By on December 12, 2007

pic5php.jpgFor those of you who haven't yet sniggered, many industry observers are skeptical that Chevrolet electric – gas hybrid Volt will meet its publicly declared 2010 showroom target. So that means that Maximum Bob's AP "news flash"— "Automotive industry icon Robert A. Lutz wants to retire from General Motors Corp. after the company brings a plug-in electric car to market"– is unintentionally humorous. As the report inaccurately (accurately?) points out, "The company has set sometime in 2010 as a loose date to roll out the Volt." In advance of this momentous if Camaro-like announcement of the 75-year-old Car Czar's golden parachute unfurlment, the AP plays it both ways: icon worship and realistic assessment. "Lutz, who was hired in September of 2001 to reinvigorate GM's lackluster product designs, is widely credited with a resurgence in GM vehicles after two disastrous years in which it lost market share and more than $12 billion." And then "Still, GM sales are down 6.1 percent for the first 11 months of the year, with car sales dropping 8 percent and truck sales off 4.8 percent from the same period a year ago." But our favorite bit is this: "'You never know about your health. You never know about the needs of the corporation,' he said in his office at the company's design center. 'You never know what the board wants to do, or Rick wants to transition to a younger team. All of those things are possible.'" If Bob doesn't know what the board wants to do, who does? 

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12 Comments on “Volt Birth Watch 13: Lutz “May” Retire When Volt Appears...”


  • avatar

    It’ll be a shame to see Bob Lutz go. He might not have turned GM around but at least he’s prepared to stand up and be counted which is more than can be said for the other people running car manufacturing companies.

  • avatar

    driving course :

    What do you mean by “stand up and be counted?”

  • avatar
    jaje

    With this announcement does this count as vaportirement?

    Lutz pure and simple is a putz. If by “standing up and being counted” you mean talking out of both sides of his mouth – focusing on concept cars while speaking highly of duds – confusing brands by placing vehicles into their fold that don’t belong, etc – then you are correct. If you think he was a breathe of fresh air – well I don’t know what to say but get outside and get some real fresh air of your own. Anyway Lutz was par the course of the usual ADD Big 2.8 spokesman. He’s just one of the good ole boyz with keys to the executive washroom.

  • avatar
    mikey

    5yrs from now Bob will be considered either a genius or an idiot.Depends on where G.M.ends up.
    Bob L and I have a lot in common.We both work at G.M.I detest plastic cladding so does Bob.I blindly believe GM will turn around,as does Bob.
    Bob knows he is gonna retire with a guaranted pension.Uh oh!I think I found an area where Bob and I differ.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    Mikey, I don’t think you need to wait 5 years to make that determination. Wasn’t Lutz the guy who said, “Hybrids? We don’t need no stinkin’ hybrids!”

    That set GM w-a-a-y back on a program which is selling 300K or so cars/year for Toyota. When (if) the Volt hits the street for customer beta-testing in 2010 (11), Toyota will likely be a full year into the next generation of Prius.

  • avatar
    mikey

    I sorta agree with jaje on this one.Bob did bring something to G.M.Design needed a shot,but he should of stuck to design,not spokesman.
    Bob and many like him are a result of the culture thats at the top.The word arogance come to mind.
    Personaly I’d welcome a massive shake up at the top.But if past practice is any indication,I can,t see it happening.

  • avatar
    jthorner

    Lutz hated Cadillac’s new Art & Science design look and the original CTS only got to market over his objections because he was late to the party. The new look is serving Cadillac well.

    Lutz loves trucks, the bigger the better and the bigger the tires the better. He pushed hard for the expensive redo of the whole truck lineup which has now been on the market for two years. The truth is that GM truck and SUV sales would probably be at about the same level today had they done a refresh instead of ground-up redesigns.

    GTO was a flop. The quick fix importation of a Holden and calling it the GTO was a Lutz brainstorm he pushed through the organization and out the door and it was a business disaster. He should have been fired for that blunder alone, but wait, there’s more!

    Solstice/Sky are 90% complete designs sent to market early. A handful of idiots payed premiums to get the first ones and now they are dead in the water. Conceived and executed during the Lutz era and a complete miss. Dumb da dumb dumb.

    Pontiac ditched it’s traditional names for the stupid G_ naming. Maybe that wasn’t Lutz’s idea, but he should have been able to stop it.

    Lutz was da man when the disastrous nose jobs were done to make the GM minivan “look” like an SUV, and Saturn was given one of these horrors as well. That one is all on Lutz and it was a complete dud.

    Lutz led the complete remake of Pontiac’s lineup, and today they are selling worse than ever. Ditto for Buick.

    GM’s market share and profitability slide has continued unabated during the Lutz years. His Messiah act came up very short. It is very hard to look at GM’s financials and find any positive consequences of Lutz’s reign.

    Buick China is doing well because they are doing their own thing without “help” from Lutz.

    Chevrolet and Cadillac. Everything else is noise. Turn off the noise.

  • avatar
    Blunozer

    “Lutz, who was hired in September of 2001 to reinvigorate GM’s lackluster product designs, is widely credited with a resurgence in GM vehicles”

    WHAT?

    GM had a “resurgance”? When was that?

    The only bright spots in GM’s lineup right now are the Malibu, the Enclave, the CTS, and the ‘Vette (which has always been proof of what GM could do.)

  • avatar

    Nice to see his retirement time line is as cloudy as GM’s corporate turnaround strategy. Dust off that parachute!

  • avatar
    Bunter1

    My estimate has him at 83 for retirement when the Volt hits the market.

    jthorner-nice synopsis. He may be worse than worthless, I don’t think the public will forget his Volt promises. When, not if, they fall short the fallout may make the rap they took (and didn’t deserve) for the EV-1 look like a PR win.
    And this time they will be culpable.

    Saynora,

    Bunter-san

  • avatar
    blautens

    jaje –

    Vaportirement. Now that’s funny.

    Like most things, Lutz is not all good or all bad. I like his desire for making performance vehicles (although I give more credit to someone like John Heinricy for making it work). I’m sure there are other things.

    But there are so many things he said and did that are just baffling…see – there’s another good thing – he could make me laugh.

  • avatar
    Johnson

    Before I say anything, remember you heard it here first. With that said, I predict that Lutz will retire at the same time as the Volt launches. I also predict that the Volt won’t meet the hype and that it will be a dissapointing vehicle that under-delivers. I predict Lutz will retire right around that time to escape accountability for the problems and dissapointment that are bound to arise from the Volt.

    After all, escaping accountability has become a hallmark of GM executives.

    Blunozer:
    and the ‘Vette (which has always been proof of what GM could do.)

    For a long while now I’ve had an issue with people saying the Vette was “proof of what GM is capable of”. Fact is, it’s not.

    Here is some insight: the team that works on the Vette is full of GM’s best and brightest. The team is also full of a lot of race guys. Another thing is that the team stays fairly constant, compared to any other GM vehicle where the development team each generation is always different. Most of the people on the ‘Vette team have never done any other projects, only worked on different generations of the Corvette.

    For all intents and purposes, the Corvette development team might as well be considered a separate organization within GM as operate differently than any other development team within GM.

    The Vette team is an exceptional exception within GM.

    Also, the Vette is considered such a great vehicle only because it has very little direct competition. Sure you can compare it to Ferraris and Porsches, but fact is the Vette is not cross-shopped with those brands. With the coming Nissan GT-R, the Vette (for the first time in a LONG time) gets a direct competitor. The GT-R will directly compete with the Corvette Z06. Then we shall see how good the Corvette is when faced with some real competition.

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