 2018. And they’re going to be selling a Chrylser minivan as a VW “Routan”. How pathetic can a company get? Along with all the other missed opportunities when car sales were doing well and they had complete crap for product choices, VW deserves this award. And don’t forget VW’s horrific dealer network, that’s an added bonus.

  • avatar

    I love how people on this sight think they know more about the auto biz than this guy. That somehow he’s an idiot.

    This is how mr. lutz has always operated. He has been the man responsible for some of the best cars in the history of the automobile. He put BMW on the map. He created the superb 80’s Fords. He gave us the Viper. He is doing wonders at GM.

    Name me one other auto executive who has had more influence over the entire auto industry than this guy, and at so many different places. Soichiro Honda? Maybe. But not to the degree Bob Lutz has.

    Yet all we hear is people here tearing this guy a new one. Why does he not get the benefit of the doubt? Cause he works for General Motors? How about if he were at VW? Or Porsche? Or Toyota?

    I’ll have to come back. IIRC, that winkerdorn dude at the head of Porsche has made some pretty boneheaded comments as of late. Same with the VW chair guy (was that 800,000 units per year in the US??). Ferdinand Piech?

  • avatar

    He created the superb 80’s Fords…….. He is doing wonders at GM.
    I’m having a tough time remembering those superb 80’s Fords. But they were the best, weren’t they???

  • avatar

    I think someone is drinking Lutz’ kool aid.

  • avatar
    Matthew Neundorf

    Max Bob wins hands down…

    “Kirk Kerkorian has not been through the design dome,”

    “then we would have to take a look at a phase-out. I hope we wouldn’t have to do that. What we’ve got to do is keep the brands we’ve got.”

    “The choice is no longer between keeping the same job or keeping the same job at a lower wage, … The choice is now keeping the same job at less compensation or having no jobs at all in this country.”

    just a couple gems.

  • avatar

    Wow, I thought BMW’s engineering put them on the map…and I certainly don’t remember anything fantastic from Ford or GM from the 80’s.

  • avatar

    Was it Mullaley or Fields who recently called the new Taurus “the Homer Simpson of cars”?

    Makes me want to run out and buy one!

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    Here’s what Lutz did at Ford (wikipedia): “He was also a Vice President at Ford Motor Company, where he led the creation of the Ford Sierra, initiated development of the original Ford Explorer and spearheaded importation of models from Ford of Europe to the United States under the short-lived Merkur brand. The failure of this initiative hurt his political position at Ford and may have contributed to his departure for Chrysler. He was a frequent internal political rival of eventual Ford CEO Red Poling.”

    He was head of Ford Europe most of the eighties. The Merkur was a bomb, and the Explorer a no-brainer (a tippy Cherokee imitation).

    He wasn’t actively involved in the most interesting Ford eighties products: aero-Fox bodies and Taurus.

  • avatar

    I still think Chris Bangle and his “Axis of White Power” beats anything Max Bob ever said. Perhaps “outlutzes” is a better phrase, because only an artist of Bangle’s caliber would think of saying that to describe a display, and then not apologize for the miscommunication. Obviously its our fault for listening to his words and twisting them the wrong way.

    Jerome10: care to tell me what exactly Lutz did for Ford? Last time I read the history books, folks like Trotman, Telnack, Veraldi and Donald Peterson were the guys who put product first and saved the company.

    Lutz has been on GM’s payroll for 7+ years, and he’s yet to make a dent in the Import’s growing market share…much less a slam dunk, Sierra-ish, turnaround vehicle during his tenure.

  • avatar
    Mike S

    Chris Bangle (the master of the stuck-on-bits design philosophy)

    “I wanted to avoid a …. chopped up look.”
    The Car Connection Apr 2007

    Just drop that hatchet and back away slowly Mr. Bangle.

  • avatar

    Yutaka Katayama. The original Maximum Bob.

  • avatar
    P.J. McCombs

    Could be apocryphal, but I remember hearing that, at NAIAS ’07, a Changfeng exec described China’s ambitions towards the US market thusly:

    “I are going to come all over you!!”

  • avatar
    Voice of Sweden

    I’m reading an old german edition of auto motor und sport, issue 5 of 1975. They interview Lutz as the Generaldirektor of Ford-Werke AG Köln.

    (my translation)

    What was your result for 1974? A loss of 20 million or 30 million D-mark?

    Lutz: I don’t want to talk about how big our loss was.

    As a former fighter-pilot and bike enthusiast what do you think of the new Escort?

    Lutz: It would go against Ford’s model politics if I tried to connect my sporty hobbies with the Ford brand. I belive the Escort is a calm, sound and fuel efficient car. And the current flow of orders for the new Escort, is practically twice that of the old Escort at its peak.

  • avatar
    Brian E

    I nominate James Selwa, recent ex-CEO of Maserati North America, for his John Edwards’ Evil Twin speech at NAIAS 2008.

    “We don’t focus on the mass affluent, the folks who trade up on occasion or buy a Hermes (?) tie, or add a little extra credit card debt to buy that nice pair of shoes.”

    “The super rich, the one half of one percent who control all the wealth in this country, will play a critical role in deciding which luxury brands are going to prosper and which are going to feel the pain. So, it’s easy to sum up. The rich are very rich. And the very rich have lots of money to spend.”

    You can just hear the smugness dripping from his voice. Fast forward to about the 7:30 mark to skip the boring sales figure and vehicle introduction bits.

    As Dubspeed Driven put it: “This fuggin’ guy is going to start the Bolshevik revolution right here in Cobo Hall!”

  • avatar

    “Yet all we hear is people here tearing this guy a new one. Why does he not get the benefit of the doubt? Cause he works for General Motors?”

    I believe he hit the proverbial nail right on the head…

  • avatar

    I nominate Edmunds’ Ed Hellwig, who recently wrote of the Pontiac G8 — the car that’s supposed to Save Pontiac, remember — “Pontiac says the GT will have EPA ratings of 15 mpg city/24 mpg highway. When you take into account its sizable 19-gallon fuel capacity, the GT will go more than 420 miles on a single tank…Not bad.” Uh, an EPA combined rating of 18 mpg (on premium, which around here currently runs about $3.69) is “not bad”? I guess by 1975 standards it’s not, but for something that’s supposed to be a mainstream product, that borders on delusional.

    Runner-up might be any quote from Pete DeLorenzo regarding GM that involves the words “class-leading” or “turnaround.”

    Reality check, please.

  • avatar

    argentla I don’t think the premium fuel 19 gallon tank and mileage are going to hurt it in it’s target market too bad. That is only 2 more gallons and 2 mpg less than our Legacy GT and people are still buying cars in that segment. Now how many of the GT do they plan to sell and is the more mainstream V6 way more effiecient? If the numbers are too high on the first and low on the second then I agree they will have some problems, par for the course at Pontiac right now.

    Skooter TTAC is pretty fair in exposing all the executives from other brands stupidity and failures. If Lutz would just shutup and get to work creating these next generation game changers he might not be getting this award. But since he loves to get up and sound stupid A LOT I think he is most deserving of the award in his namesake. I will give him credit for speaking his mind however confused it is most of the time.

  • avatar

    Skooter, it has nothing to do with GM.

    Just as a general rule of thumb, auto industry executives should refrain from talking about the “Easter bunny” when discussing their product plans and timing.

    If you say a major rival will have egg on its face on a date 4 months out because your product will be doing thus-and-so by that date, your product really ought to do thus-and-so by that date or you risk looking stupid.

    And if your rival doesn’t call your product plans “wacky,” don’t say your rival called your plans “wacky.” Using that word tends to associate you with that word.

    Put these elements together and you’ve got major comedy potential. Unfortunately, GM is not a comedy club, it’s a car business.

  • avatar

    KixStart I totally forgot we are fast coming apon out “Easter Bunny” deadline for a running Volt prototype. Or did they scale that back to a last gen Malibu with a working E-flex drivetrain?

    Lutz needs an “Egg on Your Face” award.

  • avatar

    @Skooter and Jerome10

    “Yet all we hear is people here tearing this guy a new one. Why does he not get the benefit of the doubt? Cause he works for General Motors?”

    I believe he hit the proverbial nail right on the head…

    I’ll have to repeat this one then. I have, for years, found Lutz completely out of connection with what’s actually going on in the world – and this quote from Newsweek couldn’t sum it up any better.

    “I believe strongly that this country has to get off oil,” he says, sitting beside a massive V-16 engine on display in his office. “The electrification of the automobile is inevitable.”

  • avatar

    ex-GM CEO Jack Smith. When he said this oh so many years ago, it was a rare moment of insight into the minds of GM’s executives of the time — the mindset that led, expectedly, to today’s GM: poor product, a messed-up brand identity, overlapping brands, free-fall market share.

    Smith’s quote:

    “We’re not in the business of making cars; we’re in the business of making money!”

    I imagine he said it with a smug grin on his face.

    Fool forgot that it’s the cars that make the money.

  • avatar


    Some years ago I was present at a meeting where a GM executive was exhorting us to reach for the stars:
    “Guys, we gotta move the metal! Gotta get the metal out of the factories, out of the lots, outta here. And I’m going to show you how.”

    They might as well have been making nails.

  • avatar

    @ bluecon

    You gotta give the guy credit.

    We are suffering through the coldest winter in decades,
    Localized – average temperatures, worldwide, are rising.

    all the ice and more has returned to the Arctic,
    To the contrary – there’s never been as dramatic a reduction of the Arctic ice sheet as that experienced now. People are planning supertanker traffic in the Northwest and Northeast passages.

    the snow cover is at the greatest level ever
    Ask Greenlanders about that one — Bjørn Lomborg shows to variations in the snow cover, but that’s being strongly disputed by more current data.

    and all the GW of the last 100 years has been reversed and he states that GW is a bunch of baloney.
    Really? Reversed?

    Seems to be the only guy willing to state the obvious and without fear of the attack lefty press.

    I’m not swallowing the GW mantra in any uncritical fashion. Have still not seen Gore’s presentation, for instance, but probably because I’ve been keeping on top of this through scientific research, and didn’t need the popularized version.
    That famous left wing institution The National Geographic seems to disagree with your data points above, though — and I find it mystical that you can believe this …

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