Born-again GM makes first mistake on road to recovery

Why oh why is General Motors CEO Fritz Henderson pulling dinosaur Bob Lutz out of retirement and reinstating him as vice-chairman? Let’s ignore the fact that Lutz doesn’t believe man is responsible for global warming and calls talk of climate action as “a crock of shit.” But has it occurred to Fritz that Lutz, like former CEO Rick Wagoner, was one of the most powerful executives at GM during its demise into bankruptcy? Hell, why not bring back Wagoner then?

Lutz will be “responsible for all creative elements of products and customer relationships,” according to a GM release. “GM’s brands, marketing, advertising, and communications will report to Lutz for consistent messaging and results.”

No disrespect to Lutz, who certainly has a skills set that could be of some use to GM. He was the driving force behind GM’s Volt, though only pursued it with vigour after Tesla Motors came on the scene. But he’s also a guy who has dissed hybrids as making no sense, and most of his past projects have been about building more powerful, gas-guzzling vehicles, not smaller more fuel-efficient models. Lutz, 77, is arguably out of touch with the new generation of car-buyers that the new GM must tap if it hopes to regain its footing in the automotive marketplace.

By bringing Bob Lutz back, GM risks falling into the same trap that put it in hot water and eventually plunged it into bankruptcy. Since the U.S. government owns a majority of GM, I wonder what its position is on the rehiring of Lutz. What GM needs is some youth in the driver’s seat and executives that have the vision necessary to reinvent the company, not a climate-change denying auto-industry dinosaur that may end up doing more harm than good.

Personally, I’m looking forward to Magna International’s entry into the electric-car market, including its partnership with Ford and future partnerships that could bring electric-vehicle manufacturing to Canada.

6 thoughts on “Born-again GM makes first mistake on road to recovery”

  1. The first question we have to ask is about honesty ? In Fairhaven Massachusetts a wind turbine failed at the intersection of Rte 240 and Rte 195 .This would you think be news worthy but in the southeastern part of Massachusetts refered to by local politicians as the Bijou of New England it gets no attention at all . The newspaper only prints good stories called “puff stories ” about wind turbines. If you think I am kidding google ” Howland Turbine Attorney General ” . If the country is going to go forward with renewable energy the states need to be up front and honest and not have the state representatives in the wind turbine business !

  2. Why doesn’t GM just buy Tesla Motors ? Also, why is Gm putting the ugly logo on the chevy volt when it’s suppose to be a new innovative car but with same ugly log ?

  3. Yup. I have no confidence in GM’s lasting power. They’ve already shown that they’re incapable of producing decent quality vehicles, whether you’re comparing them to the NA or Asian competition. I’d have let the company collapse and offered those (conditional) government loans to its competitors to snatch up its assets in a firesale.

  4. You’re being a little unfair to Bob Lutz guys- wherever he has been, that car company has prospered. And GM’s quality has greatly improved over the last few years- check out the various consumer magazines and sites on this. And some of credit for this quality-upgrade goes to Lutz. And while you can debate some of his preferences for cars (loud and large;-), it does not mean that he is wrong about what a large chunk of car buyers in the US want, and have wanted. There is a reason that the best-selling automobile in the US, until 2 years ago, was a truck.

    What will drive the sales of small cars is not a desire of most Americans to conserve fuel- it will be the high price of that fuel. And when the price of fuel goes down, so does the appeal of small, fuel-efficient cars. This pattern has been repeated over and over. And, while I am hopeful that people can be educated and persuaded to make a change, and not just because of the price of gas, most will not change very quickly. And even then, once Batteries have gotten lighter, more energy-dense and cheaper, you will see a return of large, fast cars, SUV’s and pick-up trucks.

    And whatever his inspiration or motivation, Bob is the father of the Chevy Volt, which has jump-started EV projects from every other car manufacturer. Besides- without Bob, where would we get all these outrageous quotes to bandy about;-)

  5. To understand the reinstatment of Bob Lutz, you must read his bio. He is being reinstated because he is good, damn good. While Wagner spent his career within the GM culture and was a perpetuator of the old GM culture, Lutz has been a top executive for many of the best automakers in the world. He understand how GM works and how many of the other automakers work. He knows what works amoung the best automakers in the world.

    Lutz is likely the only executive in the world that under stand all of how GM works, how other auto makers work, and the auto industry as a whole. Lutz was brought into GM from outside to turn GM around. Lutz was responsible for GM making major improvements in quality, cost savings and a wave of new world class products. Lutz’s plan was working until the economic downturn hit.

    Since GM’s new chairman knows nothing at all about the auto industry, he will need someone under him to explain how things work. This someone is Bob Luts.

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