We all knew that Bob Lutz wasn’t going to spend his retirement circulating between the golf course and the early bird special, and when Lotus rolled out the most ambitious re-boot of any car company since GM, we should have known Lutz would end up involved somehow. After all, Lotus’s CEO Dany Bahar has bragged at length about making Lotus the “Real Madrid” (think Miami Heat) of the sports car industry… and if there’s one high-profile prima donna in the car industry, it’s Mr Robert Anthony Lutz.
With over $1.2b to play around with, Lotus could certainly afford to hire the Man of Maximum as an advisory board member… and it’s not like Lutz needed to think too hard about the company’s long-term chances of becoming an established competitor with the likes of Porsche and Ferrari. As a GM veteran, Lutz is used to floating along on a wave of money and hype, and he tells the LA Times:
I first saw these cars as just clay models and I am convinced that this is a serious and well-funded plan. I am convinced that this company has the best team in the history of Lotus. This may be the first time they have had it all together.
Except that the Lotus turnaround, which was already widely seen as overly-ambitious and lacking in substance, now seems all the more hypey and suspect. After all, Lotus’s billion-dollar experiment in turning Toyota powertrains into six world-class supercars and a niche, enthusiast brand into the next Ferrari-style branding juggernaut makes Lutz’s Volt gamble look like a sure thing. Especially compared to, say, McLaren’s strategy of taking on Ferrari with a lighter, faster, more focused car. Bob Lutz is widely hailed as a “car guy,” but at this point in his career it seems clear that, more than anything else, he’s a hype guy. And a billion-dollar moonshot is clearly more than he can resist.