By on September 23, 2009

Judge not lest ye be entertained... (

Let’s imagine that Bob Lutz has quit his job (“New GM? It’s a crock of shit!”) and you applied for the job and got it. What would you do? How would you change “New GM’s” marketing? Would you change some of GM’s brands’ slogans (“The New Class in World Class”)? Would you redefine some of the brands? Maybe you know a better spokesman than Ed Whitacre? Maybe a new brand is the order of the day? Bob Lutz does come in for a lot of stick, but could you do any better? Please help “New GM”, you’re their only hope . . .

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54 Comments on “Ask The Best And Brightest: Could You Do Maximum Bob’s Job?...”

  • avatar

    No one can fix GM. But a lot of people did their best to make sure Gm doesn’t get fixed.

    Ever watched Holmes on Homes? Sometimes you have to rip the whole thing off before you can start something real.

  • avatar

    it would only be fair that the first poster to this question is farago himself, as he was asked the exact same question on the autoline-week-whatever show in march/april 2009 where he appeared with de lorenzo
    and others. farago never answered as many insults were being thrown around.

    so please farago, its your turn….

  • avatar

    I would sunder the entire organization and fire -everyone- who works there currently. Then hire new people. Need to be permanently rid of the organizational sclerosis that’s plagued GM for so long and has put them in their current predicament.

    I don’t care about save the precious jobs, if these losers were doing their jobs they would not have ended in bankruptcy.

    I think it would be most helpful to be free of the misery that is the UAW. I am all for labor unions when they are fair and honorable but the UAW are a bunch of leeches. What is it, 20+ dollars an hour to do not jack when plants are “idled”. Get out. Just get out and never come back.

    In the New New GM I would make damn good and sure the beancounters were not allowed to make the cars hideous as they have been allowed to. I’d ensure product diversification as GM -only- sucked the SUV teat for far too long.

    There would be quality control in place at every step – particularly concerning drivetrain reliability/efficiency and interior quality. The new GM vehicles need to be comfortable to ride around in and you need to be sure you’re going to get there and it should not cost a fortune to do so. In my mind these are the most important qualities a personal transportation device can have.

    Of course exterior styling would need to be improved quite a lot. GM has built and currently builds the ugliest, clunkiest looking things imaginable. Big, Dumb SUVs and sedans with goofy, wavy body cladding are out. Gone.

    As far as actual operations go I would prove that Americans can (I think) design and build a small car that’s not a gutless, joyless, de-contented penalty box.

    More later, maybe.

  • avatar

    edit 2 prev post:

    full title of the show i meant is

    Autoline After Hours – Perfect Apologists

  • avatar

    I would reinstate the Alfred P Sloan thinking of GM as a ladder of brands, WITH NO INTERNAL OVERLAPS. A clearly defined portfolio, making the brands niche brands within the ladder. Buick would have a future, but not as a stand-alone brand, but as a brand of niche vehicles. Buick doesn’t have to have its own version of every single platform.

    I would separate GM-Daewoo as a separate junior brand, under Chevrolet. Badge them as the Korean price-fighters they are. Value for money, no fringes. Chevrolet Aveo would be no more. I would merge the Chevrolet Trucks with GMC into one entity, making GMC the upscale choice. One controversial move would be to cancel the Cadillac Escalade.

    Of course, there’s a million things that would be fun, but this is for starters…

  • avatar

    “so please farago, its your turn….”

    I think Robert Farago would reply if he had the chance. Unfortunately, he’s banned from the site…

  • avatar

    If I had Lutz’s job, I would:

    1. Revive Pontiac somehow.
    2. Push for killing the Corvette, Silverado, Avalanche, Suburban, and Camaro.
    3. Change Chevrolet’s slogan to “Still Better than Homemade Vee-hickles”.
    4. Leave a dead rat in Susan Docherty’s company mailbox everyday.
    5. Wait for liquidation because GM is screwed out of its mind if I am in charge of anything they do.

  • avatar

    Lutz’s Job: Kinda like being the attorney for a serial killer. Somebody has to do it.

  • avatar

    Step 1 – Brands – Pontiac comes back, GMC dies off.

    Step 2 – Two types of dealerships – Chevy/Pontiac and Cadillac/Buick.

    Step 3 – Pontiac becomes the true performance arm of GM. Pontiac has no 4 cylinder models (unless they are turbo), and most of the lineup is imported from Holden until domestic assembly can be set up. in Chevy/Pontiac dealerships the Chevys are the basic low cost mainstream cars, the Pontiacs are the more upscale performance oriented versions. Chevy gets to keep the Corvette because of nostalgia, but the Camaro SS and Z28 become the Pontiac Firebird and Trans-Am.

    Step 3.b – Cadillac is pushed more upmarket, Buick fills in the gaps. The DTS is killed off, the STS is completely redone to be competitive with the 7-series/S-class, the XLR is brought back with completely redone interior to be competitive with the best German luxury brands, base model gets the Z06 engine, XLR-V gets the ZR-1 powertrain, both are offered with DSG style gearbox. The short wheelbase Escalade and Escalde EXT are both removed, leaving only the Escalade ESV, which gets an independent rear suspension so you don’t have to haul out the rear seat for extra cargo space. As for Buick the Lucerne changes platforms to be based on the STS and names to return to Park Avenue, and a new smaller Buick is introduced based on the CTS platform, becoming the Regal. The new LaCrosse remains as a FWD/AWD choice for those who want that.

    Step 4 – New marketing puts all GM brands against competitors and shows feature for feature how they are superior. New warranty is 5 year bumper to bumper 10 year unlimited miles powertrain with no parts exempted except for tires, brake pads, and other basic wear items.

    Step 5 – As soon as enough money has been made to pay for the lawyers, every UAW controlled plant is shut down and re-opened in a non-union state.

  • avatar

    Well since Lutz’s position doesn’t have that much authority to change much, there isn’t much one could do.

  • avatar

    Yeah, I had forgotten about the brand ladder thing. I agree wholeheartedly. It’s the same thing Ford did. Particularly Ford Taurus/Mercury Sable. SAME CAR. Sable had more fluff, but no real meaningful differences as the drivetrains were the same, the brakes the same, I think you could get a Taurus with leather seats and auto climate control. Were there any sable options that couldn’t be had on a Taurus?

    Why, oh why would anyone who was paying attention buy the more expensive version of the same ridiculous hoopty (with the tinfoil transmission, lol)

  • avatar

    You might as well have asked if anyone would want the job of Captain on the Titanic.

    I wouldn’t touch that job with a 10-foot pole.

    GM’s cars and dealers dug the grave. The bailout pushed GM into the hole and started filling the hole with dirt.

    GM is toast. The bailout killed any notion of patriotism their customers may have had.


  • avatar

    I’d re-organize the brands like so:

    One dealer network would be Daewoo-Chevrolet-GMC. GMC would be body-on-frame trucks ONLY, period, full stop. No ubibody crossovers. Daewoo would range in price from $8 grand for total strippers up to around $16 grand. Chevy would be from $18 grand to around $30 grand. No more body-on-frame trucks, but it would keep the entry-level crossovers.

    The other dealer network would be Corvette-Buick-Cadillac.

    The Corvette would be a stand-alone brand, with only one vehicle (the current Corvette). At least at first. If successful, it would expand into two or three lines of high-powered all-American sports cars/exotics.

    Buick would fight Lexus, BMW, Mercedes, etc. For real, they would move way upmarket. The cheapest Buick would be $35 grand, and have a V8 and leather standard. No I-4s and steelies w/cloth seats anymore.

    Cadillac would go even further upmarket. It would be an American Rolls-Royce. Gradually move it upmarket until the cheapest Caddy is $90 grand. In the old days, that’s how upscale Caddys were, and I’d try to make it that way again.

  • avatar

    Oh, and the $35 grand cheapest Buick would be a two-seat convertible on the Kappa platform, and called the Reatta. Except this time it would be stretched, have a power top, V-8, and a trunk at least as big as the Miata.

    Seriously I really want an American car company to build a proper roadster!

  • avatar

    Seriously I really want an American car company to
    build a proper anything.

    There, fixed that for you.

  • avatar

    I’d go the other direction on brands, as the value of a brand today is continually decreasing. The goal is to make a profit while selling cars/trucks/parts/services.

    Step 1 – Break up the company into three businesses: trucks, cars and services. Have as many models as each business needs to sell in volume, as minimum volumes are crucial for the entire business chain.

    Step 2 – Trucks – the GMC line is fine. Take the size range up and down even further, there are more segments there, but each model needs to sell 100,000 per year.

    Step 3 – Cars – Make them all Chevrolets, forget the rest of the brands, but keep the models if they can sell 100,000 per year.

    Step 4 – Compete with your dealers. Company showrooms, inhouse dealers, internet dealers, give people options on how to buy besides the traditional dealer.

    Step 5- Open up warranty service to independent shops, online training for auto techs and DIY types that want to test and do some of their own maintenance work.

    Goals – Faster and easier ways to test, buy, service and maintain a car or truck. Americans love choices, give them choices.

    As for which cars to make and sell – just do what the rental car companies do:
    1. Subcompact
    2. Compact
    3. Midsize
    4. Fullsize
    5. Premium
    6. Convertible
    7. Small SUV
    8. CUV
    9. Minivan
    10.Fullsize SUV

    Just make something that indexes in the top quartile to the leading model in each category, and market share will be enough to provide volume.

    Forget trying to make global products, let each non-American country or region do its own business.

    There are casualties for sure, but how many millions of buyers of Camry/Accords care one bit if you kill the Corvette?

  • avatar


    Come on now, we build plenty of proper cars.

    There are still no no Asian pony cars (Genesis coupe doesn’t count, no V8), the Focus is a good if homely econobox, the Taurus SHO and 300c are great flagships for mass-market brands, our SUVs/pickups are still the best by far, and the CTS is a great luxury sports sedan. And the Panther platform, as ancient as it is, is the best cop/taxi/livery platform out there.

    Every time American car companies stick to being classically American in character–brash, big engine, bold styling–they do well. When they try to be something they’ aren’t is where they falter. That is the secret to their future success. They need to be themselves.

  • avatar

    PPC – No, you couldn’t get anything on the Sable that you couldn’t get on the Taurus (except for two tone leather). However, optioned out equally, the two were virtually identical in price, so people weren’t paying more for the Sable, it was just there if you had an aversion to chrome.


    And yes, as B2B said, there are plenty of great American cars. The Fusion is every bit as good as the Camry and Accord, and the Malibu is darn close. The F150 and Silverado are worlds better than the Tundra and Titan, the Mustang is more fun as a convertible than the Solara, with just as nice if not a better interior and reliability that is easily on par. There are plenty more and I might have jumped in first, but something about starting a debate with someone whose username redirects to a pro-flaming website held me back.

  • avatar

    And to your point on Mercury, Mercury was ALWAYS like that. It was just a brand to give Lincoln dealers volume sales. Now that they are all being merged in the Ford-Lincoln-Mercury dealers, after Ford and Mercury are fully fixed Ford will work on making Mercury a real brand.

  • avatar

    I’d start Happy Hour at 11.

  • avatar

    I hate SUVs, so no. Flatly hate. Aside from towing there is nothing that an SUV is good at that cannot be replicated by a minivan or a station wagon. I adore station wagons, or an “Estate Car” as the brits would call them. Particularly volvos. Such pretty, elegant things.

    A pickup truck is an Oxcart with an engine and too many people daily drive them for no reason. Hate ’em. I like Australian Utes, however. Useful Utility without being a big dumb lump. Jesus christ WHY can’t we get utes in the states. “Why must it always be big, ridiculous A-hole chariots.

    The brash, big engine thing will be their downfall. I hate to use these two words but “peak oil”. American companies (or anyone) can not continue to build automobiles this way. It’s simply not sustainable. Pony cars are not mass market. They simply cannot be. There are not the resources to sustain them.

    The new Taurus is too big, and fat. As is the Chrysler 300.

    The time of the V8, as sad as it makes me, is at it’s end. If there were the oil to burn in them indefinitely I’d say alright, but it just isn’t so.

    Small and efficient is the way forward. There should be no “econoboxes” as we know them today. you should be able to buy a small car as a super-stripper like todays econoboxes or with every option imaginable.

    Edit: The flaming site is mine, I’ll have you know. Flame wars are fun. Not here since this isn’t my place but if you want to man up and register on FC I’ll be glad to go toe-to-toe with you. :devil:

  • avatar

    Nullo Modo has it right. But there’s a couple
    more things: make reliable cars, and cars that people want to buy. Until all this happens, Honda and Toyota will continue to rule the car universe.

  • avatar

    The future big engines, in about 25 years or so, will be big American electric engines.

    The 2036 plug-in Mustang will be all torque, all the time. ;)

  • avatar

    Ok first of all you guys are assuming that Bob has “infinite cosmic power,” which he does not. (And if he did, that huge ego would never give up the job.) But I digress. Here’s what I would do with infinite power to fix GM.

    1. Yes I would love to renegotiate the contracts with the UAW to something realistic. The gub-ment would never let me get rid of them but lets talk reality on wages and yes I’ll shut down the whole damn company to do it. Obama won’t let us sit on our asses for long and I bet even money I get at least SOME of what I want.

    2. Cadillac – NO MORE TRUCKS or SUVS! American Mercedes, like old school Mercedes, flagship sedan cost $80,000, feels like it’s worth every penny and you’ll put it in your will to give to your grandson. Below that you need a personal luxury coupe “Eldorado” and a mid size sedan much like the CTS, but of course each with equal quality to the flagship. Each one available in a “V” version or with a hell of a diesel. Cadillac MUST be the technology leader. There must be options that are only available on Cadillacs.

    3. Buick – Bankers hotrods again! Smaller than Cadillacs would be. Price from $35,000 to $60,000 (which is where Caddys would start). Keep the Enclave, make the butt less gigantic and work like hell on the quality. Buick just needs 2 sedans also, something Regal sized (which is probably the name I would bring back) and something Park Avenue-ish. Both would have differently tuned versions of the same V8. (Memo to engineering, can we come up with a switch on the dash that will allow the user to go between sport and econo modes in the CPU?) I actually like Buick’s current styling.

    4. Chevy – Cars for the working stiff. Cloth interiors only please, base versions start with crank windows and manual transmissions. Yes you can option it up like a birthday cake but if you ONLY want power windows you can have JUST power windows. You don’t have to take it with some “Option Package A” that includes a monstrous sound system and a moonroof. Chevy sells coupes, sedans, hatchbacks and wagons. 4cyl and optional 6cyl power. Starting at Kia prices and nothing more expensive than $30,000.

    5. GMC – Trucks and SUVs. Body on frame, small up to XL. Every truck comes two ways, Work Truck and Luxury Package. WT for the jobsite and Luxury Package for the dipsticks who think they need to drive a Yukon to soccer practice or the small percentage of people who really need honest to God SUVs. Sell them for whatever it takes to turn a profit and build them like tanks.

    There’s my 2 cents or my small novel. Take it for what you will.

  • avatar

    Yeah, I’d take over. I’d fire the BOD and just about every manager there. The labor force is likely an asset, and there’s too much political pressure to keep that in-tact. They can stay.

    Then I’d spend the month finding someone like Al Mulaly to take over, because there’s no way in hell I’d try to run that company.

  • avatar


    The time of the V8, as sad as it makes me, is at it’s end.

    I’m not quite ready to put the V8 engine in the grave yet. With VVT, direct injection, 7 or 8 speed transmissions, mild gearing, and lighter build materials I’m hopeful that they will be in the future automotive landscape, at least as long as gasoline is the main power source.
    The XF 5.0 and LS460L both manage an 19MPG rating while weighing 4000lbs and 44000lbs respectively and making 380hp.

    The Charger R/T and Genesis 4.6 also get 19MPG, weigh around 4000lbs each and make 368hp. Both the Tau and Hemi have VVT, but neither employs beneficial direct injection yet. The Charger also makes do with just a 5-spd.

    The GS460 weighs 3900lbs, makes 342hp, doesn’t have direct injection like the LS460, and gets a 20MPG rating.

    Big power six-cylinders get between 20 and 23 MPG while making 40hp to 100hp (and a ton of torque) less than many new V8s.

    A (relatively) affordable 23MPG 330+hp V8 will take some work, but it looks like the technology is available. All there needs to be is an auto company willing to commit the resources to make it.

  • avatar

    Could You Do Maximum Bob’s Job?

    I’m not sure. I am strange, eccentric and kind of out there.

    If I SOMEHOW was in a position of power at GM…
    I would pretty much clear out the old guard for starters. Then … trim things to a new, sparse form. Might have to start a new brand after destroying some of the old brands. Going to need fun cars, not just cars that look like the rides of fossilized corporate executives. Going to need diesels. Forget HUMMER. Forget Trucks. Forget SUVS. Have a few Crossovers. Going to need small, awesome, youthful cars. Going to need something that can compete with a Toyota Corolla (GM should have realized this like 20 years ago). Make Cadillac into something really freaking nice. Have cheap, nice, charming cars. Not wasteful, bloated, nasty vehicles with huge grody engines that guzzle gas. Have a VERY FEW guzzler performance things. Only a few. HAVE TO CONNECT WITH (hip) YOUTH, NOT JUST OLD FOSSILS. Ancient GM nostalgia will only get you so far… all that does is connect with the fossils. You have to get through to the youth (or younger middle aged people) with awesome products.

  • avatar

    Start by making Escalade more gluttonous than ever. I’m talking Bentley-grade. Don’t ever ever ever mention killing an icon ever again. Give me something to aspire to/lust after. Avoid blatantly PC moves like the plauge. Anti-American libs on the coasts aren’t ever going to buy our ish anyway. Avoid generic-ness and obvious rebadges like H1N1. Make DTS longer and floatier than ever – but give it a real name and AWD. In fact bring back all the best names from the past – Eldorado, Riviera, Electra (best car name EVER), etc. Market the nostalgia – show the classics in the TV spots. Make D.I. standard on everything. Keep Northstar, but spruce it up with D.I. and cyl. deact. Offer upscale models of all brands with dual turbo (compete with ecoboost which will incidentally most likely sway me back to Ford and away from Cadillac after several cars. Well, that and the bailouts). Offer diesel engines. At least TRY to make cheap cars cool and fun. Most of all, be unapologetic and unabashedly American. We’ll do our own thing… and do it WELL. Stop trying to recreate the Camry and Pry-us (thanks Jeremy!). And, I myself would randomly go test drive new and used cars and look for rattles and stupid ish that makes a good car seem cheap. Stop scraping the bottom of the barrel on certain parts from our suppliers. Don’t offer rental fleets stripped-down plastic coated lead mobiles. This is the only exposure euro-/asia-o-snobs have to GM, and presently it’s EPIC-LY TRAGIC. Ummm, the U-A-dub can stick around – those poor guys have taken a beating. But, I’d definitely be inclined to have a few Reagan moments if their leadership gets too uppity. Oh, and promote the people who came up with the “does it return the favor” ad. Make a variation of that ad for every Cad. Make unfit-for-MSM Euro-style provocative net videos for ads. Bring back leases if we can. (BMW is kicking your A** at present in that regard.) For what it’s worth, I’m not an old person. A kid, in fact, with a good job who spends WAY too much money on cars. Can I have a CTS-V or a Platinum Slade at half price for my priceless wisdom, pleeeez?

  • avatar

    No guys, big engines will just burn hydrogen. At least that is what I think the Detroit and big oil guys want us to do as gasoline gets too expensive to burn willy-nilly. They talk fuel cells but it’s just a distraction or green-wash.

    I wouldn’t want Lutz’s job – not unless I could really make some changes that rocked GM to it’s foundation. Different people, different products, and I’d educate the public about my products MUCH better.

  • avatar

    ajla: “The XF 5.0 and LS460L both manage an 19MPG rating while weighing 4000lbs and 44000lbs respectively and making 380hp.”

    Wow, the LS must have bulked-up since I last looked, and now employs a magic technology to achieve such good fuel econ … what’s the new 0-60 time?

  • avatar


    That’s it. One brand – Chevrolet.

    GM does not have the money or the time to fiddle with 4 brands. GM doesn’t know how to differentiate 4 brands anyway.

    I’d benchmark Toyota/Honda for reliability and make that the focus of the engineering/manufacturing effort.

    GM has to stop the loss of market share, and that, primarily, has to do with reliability.

    All top tier execs have to buy their own car, and it has to be a Cobalt. I would be the first guy at work, I’d stand in the parking lot and see what people drive. Any exec shows up in something other than a Cobalt he gets his pink slip then and there. IOW, the execs are going to drive what they build. They are going to live with what they build. They are going to endure what they build.

  • avatar

    Kill the Volt.
    Keep Hummer.
    Kill every rebadged product.
    Introduce no-haggle pricing for every product.
    Cull half of the dealerships.
    Offer the union workers a 20% wage increase if they will disband the union.

  • avatar

    This is not about that Lutz clown, and sure not about myself.

    We do not need to ask, we have the undeniable EVIDENCE:

    When Ford, and partilularly Bill Ford Jr or whatever his name is, recognized that he was leading Ford to RUIN, as did his compadres at GM and Chrysler, he turned to a TOTAL OUTSIDER, Boeing’s MULLALY.

    Guess what! FORD is doing great, while the “experienced” GM and Chrysler “car guys” (NOT!!) BANKRUPT THEIR SORRY COMPANIES!!!

    I rest my case.

  • avatar

    Sorry, Cammy, but I just can’t get fired up about the question. I’ve never had the desire to become a government employee.

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    One night, when nobody was at work, I’d load up my personal jet with a lot of ordnance, and I’d finish off the company, building-by-building, once and for all.

    Yup. Just like the cowboy movies where they shoot the horse with a broken leg. Only this horse has four broken legs.

  • avatar

    My father worked as an instructor in the automotive shop at Merced College and they ran an experiment. They stripped down a Honda automatic transmission and a GM automatic trasmission out of a Sunbird. They filmed everything. Here’s what they found: the Honda used ball bearings extensively. The Honda used machined parts everywhere. The Honda had a full set of planetary gears. The GM used plastic bearings. The GM used stamped metal parts. The GM had two planetary gears instead of three or four.
    I went to a Penn State football game a week ago and I noticed that all the vendors that used trucks to pull their concession stands were using Ford F250s. All of them. Not one GM to be seen. Why? See the first paragraph.
    To be successful GM needs to stop listening to the bean-counters and start building killer products. Products that are engineered correctly. Products that last.
    Buy a 2×4 at the lumber yard lately? It’s not 2×4 is it? It’s really 1-3/4 by 3-1/2. That’s the way GM has been building cars for the last four decades. That’s why they use plastic bearings. That’s why their sales have fallen to squat. That’s why there was nothing but Fords at Penn State. Kill the bean-counters, build a real 2×4, and watch the customers return…. if it isn’t already too late.

  • avatar

    I have way better plans. I’d maintain the status quo, in fact, I’d make the status quo into law via a gargantuan 300 page business turnaround plan written in the hottest business gobbledeegook, i.e. “… leverage our positional stance to maintain synergies of marketing, branding, and manufacturing while striving to maintain High Quality and Customer Exuberance across our particulate pantheon of production. This High Quality Initiative would circle back and re-link-up with our continued Commitment To The Customer for providing the Best Products and Services in the world of automotive fantastickry…” The plan would also feature nonsensical graphs, charts, and tables that do not in any way relate to cars or the car manufacturing business.

    In the middle of this there would be a single sentence demanding a 100% cash raise for me and the immediate establishment of an automotive skunk works on my own private island staffed by MIT trained exotic dancers who will continuously demonstrate fictional electric vehicles and non-polluting SUVs while I instead manufacture Healthy Snack bars out of reprocessed cardboard and bird droppings for sale to the schoolchildren of the world.

    MUAHAHAHHHAHAHAHAHA! Soon the world will feel my wrath!!!

  • avatar

    I would take the best selling (Pre-Diluvian) models from each brand and focus my qualify mavens on them.

    I’d talk the hell out of that process, inviting the press in to watch the pony show, having the suppliers testify about the “new world of Quality First,Price Second” and how wonderful it is. I’d make the interior out of materials a grade higher – so that the difference if visible to the casual observer.

    I would then take that model and warranty the living hell out of it. I’d charge a little more for the car, citing my motto Quality First, Price Second but taking care of customers of that model like my first born. New ashtray? Yes SIR!

    I’d take this approach for a couple of reasons:

    1. It’s cheaper and faster than developing a new model.
    2. It’s a very visible way of announcing the new “Quality Focused” GM.
    3. It gives a way to change GM’s pricing model from ‘cheap and getting cheaper’ to ‘full sticker is justified by what you get’.
    4. For people who still want cheap, you’ll still have cheap but instead of complaining about the quality of ‘cheap’ and swearing off GM, they’ll wistfully wish they’d paid a little more and gotten the quality GM model.

    I really think that this is the best chance. It’s the best balance between continuing to do business as usual and burning everything to the ground and starting over.

  • avatar

    I’d benchmark Toyota/Honda for reliability and make that the focus of the engineering/manufacturing effort.

    Yes, but they need to have 20% fewer defects per vehicle. If a Camcord has 80 defects per 100 vehicles then a Malibu needs to have 64 per 100.

  • avatar

    Like others mentioned, the first thing I’d do is fire probably 80% of the folks at GM. Everyone in management for sure. How could these folks possibly argue their competency? They ran GM into the ground and took billions of out tax dollars along for the ride!

    Chevy gets a small, medium, and large Chevy sedan (and the Vette). And a small, medium, and large SUV/CUV. These will not be Daewoos. They will be competitive and profitable. It’s not impossible – Honda and Toyota have done it for decades.

    Cadillac gets the CTS, the XLR, and a large uber-luxury sedan to rival the S-Class.

    GMC gets the cargo van and the pickup.

    I’d try to rebuild a financing arm so I could profit on the interest from selling my vehicles.

    Every vehicle gets a 10 year/100k warranty. If one vehicle starts to run high warranty costs, I fire half the team and bring in new blood. This is to show that “Good Enough” is no longer good enough and there are consequences for poor performance.

  • avatar

    If one vehicle starts to run high warranty costs, I fire half the team and bring in new blood.

    And better incentives. If a 10/100,000 Malibu can be expected to incur $1500 in warranty repairs – any reduction in that $1500 number will be shared with the team. If $500 of that is to fix manufacturing errors any reduction will be shared with the line workers. If $1000 is due to engineerng decisions then that reduction will be shared with the egineering team.

    Anything over that number and heads roll both on the line and the engineering studio.

  • avatar

    1. First things first, kill the dead weight. GMC is redundant, and Buick is a dead issue in America. Chevy and Cadillac are the only GM brands with any relevance.

    2. Since we’ve killed half of “New GM”, we have some good, orphan products that need new homes. Slide the new LaCrosse in as a Caddy to compete with the Lexus ES, restyle the Enclave a little and slot it between the SRX and Escalade. Caddy would then have more or less direct competitors for IS (CTS), ES (LaCrosse), RX (SRX), GX (Enclave), and LX (Escalade). Drop the DTS, seriously improve the STS to compete with GS, and call it a day at Cadillac.

    3. Chevy is moving in the right direction. Once the Cobalt and Aveo are gone, the worst product they will have will be the Impala. Bring the outgoing G8 in as the new Impala, but tone it down a bit. It’s a little too sporty to appeal to the family sedan set, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be sharpened up with a sport package and an SS model.

    4. Offer the best warranties in the business. Hyundai/Kia’s 10/100,000 powertrain should be the benchmark, with bumper to bumper coverage of 5/50 for Chevy, and 6/60, or even 7/70, for Cadillac. If you have confidence in your cars, show the public, and maybe they will too.

    5. True value pricing, and get the money off the hoods! Rebates do nothing but show the public that you’re desperate to move the metal. If you can sell a given model at a lower price and still make a profit, do it. You don’t see Honda giving $2,500 rebates and 0% interest, do you?

    6. Innovate. Offer the latest features, like Bluetooth, USB ports, and mobile WiFi hotspots. Don’t get behind the competition, it’s harder to catch up than it is to keep up.

  • avatar
    Samuel L. Bronkowitz

    I’m with Greigert…

    Go out in a blaze of glory. Cater to those that are anti-PC. Be an Ahmuricun car company again. Trucks. Gun-racks. Boulevard-cruisers. Resurrect everything that made the past cars great. I’d love nothing more than to be able to buy a new ’72 Monte Carlo with modern running gear, amenities, and safety equipment.

    Obviously, the posts about brand-overlap and badge-engineering are spot on as well.

  • avatar

    I would line up private DIP financing through the chinese and eliminate paying pension benefits for a company that had 50% market share (and no automation) with a company that has 19% (soon to be 16%), until that is done there is no real way for GM to compete in the long run other than taking all of thier profits from China and using those to offset loses in NA (which wouldn’t be enough and would just end up costing them in China. And since I was eliminating pension benefits, I would just eliminate NA manufacturing (UAW) and import cars (thier market share would shrink dramatically, but it would be profitable) and then slowly begin building plants in the south as a generation passes and GM begins to be known as “the” quality chinese manufacturer of choice.

  • avatar

    RNC +1

    The most logical solution I’ve heard. GM pulls up stakes and heads to China.

    The scene, 2075 AD:

    Grandpa, “I’m telling you Sonny, GM used to be the biggest company in NA. They had this HUGE headquarters building in Detroit!”

    Grandson, “You mean that crumbling ruin of a city that is only open to tourist? I’ve heard that the Colosseum is nothing if you’ve seen the old Chrysler Proving Grounds! Now help me load this antique HD LCD TV into my Chery so I can take it to the recycling center.”

  • avatar

    90% of the above posters went off topic here. You were asked could you do Bob’s job. But really, laying off everyone, eliminating brands or reviving brand, or making Malibu more reliable than Camry while keeping costs down are all aspects not associated with this job. Bob Lutz doesn’t have the power to do any of these, even if he tries his best.

  • avatar

    If anyone can make GM profitable all the present religions will end as everyone will know the real messiah has arrived.

    Reducing GM down to a company making bicycle trailers will not count.

  • avatar

    I would turn over the entire organization to the Best and Brightest! So many constructive thoughts!

  • avatar

    I could never do Lutz’s job. Not in a million years. GM is so f’ed up, that there’s no way to fix it. Not the cars, not the culture, not the marketing, nothing.

    Jesus Christ himself would not be able to do it at this point. It’s gone too far for even him to fix everything thats wrong with GM.

    A giant +1 to Lokkii…that’s about the best place for GM to start.

  • avatar

    jrderego: I actually did LOL after reading your post.

  • avatar

    stars9texashockey :

    Thanks for the compliment.

    I’d love to write goofball articles for this site. Review completely fictional cars, add a little levity, you know?

  • avatar

    Everyone who says improve quality first is spot-on.

    That has been Toyota’s stock-in-trade all along.

    Do Toyotas perform better than other cars? Mostly no.

    Do they look better? Nope.

    Handle better? Again, no.

    Hold together better? Save for rust problems until relatively recently, hell yes.

    Complacency is what got GM in the hole to begin with, so once the quality gremlins are under control, start working on the aesthetics. Personally, I think GM peaked around 1970 or so, where styling, performance and quality led the industry.

    One thing I would do differently from what everyone else is suggesting is what Chrysler has done for its remaining three brands. Give each of them independence once again, each responsible for styling, marketing and most important, profit and loss. Cost redundancies, for sure, but the increased sales from better product will be worth it.

    Some coordination is needed to prevent product overlap, but GM worked best when the divisions acted like separate car companies. The days of separate engine designs are over, market share won’t allow it, but here’s how I would position the brands.

    Cadillac: Top of the line, high-end models, but needs a 5-series type car like the CTS to maintain volume. Caddy owners in the good old days tended to be flashy. Target cars: BMW 7 and 5, Mercedes S and E. Keep the Slade because the imports really don’t have anything like it.

    Buick: While Caddy slugs it out with the Europeans, Buick fights in the Pacific theater. LaCrosse actually is the right car for the purpose, as it is similar in size and luxury to the CTS but a completely different configuration priced a cut below. More like a mid-level Acura or Lexus. There’s room for a Park Avenue as well, like the rear-drive one sold in China. Keep the Chinese involved, they seem to have a better idea what a Buick is than anyone these days. Chinese market gets whatever it wants.

    Chevy: Volume and value leader. Less opulent than the others means a little sportier. Use the late 1960’s as a benchmark once again. Must be able to slug it out in Corolla/Civic and Camry/Accord segments, and if quality is up there, the battle is already half won. Give the cars some good ol’ Chevy style to win the other half.

    Lutz’s greatest achievement at Chrysler was helping it become a design leader, as it was in the 1950’s. GM took over from there, only falling back in the 1980’s. GM has to take the styling lead once again to get the edge they need.

  • avatar

    Once again, Lokkii types what I’m thinking in a more clear and concise manner than feel like I could have…+1

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