• Jun 2, 2006
New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman wrote an op-ed piece on Wednesday that absolutely blasted General Motors for its "Fuel Price Protection Program" in which California and Florida customers are being reimbursed for the cost of gas above $1.99/gallon for one year. Some more colorful quotes from Friedman's article include, "Is there a company more dangerous to America's future than General Motors?", as well as comparing the company to "a crack dealer looking to keep his addicts on a tight leash."
GM's product czar and media wrangler Bob Lutz takes Friedman's harshly worded editorial to task on GM's FastLane Blog pointing out that Toyota offers a larger $2,000 cash rebate on the Sequoia, which actually gets worse mileage than the Tahoe. He also points out the General's recent push into E85 territory, its industry-leading lineup of 30 mpg or better vehicles, and its commitment to hydrogen fuel cell R&D.

Lutz is at the top of his game, however, when he points out that for all the credit Toyota receives for its Prius hybrid, the Japanese company's growth over the past ten years has been fueled mainly by its expansion into truck and SUV segments. But he gets back on Toyota's good side by saying, "Don't get me wrong. Toyota's a fine company. But like GM, Toyota offers a full range of cars and trucks to satisfy all their customers across this nation."

A full range of vehicles will always include ones that get worse mileage than others, and usually the less efficient of the bunch will be trucks and SUVs. It appears to us that GM is putting the most effort into making its full-size trucks and SUVs as efficient as possible without sacrificing their purpose. For all the GM bashing we're accused of here on Autoblog, we stand with Bob on this one.

[Source: The Detroit News and GM FastLane Blog]

CORRECTION: Umm... yeah, so the editorial on GM's FastLane Blog wasn't written by Mr. Lutz but by by Steven J. Harris,
Vice President of Global Communications GM. Don't know how we missed that one, except the tone of the commentary matches some past fumings from Bob so much we just assumed, and that made an ass out of us, not  you.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 44 Comments
      • 8 Years Ago
      Generous Motors could GIVE me a car and FREE gas, and I'd still struggle with my principles(one being that anything in GM's lineup has no value to me). I have witnessed enough people get burned, taken and screwed by their GM dealers. My own 70 year old father caught his beloved Chevrolet service department F**KING him for unnecessary repairs, on top of the repairs his 40,000 dollar scrap heap was already costing his poor fixed income ass. After he catches them, they have the stones to offer him a free oil change! They honestly thought he was going to come back? Well after all, I suppose they're use to their clientele being that foolish. There is hope for some people though, like my father who has finally seen the light, and if the good lord spares him, his next vehicle will NOT be a GM. He knows what the best on the market is today and is shopping there, even if he has to pay full price for gas!
      • 8 Years Ago
      Do any of you read Friedman on a regular basis? I do, and biased is not something he is guilty of, except if you call "reason" and "pragmatism" a bias.

      This is a guy who earned his chops by being a beat reporter in Jerusalem and Lebanon and is fully versed on the impact and details of the "petro-economy".

      Why is it that anyone in the wake of 9/11 who questions or criticizes our government and it policies is unpatriotic?

      I would go back and do a little study on your founding fathers - Thomas J. was quite the little dissenter - he even wanted the US to "limit" slavery in the language of the Constitution.

      He was blasted by the landowning elite and relented. He did acknowledge that slavery would be something the country would have to pay for down the road, recognizing that hubris and blind stupidity have their costs.

      Well guy's, TJ was right and TF is right. GM along with the others is subsidizing America’s habit, addiction, love affair, whatever… with oil.

      We’re enslaving ourselves to a product that will be the ruin of our environment, enrich the most despotic and antidemocratic regimes in the worlds, and literally undercut our military in combat.

      You may tag me as a leftist Clinton voting liberal. On any given day it may true, but a more accurate assessment of my leanings is this: I want my kids to grow up in an environment where the most powerful and influential of us in government, research and manufacturing show responsibility and accountability.

      Friedman’s analogy to a drug dealer is right on, GM might as well be Jim Jones stirring up a pitcher Petroleum-Aid.

      First up for a glass will be W. and Cheney.

      Being on the campaign contributions!
      • 8 Years Ago
      to #53 Chad Snyder:
      --"Sure Toyota produces trucks and SUVs, but not nearly as many GM - still, they can't just concede a whole product segment to a competitor."--

      Right now, Toyota/Lexus makes 5 SUVs that get worse or equal mileage to a Tahoe. Even the smaller 4Runner V8 can't top it.

      --"Just because the Sequoia isn't as efficient as a similar GM vehicle doesn't mean much. Toyota doesn't make its living in the U.S. selling Sequoias. On the other hand, GM makes its living selling such gas-guzzlers, that's the important difference."--

      Maybe it's because GM's trucks and SUVs sell well. Do you honestly think Toyota wouldn't sell that many large vehicles if they could?

      --"Besides, that's just one model. Numerous studies, year after year, have clearly shown that, overall, Toyota's fleet is much more fuel efficient than GMs. So, where is this media bias?"--

      Across the entire vehicle line, yes. I guess it's easy when you're making underpowered vehicles like the Corolla. But Toyota has more than it's share of low mileage vehicles. Not just the big ones either... a 160hp tC gets lower mpg than a 174hp Cobalt 2.4, for example.

      --"After 9/11 and Katrina, President Bush asked America to conserve energy. GM's response, a new line of its biggest gas-guzzlers that have been improved to be slightly more fuel efficient. Now that's American!!!!!"--

      And Toyota, Honda, and Nissan came out with some of their worst-mileage vehicles EVER. Who's doing a better job at conservation here?

      --"Oh yeah, isn't it hilarious that most of GM's most fuel efficient vehicles aren't even produced by American workers in America?"--

      Feel free to look into the Japanese parts content of Toyota's mileage-leaders (Corolla, Yaris, xB, xA). No, go ahead. I'll wait.

      --"I want GM to survive, but the world has changed and is changing rapidly. America must change the way we drive, and GM needs to do more, much more."--

      Like what? Stop selling the vehicles that people want and buy?
      • 8 Years Ago
      Tom Friedman is a tool. A great example of a fool that marketed himself well so now people go to him as some sort of guru.
      • 8 Years Ago
      It's a rebate with a different name attached to it. Like any rebate, car, cell phone, appliance, rebates under different names have been around a long time.

      So, it's not a subsidy, it's a rebate. I don't give a rats ass and I don't think most people do if you hand them a 1,000 dollars or so in cash. Who cares how you get the dough or what you you call it?

      • 8 Years Ago
      I don't agree with subsidizing gas because it encourages more use of gas, but if Toyota had done the same promo, there would be far less criticism. And to criticize GM for its fuel economy fleet is not right. GM offers some very efficient vehicles. I wrote about their competitiveness here...

      http://uh2l.blogs.com/detroitessentials/2006/03/detroit_auto_in.html
      • 8 Years Ago
      Hmmm... I don't remember this uproar last year when Mitsubishi offered FREE GAS FOR A YEAR program. Oh, that's an import... which must have a no bash rule.
      http://www.edmunds.com/insideline/do/News/articleId=107341

      Of course few mention the promotion they're doing in E85 states: "On May 2, GM offered buyers in the Chicago, Rockford and Minneapolis-St. Paul areas $1,000 of free fuel on vehicles that burn E85, a blend of gasoline and ethanol. The promotion runs through July 31."

      It's just a sale promotion...
      The funny thing is that it's like saying to an alcoholic that the problem is that beer comes in big cans and we should blame the producers of cans (saying they are independent of the beer production) and force them to make smaller cans. That would help the alcoholic *LOL*
      • 8 Years Ago
      I am usually a GM/American car maker promoter and have to say that the GM gas subsidy idea is a horrible PR move. It really gives the impression that the GM vehicles are the worst in gas mileage, which they're not.

      Friedman is one of those guys who makes those on the left look bad by trying to show how he is smarter than everyone else.

      What world does he live in when he says: "Is there a company more dangerous to America's future than General Motors?" it shows how clueless he is to the many people employed by GM and the real scumbag companies of the US who abuse the market, their customers, or their monopoly power to make a buck. I am sure readers can think of a few.
      • 8 Years Ago
      yea.. I thought it was Steve Harris too... but whoever it was made a good point that GM is not the vilanous company that some perceive it to be...
      Micah
      • 8 Years Ago
      PEOPLE! BOB LUTZ DIDN'T SAY ANY OF THIS. READ THE LINKS -- IT WAS STEVEN HARRIS, GM'S CHIEF PR MAN!! AUTOBLOG IS MISQUOTING!
      • 8 Years Ago
      I don't agree with P.L.'s comments.

      Toyota has had a history of more fuel efficient machines simply because they haven't entered a lot of its markets until the past 10-15 years. Now that they have a full model lineup, they have plenty of gas guzzlers like any other manufacturer.

      Although, I would add that Honda has a history of really going out of its way to develop fuel efficient engines and that goes all the way back to the 70s era civics.

      • 8 Years Ago
      Re: comment #3 -- remember Rob, WE are the U.S. government, corrupt or not; you, me, everybody. If the majority of U.S. voters demanded "energy independence" and backed up those demands with actions, it would be so. Every basic environmental standard and fuel mileage standard on the books today came about only because of voter demand.
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