• Dec 27, 2006
When Bob Lutz became GM's car czar last year, he kept telling workers that they couldn't keep doing things the same way if they wanted different results. Seems obvious, and that philosophy is considered one of the litmus tests for being sane. Although there's still a long way to go, and GM might slip to the #2 spot in global production before it gets sorted, it seems the message is getting through.

The 2005 bankruptcy fears are gradually fading, mainly because of CEO Rick Wagoner's budget-slashing, but also due to the Lutz cheerleading that has seen good product pushed to quicker release. The new Silverado/Sierra, for instance got into showrooms a full 3 months ahead of projections and, more importantly, hit before Toyota's much-hyped Tundra.

Most analysts will tell you it's Lutz who will ultimately get GM back to form. And the reason Lutz is so important is that he recognizes that good product is the only way out. He's telling everybody who will listen that better design, higher quality interiors, and quicker concept-to-sales floor development times are what GM needs.

Follow the jump for the rest of the story.

[Source: Automotive News, sub req]



"GM has such a reputational deficit to overcome that it has to be very good for a few years before people actually get it," Lutz said in a recent interview. "When I came back to GM, the Japanese and Germans were way ahead of us in quality," he said. "And that gave everyone a bad impression, especially import owners.

"They would rent a GM car at the airport, drive it and it would be OK, but everything they looked at was gray and depressing and inexpensive looking. And they thought, 'Now I know why I'll never buy an American car, particularly not one from GM.' So we had to fix that."

And we've seen the results ourselves with cars like the Saturn Aura (and upcoming Chevy Malibu), which took the best of what GM had available globally and brought it to the States with little change. GM will now let Europe handle mid size car design and let US facilities focus on pickups and SUVs, which makes a lot of sense. Fewer platforms developed to take advantage of local knowledge and specialties.

With the pickups out already, the new Chevrolet Malibu next year, the crossovers like the GMC Acadia, Saturn Outlook and Buick Enclave, plus the Saturn Vue, Aura and Astra, along with the upcoming Cadillac CTS, it should be a good 2007 for GM.


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  • 23 Comments
      • 8 Years Ago
      I coulda told you that. GM has the advantage of its full-size pickups not being hideous like the new Tundra--just boring.
      • 8 Years Ago
      "13. Bob Putz is full of crap. I rented a Saturn at Avis a month ago and it was still a piece of junk. the interior felt flimsy and nowhere near the Japanese ones (not to mention European cars).. He can say its the design but as long as GM puts out POS malibus, saturns, cobalts, etc. they'll never regain the top."
      LOL, because people always treat rental cars as their own.
      What kind of Saturn did you rent? It was an ION or a VUE, wasn't it? The 06-07 VUE's interior is much better than it was for the 02-05 models, but there's a reason the car is getting a full redesign next year. As for the ION, well...what can we say, other than the interior has never been high quality and it's about to be dropped. It's laughable to sit there and try to talk down on the new products for the old products that are being phased out (ION production ends in March). The new Malibu, new VUE, and ION-replacing Astra come out for the 2008 model year. Like Richard Warren said above, "Get a clue."
      • 8 Years Ago
      #1:
      Lutz hasn't had a hand in any of the GM's best selling autos? You can't be that uninformed of what Lutz has done at GM, unless of course you haven't been privy to:
      The Solstice
      The Sky
      The Lucerne
      The Cobalt
      The Aura
      The G6
      The current Malibu
      The current Impala
      The upcoming Camaro and Malibu
      The revamping of Saturn as GM's North American Opel Brand
      The corporate mandate to improve GM interiors across all car lines
      The Cadillac V-Series
      The upcoming CTS productline extension

      The GTO, by the way, although not the greatest vehicle on the road, did sell to expectations and brought non-Pontiac customers into their showrooms. It was also succesful enough to warrant GM's utilization of its' Holden brand for the upcoming Impala and Grand Prix.

      I guess all of this must have slipped under your radar.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Just give me a call when

      1. The average resale value of their car is not one of the worst of the industry.

      2. When they actually turn a profit on the cars they sell.

      Autoblog => AOL. Not a good combo for critical thinking me thinks.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Couldn't think of two better men to run a major international automobile manufacturing company

      Rick Wagoner on the finance side
      and
      Bob Lutz on the car guy side.

      Things are looking pretty rosey for GM indeed!
      • 8 Years Ago
      GM deserves credit for launching far better vehicles: Tahoe, Silverado, Impala, the new Saturns, etc. They do need to work on their smalls cars as rebadged Daewoos aren't competing with the likes of Nissan, Toyotas/Scions and Hondas.
      I drive a big SUV for my business as I have to and want to. There's no reason to be a hater because someone wants to pay more for gas than you do. If I wanna buy a less fuel efficient vehicle than you do then the consequences are that I have to buy more gas. Key word: 'buy'. I purchase it!!!
      Go move to HatingEurope if you want to stone people because they drive an SUV.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Uh, no it's the drive and the illusion of quality, stupid.

      The design = worthless. Does it fell sure? Good roadfeel? Feedback? Tight chassis? Interior materials feel good?

      I buy my cars based on how they drive and feel from the INSIDE.

      Style over substance = solstice with a shoddy drivetrain, crap engine, horrible interior, bad top, zero trunk space.

      Substance over style = Miata with a great engine, slick tranny, perfect drop top, unspectacular interior and decent trunk.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Lutz still doesn't get it. Beauty needs to be more than skin deep. He shouldn't harp on things like the Solstice being the good designs that will save them. It looks sexy but is poorly engineered. It barely has a trunk, and has no trunk when you stow the roof. The roof itself is a fiddly piece of work. Opening the trunk with the roof up is a fiddly piece of work.

      Contrast with the MX-5, You can swoop the roof back in 2 seconds from the drivers seat. You can get a folding hard top that doesn't consume an inch of trunk space. That is superior design.

      The Solstice is a flash in the pan car, In two years the used market will be flooded as people realize it is poorly engineered and impractical.

      David in PA
      • 8 Years Ago
      You guys who are so blindly supportive of GM are just as annoying as those who are unreasonably critical. There are good reasons to be hopeful of GM success but there are plenty of legitimate criticisms that GM deserves. The fact is that most of us who have criticisms of GM are indeed paying attention. We’ve been paying attention for decades and all we get from GM are vehicles that fail to reach the same standards of quality of their mostly foreign competitors who are capturing larger and larger shares of the market. We all hope GM is changing and becoming more competitive but we’re also skeptical. For instance, when it comes to the very thing Lutz is talking about, better interiors, here’s what Car & Driver said about the new Saturn Aura:

      “The problem isn’t so much with the design, although the Opel interior still strikes us as the better of the two. Rather, it’s the build quality: Several parts weren’t aligned, the trunk-release button came loose from the door, plastics ranged from good (dash top) to bad (shiny door-panel grab handles with fake stitching), and mold part lines were in evidence. The word flimsy comes to mind”

      We ARE paying attention and we’re still finding plenty of evidence that GM is unwilling to build vehicles that impress us. Just once I’d love to read a review of a GM vehicle that doesn’t include the word “flimsy” or “cheap”.
      • 8 Years Ago
      "When they actually turn a profit on the cars they sell."

      They actually do, get a clue.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Wednesday - 12/27/06 - 10am

      My neighbor's brand new Impala was taken away on the back of a flatbed this morning after it failed to start with a jump by the same truck.

      Who knows what was wrong with it, but it sure had nothing to do with style.

      You know what I say about my last Chevy which happened to be a '96 Monte?

      Answer: It was my last Chevy!
      • 8 Years Ago
      "I buy my cars based on how they drive and feel from the INSIDE." - Thank you all knowing, all stupid. Oh tell us great one what car should we all be driving, what great car did you molest on the inside and actually buy?

      From those of us lucky enough to have been blessed with intelligence, thank you Mr.Lutz. Keep up the good work. We see your hard work in every new product.

      p.s.- Steve, can I buy your GXP? I can't find one around here and I want one.
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