Lutz: "If Congress Wants a Sacrifice, It Should Be Me"

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
lutz if congress wants a sacrifice it should be me

As the madness swirled last week, a certain Robert Lutz was being kept well away from the PR-charged atmosphere in DC. But driving Volt/Cruze mules around in circles (instead of to the capitol) isn’t what gets you “Maximum” for a nickname. And with calls for Rick Wagoner to step down busting out all over, reporters are falling over themselves to put a quarter in the Bob Lutz quote machine. Yesterday we were treated to Lutz’s opinion that Wagoner is the “best CEO he’s worked for,” and today there’s even more hilarity in the Detroit Free Press. “These are somber, serious economic times — but it’s still hard to hang up from a 10-minute phone chat with Bob Lutz without chuckling,” writes Freep columnist Tom Walsh. And boy, he isn’t kidding. “If Congress wants a sacrifice, it should be me,” Lutz told Walsh. “I’m older and I’ve made politically incorrect remarks about global warming, so it should be me.” Unfortunately, Lutz didn’t spend the whole interview doing tongue-in-cheek corporate samurai shtick.

Wagoner initiated a review of Saturn before congress even asked for a viability plan, reveals Lutz. “We had to reassess. There’s simply not enough money to support all the brands,” says Bob in one of his few non-Lutzie-worthy quotes. Wagoner also unified purchasing into a single office, and is a “builder” not a “building occupier,” according to his enthusiastic underling. But once again, a single Wagoner decision figures centrally in Lutz’s decision to rally round the RenCen: the decision to hire Lutz himself. “Against the advice of a lot of people,” says Lutz, “Rick made an unconventional and bold move to hire me, at age 70, to come in a run product development. You talk about bold moves — that certainly was one.” Don’t you mean an “American Revolution,” Bob? Seriously, let’s polish up that act and take it on the road.

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  • Dean Dean on Dec 09, 2008

    Further on the Solstice theme: why hasn't Pontiac adopted the Solstice design language for their other cars? If you added a dash of Solstice panache to the G5 you'd have a compact coupe worth a closer look. It makes no sense what they've done. They develop the gorgeous (to me and Lieberman, anyway) Solstice, and yet their other big intro (G8) goes a completely different direction. Talk about design schizophrenia. GM's branding problems in a nutshell.

  • KixStart KixStart on Dec 09, 2008

    From the article: Even the possible phaseout of GM’s Saturn division, he said, was in the works well before Congress demanded that GM produce a so-called viability plan by Dec. 2 to show it can become self-sufficient and pay back its loans Saturn has its best-reviewed product lineup in years, including the Aura sedan. But GM management made a proactive move to look at phasing out the brand because its sales didn’t match the critical acclaim. “We had to reassess. There’s simply not enough money to support all the brands,” Lutz said. Spinning this slightly differently, GM examined Saturn some years ago, decided it wasn't supportable, stripped it of its original identity (and customer base), reinvigorated it (at great expense) with a mix of badge-engineered versions of Chevy products and low-priced cars built in expensive Euros, shuffled the production and sourcing so it couldn't be pulled aside and sold for a reasonable amount of cash and has now discovered that you can sell Malibus and Traverses in only so many thinly disguised ways and is going to review it and maybe just fold it for zilch or a lot of dealer lawsuits? Why do these people have jobs? And, psarhjiniian, I believe you're pretty much right on the money in your assessment of Lutz.

  • Art Vandelay Interesting, the Polestar 2 I had as a rental utilized Android Automotive which is what GM said it is going to exclusively, yet it still offers Apple CarPlay according to this. Wonder if GM will do the same.
  • Stuart de Baker EVs just aren't ready for prime time for those with a single car and who take road trips. Being able to charge as soon as you arrive at a charging station, and even the chargers working on your car is a crapshoot. In the former case, you could have to wait for nearly an hour while someone else is charging.I also don't find EVs particularly fun to drive (I've driven a Tesla Model S and an Ionic 5.) I LOVE driving my '08 Civic (stick). I love the handling, the feel and responsiveness of the engine, the precise steering (the Michelin Pilot Ultra Sport tires help, but even with the snows on, the car is a joy). I have 152k on the clock, and hopefully another 25 years or so of driving (I was born early in the Eisenhower Administration and I have exceptionally healthy habits), and I'm going to try to keep the Civic for the duration.My Civic causes a less global warming emissions than some of these humongous battery operated trucks.
  • FreedMike They should throw in a Lordstown pickup with every purchase. Make it the “vapor twofer.”
  • Random1 Pretty excited about this update, I didn't see it available in mine this morning, but any day now... I think only Apple maps will be on the center display, and not Waze yet, but I assume that'll come soon enough. As to the unnecessary Tesla comment above : I'll take the build quality, the looks, and generally normal items that all cars should have over the M3 any day of the week.
  • Jonathan H. The ES production is going back to Japan so it's safe to assume its assembly building will be utilized for the new EV. Seems like a good fit for what will probably be fairly low volume compared to the Camry/Rav4 assembly lines.