Volt Birth Watch 13: Lutz "May" Retire When Volt Appears

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
volt birth watch 13 lutz may retire when volt appears

For 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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  • Sajeev Mehta Sajeev Mehta on Dec 12, 2007

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

  • Bunter1 Bunter1 on Dec 12, 2007

    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

  • Blautens Blautens on Dec 12, 2007

    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.

  • Johnson Johnson on Dec 12, 2007

    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.