By on February 22, 2008

right-hand-h3-exterior.jpgAfter calling global warming "a crock of shit," GM Car Czar Bob Lutz is using his fastlane blog to defend the remark that launched a thousand blogs. Instead of an apology, Maximum Bob declares himself– and you– an irrelevance. "Never mind what I said, or the context in which I said it. My thoughts on what has or hasn’t been the cause of climate change have nothing to do with the decisions I make to advance the cause of General Motors. My opinions on the subject — like anyone’s — are immaterial. Really." Bob then tells the tree-huggers to stop picking on him. "Instead of simply assailing me for expressing what I think, they should be looking at the big picture. What they should be doing, in earnest, is forming opinions not about me but about GM, and what this company is doing that is — and will continue to be — hugely beneficial to the very causes they so enthusiastically claim to support." I think that's what psychologists call "disassociation." But the best bit is here: "General Motors is dedicated to the removal of cars and trucks from the environmental equation, period. And, believe it or don’t: So am I! It’s the right thing to do, for us, for you and, yes, for the planet. My goal is to take the automotive industry out of the debate entirely." I guess he missed the irony of "taking GM out" of the equation. 

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27 Comments on “GM Car Czar Bob Lutz: “Never Mind What I Said”...”


  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    It doesn’t matter what I think. What matters is what YOU think. And you should think exactly what I tell you to think.

    That is all.

  • avatar
    KatiePuckrik

    Good old Bob! The UK has Prince Philip* for gaffes and you’ve got Bob Lutz! The fact is, Bob doesn’t really have that difficult a job in the greater scheme of things. Make cars which people want to buy. Don’t get involved in politics or expressing opinions. GM has a press office for that, let them do their job and you do yours.

    Simple, really…..

    * = Some of Prince Philip’s gaffes:

    Speaking to a driving instructor in Scotland, he asked: “How do you keep the natives off the booze long enough to get them through the test?”
    When visiting China in 1986, he told a group of British students, “If you stay here much longer, you’ll all be slitty-eyed”.
    After accepting a gift from a Kenyan citizen he replied, “You are a woman, aren’t you?”
    “If it has four legs and is not a chair, has wings and is not an aeroplane, or swims and is not a submarine, the Cantonese will eat it.” (1986)
    In 1966 he remarked that “British women can’t cook.”
    To a British student in Papua New Guinea: “You managed not to get eaten then?”

  • avatar

    As I predicted:

    # Stein X Leikanger :
    February 12th, 2008 at 6:57 pm

    Oh, Bob Lutz will be eating those words in a few days, no reason to worry.

    ===

    Though we can just get out the pop-corn and soda for his next statement clarifying what he actually meant to say, which is going to be diametrically opposite to what he said.

  • avatar
    NickR

    Never mind what I said

    I don’t Bob, believe me, I don’t.

  • avatar
    mel23

    Imagine what it’s like to work for this character.

  • avatar
    foolish

    “My goal is to take the automotive industry out of the debate entirely.”

    He’s not planning to improve the industry’s impact on the environment, he’s hoping to distract people away from talking about it!

  • avatar
    crackers

    Poor Bob,

    I am willing to cut people like him some slack. In some ways I find him refreshing. Rightly or wrongly, he speaks his mind without having a team of PR specialists molding his message into meaningless mumbo like other business leaders and politicians. Our society has hoards of journalists waiting around like a pack of jackals for somebody of note to say something worth ripping apart in a feeding frenzy.

  • avatar
    geeber

    This is a classic case of not reigning in a loose cannon…by all accounts, Bob Lutz HAS made real progress in revamping GM’s vehicle development process.

    GM’s new vehicles ARE quantum leaps over their replacements, even if they don’t necessarily send the competition scurrying for cover (which should send a shudder through every poster as we ponder what GM’s latest releases would be like if he weren’t there).

    GM needs to keep him focused on improving internal processes and procedures…he should not be making these statements to the press or on his blog.

    Note that Alan Mullaly was hired to do essentially the same thing at Ford, but he manages to keep his mouth shut…which is good, as this is not a time when GM, Ford and Chrysler should go around painting big fat targets on their corporate backs. The companies need to buckle down and get the job done.

  • avatar
    tdoyle

    I don’t believe in Bob Nutz and I don’t believe in GM. That’s why I drive a Ford. Lesser of two evils? I dunno.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    Why does Wagoner keep this guy on?

    From Maximum Bob’s Fastlane blog entry:

    “The Chevrolet Volt program is occurring under my personal watch.”

    Leaving aside how out of touch he is with the actual progress on the vehicle, he’s certainly the public face of the Volt. ANYTHING he says will be evaluated in light of the Volt program. Doesn’t he realize this?

    And it’s the greenies who think Global Warming is both serious AND man-mande who want CO2-free vehicles… are they going to want a Volt for $40K after he jabs ’em in the eye?

  • avatar
    N85523

    I more or less agree with Lutz on climate change, and I’m glad somebody up top in a major company is speaking about it, but he could sure do so with a lot more tact. I also don’t particularly like how he talks down to his readers.

  • avatar
    TexasAg03

    I more or less agree with Lutz on climate change, and I’m glad somebody up top in a major company is speaking about it, but he could sure do so with a lot more tact. I also don’t particularly like how he talks down to his readers.

    I second that post.

    Personal transportation contributes a relatively small amount of pollution. Even if man made global warming theories are correct, automobiles are a small part of the problem.

  • avatar
    geeber

    TexasAg03: Personal transportation contributes a relatively small amount of pollution. Even if man made global warming theories are correct, automobiles are a small part of the problem.

    I’m not inclined to disagree, but the real problem is that other countries are joining the automobile revolution, while oil supplies are not keeping up with the growth in demand.

    Any company that relies on V-8 powered trucks and SUVs for its bread-and-butter is in trouble, manmade global warming or no manmade global warming.

    Gas is over $3 a gallon again around here…do you really think we will be looking at a Tahoe or Silverado for our next vehicle? And my wife and I are not exactly “greenies.”

  • avatar

    @TexasAg03

    Hmmm – where do you get your information?

    Here’s a nifty chart showing you what the transportation portion is of total US oil consumption, from 1973-2003.

    Of the 2003 daily serving of 19.7 million barrels, 13.1 million went to transportation – 66%.
    http://www.eurotrib.com/files/3/051025_US_oil_consumption_by_sector_1973_2003.jpg

  • avatar
    jkross22

    We do not brainwash, we do not brainwash, repeat after me: we do not brainwash.

  • avatar
    geeber

    Stein X Leikanger: Hmmm – where do you get your information?

    Here’s a nifty chart showing you what the transportation portion is of total US oil consumption, from 1973-2003.

    Of the 2003 daily serving of 19.7 million barrels, 13.1 million went to transportation – 66%.

    You are talking about oil consumption. TexasAg03 is talking about carbon dioxide emissions. The two are not necessarily the same thing.

  • avatar

    Please – there’s nothing happening in IC engines that is reducing the amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere when you draw energy from gasoline. Catalytic converters can do a variety of miracles, but not that.
    A gallon of gasoline weighs 6.3 pounds and creates 20 pounds of CO2 when it is consumed in an engine. Each carbon atom combines with two oxygen atoms (which are heavier) and presto!

  • avatar

    “General Motors is dedicated to the removal of cars and trucks from the environmental equation, period”

    Well at least their doing a good job of removing GM’s cars and trucks from most people’s debate over which car to buy.

  • avatar
    Brendan

    Don’t worry, the consumers will remove GM from the equation. Most already have.

    And Bob, it DOES matter what you say and think because your decisions will affect millions of customers.

  • avatar
    TexasAg03

    Of the 2003 daily serving of 19.7 million barrels, 13.1 million went to transportation – 66%.

    If you read my post, I said PERSONAL transportation, which is only a portion of the transportation in the statistic you quoted. Using your statistic, personal transportation accounts for 43% of the transportation total.

    This means that about 28% of the total oil consumption went to personal transportation.

    According to this site,

    http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/downloads06/07Trends.pdf

    transportation accounts for about 25-30% of CO2 emissions, with 63% of that from cars and light trucks. So, personal transportation accounts for about 16-19% of CO2 emissions.

  • avatar
    geeber

    Stein X Leikanger: Please – there’s nothing happening in IC engines that is reducing the amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere when you draw energy from gasoline. Catalytic converters can do a variety of miracles, but not that.
    A gallon of gasoline weighs 6.3 pounds and creates 20 pounds of CO2 when it is consumed in an engine. Each carbon atom combines with two oxygen atoms (which are heavier) and presto!

    The biggest source of carbon dioxide emissions is not from personal trucks and cars, but from…electrical power plants, even though, in your own words, “the 2003 daily serving of 19.7 million barrels, 13.1 million went to transportation – 66%.”

    Over 41 percent of all carbon dioxide emissions in the United States comes from electrical power plants (the world figure is 40 percent).

    But I guess picketing the local power plant isn’t quite as glamorous, and someone might mention that – GASP! – nuclear power does not generate any greenhouse gases.

    • 0 avatar
      2ronnies1cup

      “nuclear power does not generate any greenhouse gases”

      Apart from those produced from mining, refining and transporting uranium fuel, and then transporting and reprocessing or disposing of the waste products (how’s that technology coming along, BTW).

      And the fact that if nuclear takes off as a power base generation model, the price of uranium ore on the world market will go stratospheric. And much of that ore is found in politically rather unstable areas of the world.

      Look forward to plenty of ‘asymmetric warfare’ in Central Africa rather than the mideast if nuclear is what you back for power production.

      Looking on the bright side, your grandkids might learn to speak Swahili whilst they’re serving over there.

  • avatar

    Motor gasoline consumption accounted for 45 percent of U.S. daily petroleum consumption, nearly 9 MM bpd, almost all of which was used in autos and light trucks. Distillate fuel oil was the second-most consumed oil product at almost 3.8 MM bpd (19 percent of consumption), and most was used as diesel fuel for
    medium and heavy trucks.

    Nearly 50% of the total, not 28%. And the numbers haven’t actually gotten better since 2003.
    I’m quoting the Hirsch Report, by the way, which takes a very level headed view of this.

  • avatar
    geeber

    The disconnect is that you are limiting your view to oil. Oil is not the only fossil fuel.

    That is why carbon dioxide emissions by a country or region and oil use by a country are not necessarily the same thing, or even necessarily related.

    Combustion of natural gas and coal also results in carbon dioxide emissions – it’s just not generated by transportation (which would include private motor vehicles). These fuels are still heavily used in the generation of electricity.

    If you are concerned about carbon dioxide emissions, then you can’t just look at oil consumption – you have to look at the consumption of ALL fossil fuels.

    The generation of electricity is the largest source of carbon dioxide emissions for both the U.S. and the world as a whole. In the U.S., the carbon dioxide emissions generated by the production of electricity are more than double that generated by private cars and trucks.

  • avatar
    TexasAg03

    Nearly 50% of the total, not 28%. And the numbers haven’t actually gotten better since 2003.
    I’m quoting the Hirsch Report, by the way, which takes a very level headed view of this.

    That’s the problem; there doesn’t seem to be a consensus on the exact number. It still indicates there are ways, other than automobile related, to curb oil consumption.

    However, I will cede that argument, since my original comment was dealing with pollution, particularly CO2 emissions.

    I think designing more economical, environmentally friendly vehicles is a good thing; I just don’t think the alarmist attitude some people have is necessary.

  • avatar

    I don’t know whether alarmist is the right description. The oil price having quadrupled in fairly short time, while “serious” prognoses had it going down to 25 dollars, may be cause for a slight touch of concern – particularly if you have OK’d vehicles on the basis of such farsighted prognostications. (Merril Lynch).

    And I agree, the numbers aren’t set in stone – but we’re not really helping with the kinds of cars we drive (and I’ve been one of the truly serious sinners, driving hogs for years. Just never sat down to really think it through back then.)

    Lutz is off in space, though, in his own very particular place. Must be terrible actually, for him, to see what his programs have done to GM.

  • avatar
    kjc117

    IMO, Lutz is a “crock of shit”.

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