By on March 3, 2010

Unnamed sources tell Reuters that the Maximum era at GM will end on May 1, when Vice-Chairman Bob Lutz will announce his retirement. Unless this is one of those Brett Favre things. Needless to say, TTAC appreciates the month of notice, and will struggle to put together a fitting tribute to the man we call Maximum.

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36 Comments on “Wild-Ass Rumor Of The Day: The Bob Lutz Era Ends On May 1...”


  • avatar
    BDB

    The Malibu was his best effort, and in a segment and brand that actually mattered, unlike the vast majority of his other projects.

  • avatar
    Cammy Corrigan

    The sooner this senile sod goes the better.

  • avatar
    PickupMan

    Brett Farve thing.

    He’ll be back just like Frtiz, as soon as Whitacre needs a hand (sigh).

  • avatar
    mtymsi

    If that’s true and I sure hope it is with Docherty also hopefully on the way out Whitacre needs to get some qualified outside talent to fill the upper mgt. positions. I hope Ruess is a stop gap measure too.

  • avatar
    Matthew Danda

    What would Mulally have done? “Retired” Lutz a long, long time ago….

  • avatar
    criminalenterprise

    The problem with having a car guy run your car company because he’s a car guy is Bob Lutz.

  • avatar
    crash sled

    Yeah, Bob can disappear like yesterday, but he’ll have to get paid his hush money like Fritz, I suppose.

    The “trapped hood” concept on that Malibu is interesting though. I’m always intrigued whether such expensive details actually sell cars, or are of value on a mass production vehicle. Lutz talked all the way through that video about matching the Euros and Germans with this Malibu, but is that a smart idea? Does form matter over function here in NA, at that level of detail? Can you make up that expense? Ram came up with the grille-on-hood concept years ago, and Ford rushed out to match them. I wonder if it’s paid off for either? I always have a suspicion that the Design guys get all worked up over something that the bulk of their customers wouldn’t even notice.

    • 0 avatar
      educatordan

      Yeah, this reminds me of the “reverse opening” hoods on the late 80s Buicks. Did that accomplish anything other than making them harder to work on?

    • 0 avatar

      Hmmm… wonder if Lutz was also responsible for the similar “trapped hood” that met the nosecone on the late-80s, hidden headlight Dodge Daytonas? The one that always showed a 1/4″ gap to one side?

      I’ll give GM a modicum of credit here, the concept is executed far better on the Malibu. So, congrats I guess. Gov’t Motors managed to surpass an 80s Mopar in one area.

  • avatar
    NN

    Say what you will about his business decisions (Solstice??), Lutz was a fantastic product guy, and under his watch we have seen GM build a competitive mid-size (Malibu), and a world-class sports sedan and sportscar (CTS-V and ZR-1). He will be missed.

    • 0 avatar
      mtymsi

      Malibu excluded you’ve hit the nail exactly on the head as to why Lutz’s contributions don’t/didn’t make any difference in GM’s viability. While the CTS-V and ZR1 are undoubtedly nice cars their sales are so small it doesn’t make any difference. GM needs/needed a product person that was capable of executing mass market vehicles. Lutz was a miserable failure at that choosing instead to champion niche market efforts. That wasn’t his role at GM.

  • avatar
    tced2

    Lutz is one person and one person can’t possibly “fix” an organization the size of GM. He undoubtedly made many contributions that we will not see. The CTS or Malibu cannot “fix” the problems GM has gotten into over 40 years. They were steps in the right direction.

    (Let’s not forget that Bob Lutz was running Chrysler in the 90’s when they were profitable. Iacocca was the public face of Chrysler but Lutz was there running things. Diamler thought they were worth buying for something like $30B.)

    • 0 avatar
      mtymsi

      Agreed that one person can’t be held responsible and couldn’t turn GM around by themselves but remember in his position Lutz could have had a much larger positive impact on GM if he had concentrated on high volume vehicles instead of the long list of niche market vehicles he championed. For the most part Lutz ignored the volume vehicles.

      Also, in reference to Lutz and Chrysler, if Lutz did indeed proficiently run Chrysler why did Iacocca choose Eaton and pass over Lutz which is why Lutz landed back at GM?

    • 0 avatar
      Runfromcheney

      Iacocca chose Eaton over Lutz because he personally hated Lutz with a passion; Iacocca was (is?) a rather egotistical guy and not only did Lutz challenge Iacocca’s every decision in the late 80s/early90s, but is also the person who convinced the board to retire Iacocca. In fact, Iacocca nicknamed the movement to find his successor “ABL”, which stood for “Anyone but Lutz”. Iacocca came to regret this decision, as he tried to do a hostile takeover of Chrysler in 1997 to block the sale to Daimler. He has later acknowledged that Lutz was probably a better chose than Eaton, and that he has regretted the decision.

      I have always wondered what would have happened if Lutz was the CEO of Chrysler instead. I imagine their 90s cars would have been much more reliable (It was Eaton who cheapened out on the components and materials, leading to such problems like the blowing Neon head gaskets and the rubberband Caravan transmissions), and I imagine that Chrysler would probably have rode out the 2000s with no problem at all if Lutz was still in charge instead of the Germans.

    • 0 avatar
      mtymsi

      Given Lutz’s obsession with niche market cars at GM and his almost total avoidance of mainstream models what leads you to believe Lutz would have been a great CEO at Chrysler? Better yet, why do you think Lutz was so preoccupied with the niche vehicles when he knew even if they were wild successes they still wouldn’t add any meaningful profit? And many of those niche models were flops.

      Sorry, but based on Lutz’s overall GM performance which is well documented I view him as an complete failure.

      What he needed to accomplish at GM was good selling mainstream vehicles and the Malibu was the only one. I don’t see how anyone could view his performance as a success.

  • avatar
    reclusive_in_nature

    I have a sinking suspicion CAFE may have played a part in him wanting to leave. I wouldn’t want to be tasked with trying to make interesting vehicles with those kind of specifications either. Sad time to be “a car guy”.

  • avatar
    BDB

    The sad thing is, imagine if Lutz and co. cut bait on Pontiac, Buick, and Saturn early, just held the line at Cadillac and focused all their energy on fixing Chevy FIRST.

    You could have ended up with a very strong lineup:

    *Chevy Astra (instead of the godawful Cobalt, and under the Chevrolet name with an actual marketing campaign they could have sold enough to justify building it here)
    *Malibu (same as in the real world)
    *Chevy Caprice (G8 with a Chevy badge, replacing the rental special Impala, give an Imapala SS variant later)
    *Chevrolet Solstice (or Sky, solid Miata competitor)
    *Camaro (same)
    Equinox (same)
    *Traverse (same)

    That’s a very strong lineup. Maybe you could even add a Malibu coupe and Malibu convertible since they wouldn’t have wasted time on the G6. Also the Malibu and Traverse would have come out much earlier.

    Instead all the good product was spread out, some of it to damaged and dying brands. It’s a damn shame.

    People make fun of Lincoln-Mercury, but Big Al has it right–fix your volume brand first, the luxury brands can wait.

  • avatar
    late_apex

    I hope they get him a big going-away cake and then put chrome on it to make it appropriately classy. :)

  • avatar
    Runfromcheney

    Although he was hit-and-miss at GM, he did wonders for Chrysler in the 90s. Under his leadership Chrysler was building interesting, class leading cars that were developed on shoestring budgets on less than half the regular time thanks to his amazingly efficient platform-dedicated, teamwork approach to development. Chrysler was a powerhouse under this watch. It is such a shame that Eaton had to impede on Lutz by cheapening the final products and selling the company out to the Germans. (Lutz was against the sale, and thus jumped ship when it looked like the sale was going to happen). Like I said in an earlier post, I can’t imagine what kind of great shape Chrysler would be in today if Lutz were put in charge instead of Eaton.

    • 0 avatar

      Still don’t know where all this ’90s Chrysler love keeps coming from.

      The only “class-leading” product Chrysler ever produced in the 90s was the Caravan (and perhaps the Ram, if you’re feeling charitable). The rest of their lineup was mediocre at best, and lots of models were frankly straight-up garbage (the 1st-gen Neon and its ancient 3-speed slushbox come to mind). The Soviet-grade build quality didn’t help matters either.

    • 0 avatar
      Runfromcheney

      Judging by your comments, you obviously haven’t driven any mid-to-late 90s Chrysler products.

      I personally own a 1998 Dodge Caravan (base model, next to no options) that never stops amazing me. It smooths imperfections in the road flawlessly, the 3.0L Mitsubishi V6 is amazingly smooth with plenty of power; I have no problem whizzing by others on the freeway. The styling is great and rather timeless: I was amazed by how modern and sleek it looked after I washed all the salt and grime off of it when I first got it. The Deep Cranberry clearcoat shined and looked amazing. The handling is great too, it always feels planted and solid, and despite it being a van, I can whip it around corners like it is a compact. The snow traction is amazing too, as it braved the northeast snowstorms like a champ. One time I was driving it through snow so deep that it was scraping the bottom of the front bumper, yet it never got stuck and always felt solidly planted.

      As per that “soviet era” build quality you talk about what if I told you that the panel gaps and seams in my van (Both interior and exterior) are even at all areas and the seams are so tight that you couldn’t stick paper in them. The doors all close evenly with a solid, reassuring “thunk”, and despite the fact that my Caravan has seen 12 years and 133,000 miles of hard use, there are no squeaks, rattles or creaks. The hinges, latches and weatherstripping are all still super tight. Mechanically, aside from maintenance and minor issues, the only problem has been the vaulted ultradrive Caravan transmission. However, I had it rebuilt by an independent transmission mechanic who modified it from the original design with upgraded hardware and filled it up with synthetic fluid; he guarantees it will last the life of the van.(I have also heard that although Neons are known for blowing head gaskets, they are fine if you stick a higher quality, steel gasket on it). Overall, this Caravan, despite being 12 years old, has styling, feel, and ergonomics that will rival most new cars.

      Funnily enough, around Christmas I drove a 2009 Town and Country, and I couldn’t believe that it and my Caravan were built by the same company. The T&C was flimsy, cheap and felt woefully underengineered. I am still baffled by the fact that the same company that built such an amazing, well engineered and well rounded vehicle like my Caravan can build such a flimsy piece of crap like that T&C. But then again, the gutted, post-Daimler Chrysler is an entirely different company than the powerhouse that existed in the late 90s.

  • avatar

    Most of the cars Lutz produced for GM ended up being cancelled. The G8 was his final disgrace. Unlike Iacocca and Mulally, Lutz does not have a feel for the mass market. He only knows how to produce niche vehicles. He would be a better fit at Tesla.

    • 0 avatar
      reclusive_in_nature

      I wouldn’t call the G8 a disgrace. Just the right car at the wrong time. 50 years from now they’ll probably auction for 6 figures. Hell, I can’t even find one for less than $20,000 now.

  • avatar
    CamaroKid

    I will not shed a tear for Bob. And I will not dance on his grave either. In the vehicles that Bob introduced/influenced/watched over/fixed at the last minute, his failures number almost even with his successes.

    Where Bob was a huge failure was in his inability to keep his thoughts to himself… One brain dead quote to the media after another. “Hybrids are stupid”, “Gas prices don’t matter”, “Flying coach sucks, I don’t know how you tolerate it”, “The Cobalt is a great car that will soldier on” How one person could say so many stupid things AND keep his job is a mystery on par with the Giza Pyramids or the Bermuda Triangle.

    • 0 avatar

      “Global warming is a crock of BS”

      While this may in fact be a valid opinion, it’s probably better if you don’t openly blurt it out to reporters…especially when you’re someone like Lutz.

    • 0 avatar
      BDB

      You especially shouldn’t say something like that, Alex, when your company is best known for producing big-ass SUVs and trucks!

    • 0 avatar
      crash sled

      Yeah, Lutz is a blowhard, except little of his hardblown nonsense made much business sense, or was ever cohesive, as he showed at 2 of the Detroit 3. For these “car guys” like Lutz, the only thing that ever mattered was they, themselves. There was always a cult of personality surrounding these logrolling, institutionalized narcissists. I’m glad to see that era move on, just wish it’d truly move on through the bankruptcy that these clowns brought on, rather than via Government Motors and the taxpayers.

      And now, Lutz is out there blaming “Toyota” for GM’s 1.3M vehicle steering recall. What a frickin blowhard.

      Bub bye, Bob. We’ll find some Mullaly clones to clean up the mess you created. You know, some non “car guys” who never set foot in the car business, but will walk right in and do your job better than you ever did. So, no, no need for you to come into the office. Just cash the hush money checks and stay away.

  • avatar
    86er

    No longer a rumour:

    http://ca.news.finance.yahoo.com/s/03032010/2/biz-finance-bob-lutz-gm-vice-chairman-longtime-auto-industry.html

    Lutz confirmed it in an email to AP.

  • avatar
    lprocter1982

    I thought Lutz retired once already… oh well… just like Gordon Lightfoot supposedly died a couple weeks ago. Which everyone thought, until Lightfoot made a statement from the green side of the grass.

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    Fare the well Mr. Maximum, we hardly knew ya (or what you were thinking)! ;O)

  • avatar
    JSF22

    It was self evident there would be room at GM for only one egocentric old bull. Whitacre has the right to build his team, and to the extent he builds it mostly from the outside he might succeed. But the cars Lutz heavily influenced were dramatic improvements and for that I give him a lot of credit.

  • avatar

    Maybe now GM can get on with the business of running a business and not just putting on dog and pony shows such as the long drawn out sagas such as the Camaro and Volt. The Camaro design looks old already to me because we saw it on the show circuit for nearly three years before they actually built it. Not to mention it just looks bad from behind. Just stand behind one and look at it before you put on your flame throwers.

  • avatar
    nevets248

    somewhere, the one-handed typists at GM inside news must be crying, and other automotive “analysts” such as Global Lack-of-sight’s Rebecca Lindland and Arron Bragman.”the putz” will probably return to GM as an “advisor”, just like “harder, faster” Henderson.

  • avatar
    mtymsi

    When the Volt finally arrives there will be no upper mgt. GM people left to take responsibility if (when) it flops. But wait, those now gone never took responsibility for their actions or lack thereof anyway.


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