Tag: Lutz

By on August 3, 2012

White House spokesman Dan Pfeiffer apologized to WaPo and Fox News commentator Charles Krauthammer for having “overshot the runway.” Pfeifer had accused Krauthammer of falsely claiming that a bust of former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill had been removed from the White House and sent back to the British Embassy. In a blog post on the White House Blog (yes, the White House blogs too) Pfeiffer produced a smoking gun: A Churchill bust that was still at the White House.  The trouble was there had been two busts. Now there is only one.  (See, and I would have sworn Bill Clinton took all available busts when he vacated the White House.)

What do busts have to do with cars? (Read More…)

By on April 2, 2012

Since the early days of the Volt, the folks at GM loved to compare the car to putting a man on the moon. That analogy wasn’t without its problems. The moon program did cost more than three times its original budget of $7 billion, all it produced was a few rocks, and it ran out of money before it could get going in earnest. 40 years after Eugene Cernan and Apollo 17, the moon has remained untouched by human feet. But what the heck, GM loves the symbolism. To death. (Read More…)

By on April 23, 2011

An earlier report, stating that Bob Lutz would be returning to GM as a consultant was true… but so was the news that Treasury opposed GM’s plans to pay its longtime executive, who retired a little over a year ago. Speaking to the press at the New York Auto Show, Maximum Bob confirms that he is on the board of Lotus, and revealed that he is doing “pro-bono” work as a consultant for GM’s new product development boss, Mary Barra. According to Automotive News [sub], the prospect of Lutz returning as a GM consultant (ala Fritz Henderson) caused such a stir at Treasury, that he decided to work informally at GM, without pay. Given that Lutz’s heavily-hyped products have yet to return GM to steady retail market share growth, perhaps GM is finally paying him what he’s worth?

By on February 15, 2011


The Daily Beast reports:

As General Motors Co. gets closer to emerging from government oversight, the automaker is trying to hire Bob Lutz, its former chief of vehicle development, as a consultant…
The U.S. Treasury has opposed Lutz’s appointment on the grounds that, since he left the company last May, paying him so close to his retirement could look like a sweetheart payout. The government could soften its opposition in three months, once a year has passed since Lutz’s retirement.

Could it be true? Could the man credited with all of GM’s success and none of its failures really be coming back for more? More to the point, as a consultant? Bob’s current gigs are advising an electric scooter company and the Lotus “revival”… does GM really want to put itself in that company? Oh, who are we kidding? We want Lutz back. The industry just seems so damn boring without him…

By on April 1, 2010


As many of you have probably figured out by now, I’m a firm atheist. You die, you become worm food, and your relatives divide up your estate. Life goes on. However, when I was learning religious education at school, I was told about the many different Gods on offer. We have God, Allah, Buddha (not really a god, but you get the gist), Zeus, Apollo, Thor and loads of others. But at no point did my teacher mention a Japanese car company. Bob Lutz just did. (Read More…)

By on February 15, 2010


Everyone in every business everywhere thinks they are at least somewhat underpaid, and for most, there’s a certain amount of truth to the sentiment. But then, most Americans don’t have jobs that allow them to destroy billions of dollars in value over the course of their careers. Nor does the Detroit News give most of us a forum to whine about our perceived underpayment. Having helped lead GM into bankruptcy and bailout (with thousands of Americans losing their jobs along the way), Bob Lutz still isn’t happy about executive pay limits at GM, and he clearly has no compunction about airing his grievances to the DetN.

What you see is what you get, and it ain’t a lot. All I know is, right now, we are given our responsibility, and given the rigors of the job and demands and the accountability, I would say we are being paid way, way, way below market. Right now, that isn’t a problem, but over time, clearly a company that undercompensates senior executives is going to have a retention or recruiting problem

(Read More…)

By on December 17, 2009

The first time we posted the video for They Might Be Giants’ song “Electric Car,” TTAC commentator rollosrevenge noted:

I love EVs and am pretty fond of They Might be Giants, but that was the one of the most annoying songs accompanied by the one of the stupidest music videos ever. It belongs as the theme song/video for the Volt.

And guess what? If Bob “Chrome” Lutz had his way, it could have been.

(Read More…)

By on December 7, 2009

Courtesy of GM-Volt.com, here’s GM’s first post-bankruptcy Volt jingle! And arguably a slight improvement over last May’s jingle. But if you think Big Ed Whitacre will stop all the song-and-dance frivolity, think again. “He will not try to run the programs,” Bob Lutz sneers at GM-Volt. “He knows almost nothing about the business. Nobody will diminish our focus on electrification.” As long as Whitacre kills the Volt-related musical development program, we’ll be happy.

By on November 8, 2009

Hell, no, we won’t go. Picture courtesy blog.cleveland.com

When GM’s Fritz Henderson called Magna chief Siegfried Wolf and told him that GM had an irreversible case of seller’s remorse, Wolf’s flabbergasted counter was: “Are you joking?” Fritz told him he’s dead serious. Opel will stay with GM. Now, all Wolf has left for GM is unsolicited advice: Give more freedom to Opel and tread carefully with the brand and the unions. “GM must now smooth things out and win back trust. That requires a lot of sensitivity and tact,” Wolf told the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag (via Reuters).

It doesn’t look like GM will be heeding the advice. New Opel Chairman Bob Lutz and new GM-E chief Nick Reilly are known for the sensitivity and tact of a Sherman tank. Supposedly, both are here on a temporary basis only until new outside managers are found. It could be a long search, if it is a real one at all.

On Monday, Fitz Henderson will come to Germany and try to smooth over things with the workers, Opel’s worker’s council chief Klaus Franz told German media. It will be a tough talk.
(Read More…)

By on October 30, 2009

Don't Panic!

With apologies to Douglas Adams:

Stress and nervous tension are now serious social problems in all parts of the Galaxy, and it is in order that this situation should not in any way be exacerbated that the following facts will now be revealed in advance.

(Read More…)

By on October 29, 2009

Via Cadillac’s Twitter Feed:

John Heinricy (Cadillac test driver)- Cadillac CTS-V: Top Lap: 2:46:560

Aaron Link (Cadillac development engineer)- Cadillac CTS-V: Top Lap: 2:48:902

Brian Redman- CTS-V: Top Lap: 2:49:596

Michael Cooper (Who is this guy?)- BMW M3: Top Lap: 2:50:424

Jack Baruth- Cadillac CTS-V (TTAC): Top Lap: 2:51:153

Lawrence Ulrich- CTS-V (New York Times): Top Lap: 2:53:157

Bob Lutz- Cadillac CTS-V (VP of Marketing, GM): Top Lap: 2:56:321

Michael Mainwald (carguydad.com)- BMW M5: Top Lap: 3:05:398

Wes Siler- Mitsubishi Evo X (Jalopnik): Top Lap: 3:08:126

Chris Fairman- CTS-V: Top Lap: 3:14:292

Archan Basu- Jaguar XF: Top Lap: 3:15:670

Tom Loder- Audi RS4: Top Lap:  3:15:702

It’s official: TTAC’s top driver has beaten Bob Lutz! Check back tomorrow for Jack’s on-the-ground take on the weirdness that was.

By on September 22, 2009

Side effects may include dry mouth, high retail price, hallucinations... (courtesy:bdblog.com)

Ever since Bob Lutz walked down from Mt. Lithium with the Volt’s Ten Specifications, the most potentially expensive and critical one was that the battery pack would have a ten year/100k mile warranty. No longer. Gm-volt.com reports that in a survey of potential Volt buyers, a number of Volt parameters were spelled out, in order to gauge how charged up they (still) are. The battery is described as having an eight year/100,000 mile warranty. That’s really going to help the economics, especially in light of a related announcement where the Father of the Volt preaches: “The Volt technology is very exciting, but costs will have to come down before it can become generalized . . . and US fuel prices will have to rise to world levels, meaning $5 or $6 per gallon.” Exciting indeed, despite being unprofitable for its maker, and un-economical for its buyers. One last detail: the survey also calls out the Volt’s price at “$32,000 to $38,000, after a $7,500 tax credit ($39,500–$45,500 MSRP).

By on February 9, 2009

Bob Lutz was not the worst thing to happen to General Motors. He was the second worst thing after CEO Rick Wagoner. Lutz’ legacy will not be the critically acclaimed vehicles attached to his name: the Cadillac CTS, Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Malibu or Pontiac G8. It will be the fact that GM’s vice chairman of global product development annihilated whatever remained of GM’s brand-related equity. Bob Lutz ran General Motors into the ground.

Lutz’ career at GM proves the old adage that if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. Oh hell, Lutz was the problem. Within weeks of Lutz’ elevation to Car Czar, TTAC sounded the alarm. In one of his earliest interviews, a reporter asked Lutz about Volkswagen’s prospects. Astoundingly, GM’s Car Czar couldn’t name more than three of VW’s brands.

While you might expect the identity of the German automakers’ divisions to catch out a pistonhead at a pub quiz, Lutz was the newly-appointed head of development for the world’s largest automaker. If Bob Lutz didn’t have mental access to this type of competitive information, how could he possibly craft a coherent strategy for GM?

Lutz apologists flew to his defense. This quickly became a habitual practice. In subsequent years, the automotive media focused its attention on Lutz’ mal mots: his allegedly recidivist views on the auto industry’s place within society. The so-called “crock of shit” problem was actually thinly-disguised admiration.

The press painted Lutz as the straight-talking, cigar-chomping representative of an earlier time, a time when V8 engines—and GM—ruled the earth. And they loved him for it. What the media missed: how often Lutz’ opinions about the car business were ill-informed, misguided and just plain wrong.

This is the hugely compensated automotive executive that today called the Pontiac GTO “my proudest accomplishment.” After all, “That’s the car that got us convinced that we could use the global product development scheme. Up until then, no one had tried anything like that.”

Maximum Bob is, once again, flat out wrong; the “world car” idea is as old the auto industry itself. Worse: the Australian-built GTO was an abject failure. The GTO lost GM tens of millions of dollars, squandered precious development resources and drove yet another Lutz-shaped nail into Pontiac’s coffin.

You could, however, make the case that the GTO was the quintessential Lutz-mobile: a romantic expression of his personal taste that fell flat on its face. A product that Lutz quickly abandoned in search of . . . the next big thing. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. For models within brands AND the brands themselves.

Lutz never developed anything remotely resembling a coherent, focused and determined product development strategy. Automotive Attention Deficiency Disorder characterized Lutz’ tenure. Everywhere you looked, GM under Lutz was a company typified by frenetic indecisiveness. The rear wheel-drive Zeta platform program was on-again, off-again no less than seven times.

In 2005, Lutz described Buick and Pontiac as damaged brands. The media thought it a “come to Jesus moment,” withdrawn to serve GM’s PC PR needs. But it was Lutz himself who had damaged the brands. And it was Lutz who continued to kick the brands when they were down. Lutz was guilty of sins of commission (a staggering stream of badge engineered mediocrity) and omission (a singular failure to define a profitable brand remit for ANY of GM’s divisions).

Lutz’ epic incompetence was matched only by his swagger and bravado. His enablers ate it up, adding to Maximum Bob’s egomaniacal ignorance. The fact that the media perpetuated Maximum Bob’s nickname without irony—a moniker I invented in a moment of disgust—shows you the kind of bubble that protected and extended Lutz’s befuddled sphere of influence.

Although, saying that, one wonders how much power Bob Lutz actually held within the loony labyrinth of backstabbing RenCen bureaucrats that is General Motors. Did Lutz argue for the Chevy Traverse or just let it happen? Did the Powers That Be appease Lutz with his pet projects (e.g., the Pontiac Solstice) so they could do whatever they wanted to maintain the dysfunctional status quo upon which they depended?

There is no question in my mind that Bob Lutz’ resignation was motivated by personal greed. Let’s not forget Lutz’ reply to the [first] suggestion that he take a haircut to show his devotion to the team: “I already gave at the office.” By stepping aside now, the man who scoffed at the question “Is your pension bankruptcy proof?” is making damn well sure it is.

Like so many failed American executives, Lutz will not personally suffer for having ruined the livelihoods of tens of thousands of his underlings. He will sleep well, eat well, travel luxuriously and, worst of all, continue to receive the respect of his peers. He doesn’t deserve any of it, as history will one day decide.

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