By on August 29, 2011

Whether agree that automotive PR needs to take more risks or you think it takes more than enough risks already, we can all enjoy the outlandish quotes that do emanate from industry executives in spite of the protective PR-professional bubble that surrounds them. And though TTAC has only had the institutional follow-through to hold a single “Lutzie Award” in the past, I figured that next week (when I’ll be presenting a flood of content based on my extended rap session with Maximum Bob) would be the perfect opportunity to bring them back. And in order to do so, we need you, our readers, to make the nominations. So fire up the search engine of your choice, and hit the jump for nominating criteria and the rules of this year’s awards.

The basic premise of the Lutzie awards is simple, and has not changed since this site’s founder first laid them down:

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.

Nominations will stay open through Friday of this week, and then TTAC’s editors will narrow the list down to our ten favorites. On Wednesday of next week (technology permitting), we’ll announce our official ballot and open voting for 48 hours. We will then announce our winner with great pomp and circumstance, bringing glory to the waywardly loudmouthed winning executive. One final rule: because it’s been a long time since we’ve held these awards, nominated quotes can come from any time between 1/1/10 and 8/31/11. Good luck to all, and may the most outrageous quote win!

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22 Comments on “Your Nominations Please: Announcing The 2010-2011 Lutzie Awards For Outrageous Auto Exec Quotes...”


  • avatar

    Dan Akerson:

    To Bloomberg Businessweek:

    “I’m not a car guy. Nor should the CEO be worried about rear axle ratios or the next transmission.”

    Putting aside that it’s not a good idea to brag about your ignorance, considering that CVTs, 9 speed auto gearboxes, 7 speed manuals, and Dual Clutch units are proliferating, I think the CEO of a car company should be well versed as to what the competition is doing and what his own company has in the pipeline concerning transmissions.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Damn, I was about to say – Anything said by Dan Akerson that’s counterfactual to reality. But that would be EVERYTHING said by Lt. Dan.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      I don`t totally agree – the head of engineering should know about rear axle rations but the CEO? I work in Pharmaceutical R&D, our CEO who is pretty good is from the sales side with an economics degree. He doesn`t know about covalent bonds and Chemistry. He doesn`t need to. His role (and Akerson’s) is to identify issues, solve them with the relevant staff, represent the company to investors and customers. He doesn`t need to know huge amounts about R&D, IT and other specialised areas. He needs to be able to learn and be briefed as needed.

      Edit – I saw a similar comment below with Ronnie’s reply. I see the troublesome part of the quote is “the next transmission”. I am sure he is aware, as we are, that 7,8 and 9 gear transmissions are coming out. His engineering staff and sales staff should be able to keep him informed. Hell he could read TTAC and learn.

      • 0 avatar
        Brobdingnagian

        One problem with business in America is how far leadership is removed from the details of the business. I’ve painfully encountered (endured) this in my business (financial.) To me, it’s obvious that American business leaders, right down to middle managers, are clueless to what they are actually making/selling/servicing…you name it. They live and profit by a now generation old biz school philosophy that you can quantify anything and manage everything by the same, abstract book. It’s pure BS, but they are too stupid to know it.

        So, my point is: you miss the point. I guess you don’t get it either. Perhaps you are some kind of corporate manager yourself.

  • avatar
    Birddog

    Another Akerson-ism regarding Cadillac’s future offerings to DetN.

    “the cars will be “competitive,” but they’re not going to blow the doors off.”

    Yeah Dan, plenty of car companies became the “Standard Of The World” just by being “competitive” and sitting in the middle of the pack.

    Here’s another golden nugget from the world according to Dan..

    “You know what I’d rather have them do – this will make my Republican friends puke – as gas is going to go down here now, we ought to just slap a 50-cent or a dollar tax on a gallon of gas,”

    Oddly a few months prior he had this to say about $4.50/gallon gas.

    “you would probably see people stop visiting our showrooms.”

    Well Danny, which is it?

    This guy has to win!

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      The award is for a disconnect with reality. Is it really a disconnect to say the cars (which we haven`t seen/driven) are competitive but won`t blow the doors off. It is probably an accurate statement. Should he have said it, probably not. But it wasn`t disconnected from reality. Saying something like “the Aveo is world class and wonderful” would show a disconnect!

    • 0 avatar
      CamaroKid

      You have my vote too… If we are looking for examples of High Risk PR to get all excited about … Having your CEO say that your next all new Cadillac is a big pile of “Meh” has to be right up there. Almost as good has the head of GM Design saying that the car “Generates mixed feelings”

      At least they didn’t say that Pontiac is “damaged goods” That edgy PR was a HUGE success!

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    I am paying shyster rates. We had no choice… I am going to pay the shyster loans. – Sergio Marchionne

    I personnally don’t think it was meant the way it was portrayed by some, but it still sounds horrible.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    “I’m not a car guy. Nor should the CEO be worried about rear axle ratios or the next transmission”

    I’m not an Akerson fan but he is dead nuts on with that statement. A CEO in a company like GM needs to be at the 40,000′ level doing stategic planning. Anyone who thinks he needs to worry about or understand rear axle gear ratios has no or little real world practical business experience. Find a different comment…LOL

    • 0 avatar

      I’ll agree with your point about the gear ratio thing, but my point was about how important transmissions have become over the past decade, and if a car CEO doesn’t care to keep current in a technology that has a major impact on his business he won’t be able to make good strategic decisions. For example, right now Ford and VW and a few other companies have embraced dual clutch transmissions – Ford with some level of consumer discomfort from customers that haven’t been properly educated to know that a DCT doesn’t act like a conventional automatic. On the slushbox side of things there are now 8 and 9 speed transmissions. I think the most speeds that Hydramatic makes is 6. Deciding whether to develop (or buy) and offer DCTs, and deciding whether Hydramatic will develop 7, 8 and 9 speed automatics, I would argue, are indeed strategic decisions.

      Does he need to know how a DCT works or whether 8 or 9 speeds is ideal? No, but he should at least have a clue about what’s going on in the gearbox world, not publicly disclaim interest.

      How can I believe Akerson if he tells me that GM has the best technology when he’s already told me that he’s not well informed enough on the subject?

      Maybe it’s not fair because he came up through Boeing designing cockpits, but Alan Mullaly has a good handle on the My Ford Touch / Sync system. That kind of hands on knowledge hasn’t hurt Ford.

      Strategy relies on accurate information, not studied ignorance.

  • avatar
    PintoFan

    “So I wanted to insure that the new Camry is the best Camry ever. We have listened to our customers, and done all we can to exceed your expectations!” -Akio Toyoda, CEO of Toyota.

    Oh Akio, I feel so betrayed… well, not really, but your shameless flogging of this year’s most underwhelming new car deserves special mention.

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    “Incentives brought forward buying in a very dramatic fashion in 2009, 2010, and now we are seeing a lack of pent-up demand.”

    “He didn’t waste his potential, but exceeded it.”

  • avatar
    Britspeak

    I nominate Dany Bahar, Group Lotus CEO.

    He has all the brilliant vision that comes with not being a car guy, and has the good sense to never question his beliefs, or uh, live in reality.

    Take, for instance, this interview in Automobile Magazine with Jamie Kitman: http://www.automobilemag.com/features/news/1103_lotus_ceo_dany_bahar_interview/index.html

    My favorite is the part where he states that: All of the cars that made Lotus famous, failed.

    Or in a WSJ article where he maps out Lotus’s strategy to match Porsche’s model range (not on volume, mind) but just on availability of models. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704364004576132232439237242.html

    Good then, I see that Lotus is in fine hands.

  • avatar

    I’ll add a few noms of my own to help prime the pump:

    Mark Reuss: “I’m not sure if I’d put the Leaf in the hands of my three kids. Say, what if they can’t charge it? What if they get to school and can’t charge it? The Leaf is a single-purpose car.”

    I think that line will bite him when GM inevitably releases a pure EV. Speaking of which…

    Elon Musk: “We will not stop until every car on the road is electric.”

    Elon’s just lucky that the most out-of-touch thing he’s ever said (that I can think of) just barely falls outside the rules of this contest.

    There’s plenty more in our QOTD archives…

    • 0 avatar

      Wait, wait, there’s one more Musk nom that I just can’t resist:

      “Oh, one other thing, I think its maybe helpful to say what has been my track record in value creation – these are four of the companies Ive been associated with – its worth noting that every financing round in every company has been an up round, doesn’t matter if the market has gone up or the market has gone down, the squiggly line is the market, and the valuations are as you can see somewhat market independent, and I expect that to be the same for Tesla, or to continue to be the same with Tesla”

  • avatar

    I think there has never, ever been a better quote than “won’t blow the doors off”.

  • avatar
    Glenn Mercer

    No way this should win, but I gotta throw it in because there are too many Akerson entries, and because Farley’s F-bombs re GM are not suitable for the public airwaves. Or fiber optic waves, whatever. Also, I like auto exec “trademark” trivia (e.g. Iacocca’s cigars, Mark Fields’s hair, Lutz’s (unlit) cigars, Schrempp’s … um… secretary thrown over his shoulder…?). Thus, the Sergio sweater quote: “I buy them in the dozens. I don’t sleep very much so I buy them on the Internet. They come in all the time.” The mental image of this Captain of Industry trolling Ebay or Amazon for discount sweaters, from the company jet 35,000 feet over some ocean… nice. Also, I am not sure about the linkage between insomnia and sweater-buying…

  • avatar

    the ceo of volkwagen usa who said they wouldn’t bring the scirocco into the usa because it would cannibalize sales of the gti. heh! so instead i’ll get an rx-8 …..

  • avatar
    Nufse

    Surely Victor Müller of SAAB must be a candidate, or even get his own category? “Money is coming, money is coming, money is coming…………” ad inf.!


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