Bailout Watch 338: GM Car Czar Stays In Lousy Hotels, Flies With the Rabble

bailout watch 338 gm car czar stays in lousy hotels flies with the rabble

“I’ve never quite been in this situation before of getting a massive pay cut, no bonus, no longer allowed to stay in decent hotels, no corporate airplane,” GM Car Czar Bob Lutz tells NPR radio. “I have to stand in line at the Northwest counter. I’ve never quite experienced this before. I’ll let you know a year from now what it’s like.” Hopefully not. Meanwhile and before that, Maximum Bob was busy comparing the Chevy Malibu to the VW Phaeton. On one level, I’m down with that. The VW Phaeton was a stunning car, in an absurdly misbranded, high-tech kinda way. I mean, we’re talking about a vehicle that automatically adjusts the angle of its sunroof at speed to protect occupants from sonic distress. But during his don’t call it The Detroit Auto Show interview, GM Car Czar Bob Lutz proudly reveals that the Chevy Malibu took its styling cues from the ill-fated Phaeton. What styling cues? Of course, there’s more Maximum Bobage to be savored here.

“Back 15 or 20 years ago, it was the people who really knew about cars and knew what they were doing who made those [American car dissing] statements,” Lutz tells the taxpayer-supported radio network. “And then it filters down to the less and less knowledgeable. And now the whole cycle is starting again at the top, where the knowledgeable people who truly understand the business now say the new range of General Motors cars are probably the best vehicles of their types in the world. And that’s going to trickle down — but it takes time.” Surprisingly (or not), Bob dismisses the possibility of advertising as the solution to Ye Olde (new?) Perception Gap…

“Frankly we don’t do enough [advertising],” Lutz insists. “We just can’t afford it right now. And there is not enough, not enough advertising dollars in the world to change the perception of people who are absolutely locked in and basically lock you out.”

But, apparently, the Malibu is “still gaining momentum.” “It is an extremely well-accepted car.” Not well accepted enough, Mr. Bond. And let’s see those hotel receipts, please.

[thanks to Pete Connor for the link]

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  • Mikedt Mikedt on Jan 14, 2009

    Bottom line, Bob. If you want me to believe GM makes the best/most reliable cars, put your money where your mouth is and give me an extended warranty. After all, if you're telling me the truth it shouldn't cost you anything. Until then I have to go with my gut, conventional wisdom and anecdotal evidence.

  • 357Sig 357Sig on Jan 14, 2009

    GM must have a Phaeton in its design studio as inspiration. The Buick Lucerne also looks like a close cousin of the phaeton. In fact, everything rear of the front wheel on the Buick Lucerne is literally a tracing-paper copy of the Phaeton. The interior is also a clone, some parts more than others. If imitation is indeed flattery, VW's got to be blushing. Here's a comparison.... Need I say more. It's too bad that the americans are such brand snobs and that VW didn't dedicate the $$ necessary to properly advertise the Phaeton. Oh, yes and lets not forget that some of VW's dealers were a little uncomfortable selling a $100,000 car (in the case of the W12). The Phaeton is still selling quite well in the rest of the world, with a much larger selection of engines than were offered in the USA. The V10 Twin Turbo Diesel will move the car (which weighs in about the same as a Chevy Tahoe) almost as quicky as the the W12. For 2009, the Phaeton has had a few minor upgrades, but essentially remains unchanged from what was (unsuccessfully) sold here in the USA for the model years 2004, 2005 and 2006.

  • DenverMike When was it ever a mystery? The Fairmont maybe, but only the 4-door "Futura" trim, that was distinctively upscale. The Citation and Volare didn't have competing trims, nor was there a base stripper Maxima at the time, if ever, crank windows, vinyl seats, 2-doors, etc. So it wasn't a "massacre", not even in spirit, just different market segments. It could be that the Maxima was intended to compete with those, but everything coming from Japan at the time had to take it up a notch, if not two.Thanks to the Japanese "voluntary" trade restriction, everything had extra options, if not hard loaded. The restriction limited how many vehicles were shipped, not what they retailed at. So Japanese automakers naturally raised the "price" (or stakes) without raising MSRP. What the dealers charged (gouged) was a different story.Realistically, the Maxima was going up against entry luxury sedans (except Cimarron lol), especially Euro/German, same as the Cressida. It definitely worked in Japanese automaker's favor, not to mention inspiring Lexus, Acura and Infiniti.
  • Ronnie Schreiber Hydrocarbon based fuels have become unreliable? More expensive at the moment but I haven't seen any lines gathering around gas stations lately, have you? I'm old enough to remember actual gasoline shortages in 1973 and 1979 (of course, since then there have been many recoverable oil deposits discovered around the world plus the introduction of fracking). Consumers Power is still supplying me with natural gas. I recently went camping and had no problem buying propane.Texas had grid problems last winter because they replaced fossil fueled power plants with wind and solar, which didn't work in the cold weather. That's the definition of unreliable.I'm an "all of the above" guy when it comes to energy: fossil fuels, hydro, wind (where it makes sense), nuclear (including funding for fusion research), and possibly solar.Environmental activists, it seems to me, have no interest in energy diversity. Based on what's happened in Sri Lanka and the push against agriculture in Europe and Canada, I think it's safe to say that some folks want most of us to live like medieval peasants to save the planet for their own private jets.
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  • MaintenanceCosts There's no mystery anymore about how the Japanese took over the prestige spot in the US mass market (especially on the west coast) when you realize that this thing was up against the likes of the Fairmont, Citation, and Volaré. A massacre.