By on April 1, 2010

As many of you have probably figured out by now, I’m a firm atheist. You die, you become worm food, and your relatives divide up your estate. Life goes on. However, when I was learning religious education at school, I was told about the many different Gods on offer. We have God, Allah, Buddha (not really a god, but you get the gist), Zeus, Apollo, Thor and loads of others. But at no point did my teacher mention a Japanese car company. Bob Lutz just did.

You guessed it, our favourite near-octogenarian car exec is back with another cracker. Business Week reports that ahead of the March sales figures (and his latest retirement), Bob Lutz was there to stick the boot into Toyota. “We are well ahead of plan and growingly so,” Lutz, 78, said today in an interview at the New York auto show. “Toyota’s God-like status will never be reclaimed.” Lutz also heaped praise on the Chevrolet Equinox “The Equinox is sold out and has a transaction price $5,000 higher than the old Equinox.” Hahaha! Speaking of money: “When we can demonstrate financial success, we will regain the momentum.” and by “momentum” he means “Government can start the IPO and end this investment”. He carried on kicking Toyota: “Toyota will obviously recover, but from now on they’ll just be another one of the guys,” Lutz said. “I don’t think they’ll ever reach the exalted status of the world’s best auto company.”

I wonder if a Toyota ran over his foot when he was younger? Lutz seems to have had it in for Toyota for a while. This is the man who quite happily blamed a Toyota owned supplier for GM’s recall of 1.3 million cars (but when Toyota tried to blame CTS, they were met with scorn). Need more proof? Check out his reason for the Volt. Someone should tell loose-lips-Lulz that there are people who think that GM’s largest stockholder is behind (or at least interested in) the Toyota troubles, and that it’s not the smartest thing to attract attention to it.

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21 Comments on “Lutz Lost It: Toyota No Longer God...”

  • avatar

    As a Druid who was baptized in the blood of a tree I was ever-grateful for the faux plastic wood adorning the interior and/or exterior of numerous conveyances after the passing of the “woodies” of yore.



  • avatar

    Lutz also heaped praise on the Chevrolet Equinox “The Equinox is sold out and has a transaction price $5,000 higher than the old Equinox.”

    Again, not surprising. Unlike the old Equinox, it’s actually a competitive car and not something you buy when you get a deeper discount than you would for Ford’s Escape. Also unlike the old Equinox, it’s properly targeted at actual buyers.

    Who’d have thought: if you build a competitive product for a hot segment**, it will sell for a higher price. And he’s only been with GM since 2002! This guy Lutz, he’s a marketing genius!

    ** as opposed to a mediocre product whose only virtue is that it’s bigger than it’s competition

  • avatar

    Ohh the memories … back when I worked at AlliedSignal Bendix one of the PhD. Engineers asked us in the Lab to do a TGA-FTIR Analysis (Thermogravimetric Analysis – Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy) of the Dodge Neon front brake pads to find out what fumes were emitted when this particular formula caught fire. Who the hell is asking for this was the usual reply when some off the wall request was made. Well it turns out none other than Mr. Lutz slammed on the brakes of a Neon while going 120 mph at the Chelsea Proving Grounds thus igniting the front brake pads. As was told to us by the esteemed PhD, Lutz stepped off the Neon and say, “Find out what noxious fumes are coming of these crappy pads before someone sues us!”. As we stood there shaking our heads he added, “The guy flies around in a Russian Mig Fighter Jet, I think he wants this right-a-way”. Yes Sir Mr. Lutz, yes sir!!
    There was probably other ways to get the answer but who were we to argue.

    I always loved the old guy.

    • 0 avatar

      Well…what did you find?

    • 0 avatar

      Lutz doesn’t own a Mig. I’m not even sure there are any Migs in private hands. He owns two military jets, a Czech Albatross and a German Alpha. He’s quoted as saying that he won’t pay more than $200,000 for a car because he can buy a military jet for $500,000.

    • 0 avatar

      Ronnie: The original of the picture above is captioned:

      “Robert A. Lutz, retiring Chrysler Corporation Vice Chairman, is pictured with one of his airplanes, an Aero L-39 “Albatros” ex-Soviet jet fighter/attack. (Retired – 7/1/98)” But they are wrong, the L-39 is Czech.

      As for Migs in private hands, there are a bunch. Check our Warbird Alley. There even are some privately owned Mig 29s.

    • 0 avatar

      Bertel is very correct.

      How many MiGs would you like to own? They’re (relatively) cheap, and spares are still rather readily available. 15, 21, 29.

      Lots of them in the US, mostly licensed as experimentals.

    • 0 avatar

      Too long ago to remember what we found, and the Engineer had it half right … Fighter jet,communist block, wrong country.

  • avatar

    It’s just Maximum Bob.

    Lutz is a cheerleader/salesman cut from plaid cloth and white patent leather accessories. That’s his schtick- always has been, always will be.

    It appeals to a certain clietele, generally those who will be fascinated by a Ronco infomercial.

    His statements are like his career. If you scratch the shiny, distracting surface, you’ll find a big pile of mediocrity – from BMW onward…

    • 0 avatar

      +100 Lutz and Iacocca are cut from the same cloth. Having those two at the same company must have been like a car salesman’s convention in Vegas with the two biggest loudmouths in the room arguing about who could sell the biggest turds for the highest price.

      Makes me think of an old friend of my dad’s who was a car saleman. Old lady came in to buy a new Buick, but she had to have a hood ornament because she used it to find the shoulder line on the road. She was looking at Centurys but the only Buick with a hood ornament that year was the Park Avenue. Guess which one she drove home? The old BSer used to say things like, “The quality remains, long after the price is forgotten.”

  • avatar

    “I don’t think they’ll ever reach the exalted status of the world’s best auto company.”

    Neither will Government Motors

  • avatar

    Mr. Lutz lives in a glass house, and ought not to throw stones:

  • avatar

    So, when will GM pay back that $60 billion they took from the taxpayers? The Treasury could certainly use the money.

  • avatar

    Lutz gets a lot of criticism on TTAC, some deserved, some pretty petty. The guy says what he thinks. He also can be rather self-deprecating.

    “I have 10 ideas a minute, of which eight are bad” – Bob Lutz

    You think Akio Toyoda is more forthcoming and honest?

    • 0 avatar

      The problem is that Lutz is a senior and very public executive in what amounts to a marketing role. Loose-cannonism is not a good thing in this role. That he’s patently bad at midmarket product planning is only icing on the cake.

      There’s an old saying about any publicity being good publicity. It’s a good saying, but when you sell a product based on brand identity, bad publicity and preaching to the (increasingly small) choir is not good.

      Akio Toyoda isn’t appreciably better, but that’s ok as he’s well-suited for his role as an executive in a Japanese firm. Lutz would have been a pretty good division manager for Cadillac or Pontiac, but as Global VP for product planning or VP of Marketing his record is poor.

      There is a good way to be the kind of exective Lutz needs to be, and that’s to be someone like Steve Jobs. Lutz is just not that adroit.

    • 0 avatar


      If I just thought he was a simple klutz, perhaps I would leave him alone.

      To me his entire career indicates that it’s not that he isn’t adroit, it’s that he really believes the nonsense that he continually spouts.

      Agreed Toyoda seems to be nearing the top of his class at “what not to say” school. Don’t worry, I’m just as critical of him.

  • avatar

    I usually like/defend Lutz on this site, but he is wrong in this case. Toyota hasn’t lost its halo: That is just what the people in Fortress Detroit like to think so they can hope of a recovery. In reality, everybody knows the Toyota truobles were blown massively out of proportion by idiot drivers and bloodthirsty media hounds. And, unlike Audi, Toyota is way to big to be bullied into submission like Audi was, and when the media grappled onto the story, everybody with half a brain thought, “Haven’t we been here before? Its the Audi mess all over again! Don’t we ever learn?!?!”

    In a nutshell, Lutz is wrong this time: in the long term, the damage to Toyota’s reputation and customer base will be minimal at best.

  • avatar

    Toyota and others knew they were having issues and attempted to hide it. All Car Companies should have came forward with a full disclosures of what car were dangerous. Instead of waiting for a huge media blitz and tons of public pressure. I never seen so many car companies GM – NISSAN – TOYOTA – HYUNDAI having recalls all at the same time. I had no idea my car was affected until I looked on and found I had a bad Anti Lock control unit on my 2008 Pontiac G8 , my co workers Ford Truck had a recall also. So be careful

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