TTAC's first annual Bob Lutz Award is given to the automotive executive who's made the most outrageous, politically incorrect or just plain dumb public pronouncements. When it comes to providing us with that special blend of hubris, tunnel vision and cognitive dissonance, nobody does it better than Robert A. "Bob" Lutz. And so, Maximum Bob gets the nod. Yes, there were other suits who made Lutz-worthy statements. But Maximum Bob scored extra points for volume and consistency. Hardly a day goes by that MB doesn't utter some bon mots that leave us shaking our heads. We proudly present a representative sample…
Bob Lutz on the Environment
"Global warming is a total crock of shit."
"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."
Bob Lutz on Fuel Economy
"Everybody thinks high gas prices hurt sport utility sales. In fact they don't. Rich people don't care."
"What obviously surprised us is gasoline rising from $1.50 to $3 a gallon."
"You can say in the future we downsize, and the Chevy HHR becomes the new Suburban. Now, what do you do when you want to tow a horse trailer? Work with miniature horses?"
Bob Lutz on Branding
"Buick and Pontiac are both damaged brands that have suffered from years of harvesting with very little reinvestment."
"…then we would have to take a look at a phase-out. I hope we wouldn't have to do that."
"Everyone always says that I was sort of implying we were going to cut Buick and Pontiac. I never said 'irrevocably damaged' or 'irreparably damaged" or 'terminally damaged.'"
Bob Lutz on Alternative Technologies.
"[Hybrid cars] make no economic sense."
"For us to go out with a half-baked system just to get a few months out, I don't think would be prudent."
Sitting next to massive V-16 engine on display in his office: "I believe strongly that this country has to get off oil. The electrification of the automobile is inevitable."
"This is like JFK's call for the moon shot. I want to stick around to see the Volt come to market. Then I'll pack it in around 80."
Talking about when they'll have the first Volt prototype on the road: "Let's wait for the Easter Bunny. Somebody's going to have egg on their face. And I don't like having egg on my face."
"[The Volt's price] might get there on the second generation, and they say if they had a lot more time they might be able to cost-optimize it [but] I don't want to wait for cost optimization. I'd rather come out in 2010, and if it costs closer to 40 than 30, well, that's too bad."
"They put a bunch of bacteria in there that basically just eat and poop, eat and poop [ethanol]."
"Instead of just copying that same stupid message [about GM killing the electric car] that I have received at least one thousand times in identical form (don't you folks have any creative drive?), why didn't you use your energy to research GM's announced major effort on the range-extended Chevrolet 'Volt' EV, as well as our announcement of a plug-in hybrid version of the upcoming Saturn 'Vue?' Some recognition of how much and how fast we are moving in these areas would be a lot more motivating than bombarding us with that hopelessly-outdated standard letter."
Bob Lutz on The Industry/GM
"Being able to 'think outside the box' presupposes you were able to think in it."
"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."
"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."
"I don't think about [global leadership]. And the answer would be the same whether today's numbers said General Motors is Number One, or Number Two…or tied!"
"The threat of [GM's] bankruptcy is absolutely out of the question."
"I'd say we're at the end of the beginning."
Bob Lutz on Bob Lutz
When asked to rate his performance though GM's market share slide and billions of losses: "I would give myself a B+ or an A-. I feel good about that because it means at some point I can pack it in and as long as Rick's around, nothing will change."
Amen to that! And congratulations to Bob Lutz for winning The Truth About Cars' First Annual Bob Lutz Award. We look forward to chronicling Maximum Bob's wit and wisdom through '08. We're also keeping our editorial radar on a wide sweep, so don't get to thinking next year's award is a foregone conclusion. Not in this industry it ain't.