• Apr 18, 2007
If there's one thing Mr. Bob Lutz can't be accused of, it's backing down. The Car Czar will not only tell you exactly what's on his mind, but he'll also give you a chance to change it, and then tell you what he thinks of that, as well. Tuesday, at his office, Lutz met with the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) -- the same group that recently gave Honda its fourth green award in a row and ranked GM seventh out of eight automakers reviewed -- to give them a chance to show what his company was doing wrong.

Lutz actually asked them -- or rather, challenged them -- to come by. The UCS charged that "with off-the-shelf technology, the automaker could build a minivan that would reduce tailpipe emissions by 40 percent -- and cost just $300 per vehicle." Lutz's response was: "Let them come and see us. If the technology were readily and easily available, what on earth would be our motive for withholding it?"

Lutz met with Dave Friedman, head of the UCS's Clean Vehicle Research program, for two hours. Both parties had agreed not to comment on the meeting, but "loggerheads" was the quoted result. Friedman said "we didn't change any minds," and it was left to GM spokesman Chris Preuss to perhaps say what Lutz wouldn't, remarking "The challenge with environmentalists is that there is a complete lack of business and technical experience from which they can draw conclusions . . . [but] we think the meeting was very worthwhile."

[Source: Detroit News]



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  • 26 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      #8 - exactly. If this "technology" that the UOCS is talking about is so simple, then why hasn't a company come out with it? Why doesn't a minivan from Honda or Toyota get the mileage they're talking about? The reduced tailpipe emissions? They only target GM (and the other domestics) because of their heavy sales of large trucks and SUV's. If Honda sold as many V8-powered vehicles as GM they'd be the target. When you look closely you'll see that similar vehicles from each manufacturer get very similar mpg ratings, it's only when you do something stupid like look at CAFE ratings or whole fleet ratings that you get this ridiculous bias. A Honda Pilot isn't saving the world, nor is a Toyota Sequoia, so get over it.
      • 7 Years Ago
      #11
      RWD doesn't make a car get worse mileage, but he fact that RWD vehicles weigh more than similar sized FWD models does. Not only that, but all of the RWD vehicels Lutz was refering to are large vehicles, which means they will use more gas than a car two thirds their size and will thus hurt GM's CAFE avg.
      • 7 Years Ago
      One more thing: With President Shit-for-Brains in office for another 21 months, nothing is going to change until we get a competent President of the U.S. of A.
      • 7 Years Ago
      "The challenge with environmentalists is that there is a complete lack of business and technical experience from which they can draw conclusions."

      Hmm. Wow, there's a good way to begin a rational dialog. GM, are you really so dumb as to think that your customers want to hear stuff like that? If you think that's the case with all environmentalists, then you're either pretty clueless or your definition of environmentalist is an emotionally charged, negative stereotype.

      Yep, you really know how to win customers. If I was the boss, I would fire somebody in a second for saying something so stupid.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I wish Lutz would have bitch slapped the envriomentalnuts then let Preuss have whatever was left of them.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I actually love Lutz's approach. No-nonesense, strong-headed (even boorish), yet creative. The reason why GM "isn't eco-friendly" is mainly because their more eco-friendly cars don't sell the volume that Toyota or Honda does (Camry, Civic, respectively). GM occupies a different niche, which happens to be gas guzzlers (giant trucks). If Toyota needed to make guzzlers to make money, it'd do so w/o even flinching.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Bob Lutz is becoming the Dick Cheney of the GM administration.

      I don't want to hear "can't." We're AmeriCANs, not Americants! While that does sound rather stupid, it is true. These kind of "we can't do it because of the status quo" bull is getting really tired and old. If you can't play the current game, CHANGE THE GAME!

      Think outside the box guys, not how you can change what's inside. I used to love Bob Lutz (being a Swisser myself), but he just annoys me. Like how they teased us with the G8 and then told us that they can't get the emissions right for RWD cars. How does RWD make a car get worse mileage? MAKE BETTER FREAKING ENGINES FOR GOD'S SAKE!
      • 7 Years Ago
      On one hand:
      GM is investing in mild hybrids, strong hybrids, Plug-in Hybrids, DoD, VVT, DI, HCCI, Hydrogen Fuel Cell vehicles... a huge array of fuel efficiency/CO2 reduction technologies..perhaps even more than any other automaker.....but their product mix right now is too weighted to older technology heavy SUVs/Trucks. So you hear about "Drilling in Detroit".
      In addition, this was a sub-par performance from a PR rep: "The challenge with the environmentalists is that there is a complete lack of business and technical experience from which they can draw conclusions."... This is disrespectful.. While these folks may not have the experience to understand all the complex constraints that auto engineers must deal with, it's better to assume they have their heart in the right place and the best of intentions.. and continue the dialog and not offend them. What goodwill/positive PR which might have been created by the Volt might have been lost from these comments. Why not say "it was a start of dialog, but we look forward to more meetings to cross educate and learn from each other given the complexity of the technologies and constraints"

      GM should be acknowledged for it's investments...but will deserve considerable credit only when it finally ships the reliable DI, HCCI, 2-mode Hybrids, Saturn Vue PHEV, and Chevy Volt PHEV technologies.

      In addition, there sometimes are simplifying assumptions that outsiders to an industry make given they don't have product development experience.. such as how to make carbon fibre bodies which meet crash test safety standards, at viable incremental costs, while not emitting huge amounts of CO2 in the autoclave process (check out some of carlist.com's video blogs on Bill Reinert (of Toyota) comments on Carbon Fibre from a CO2 W2W analysis

      On the other hand
      GM should provide more data/studies/insight from various sources which educate folks on why some of these ideas may not be really "off the shelf" or available for an incremental $300...and hopefully this data will be confirmed by Toyota and Honda who seem to be trusted more by some parties given their hybrid reputations. Comparisons also should be made between GM Tahoes and Toyota Sequoia SUVs to confirm the the premise that big heavy vehicles get worse gas mileage pretty much whoever makes them... Improvements can and are continuing to be made with hybridization, clean diesel, DoD, DI, VVT..etc... but it's hard to fight the laws of physics on moving large mass... smaller vehicles generally mean considerably better efficiency.

      Also, the car companies ought to come out and say that the way to most fundamentally way to reduce consumption/CO2 emissions is by changing consumer demand in vehicle sizes/weights by increasing the gas tax or introducing a carbon tax to change consumer preferences. This would drive consumer demand for vehicles with greater efficiencies and make the business case positive for greater purchase price costs to pay for efficiency technologies knowing they are saving money on gas later on. Tom LaSorda of Chrysler was the only one with the directness to say this in front of Congress last month.
      And perhaps the auto companies should sponsor a greater number of competitions (and provide base platforms and some technical/manufacturing advice) which enable groups to help prototype the technologies they are proposing... in return for rights to the technology.
      This would cross educate further.
      • 7 Years Ago
      What's in a name, environMENTAList?
      • 7 Years Ago
      I really used to respected Lutz in the past, but everytime I read a peice on GM and Lutz speaks I loose respect each time. I thought he was just the Fall guy for GM. A pretty faced Designer Guy for the public to love, but it seems that everytime he opens his clap-trap he just says the words his GM Masters want him to say. STUPID!

      GM has all the backing of the GE Empire, yet they can't do anything.
      • 7 Years Ago
      GM is working on hybrid tech with BMW and DCX. What more do these folks want?

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Two-Mode_Hybrid

      It is up to the public to decide if the long term savings is worth the initial investment.
      • 7 Years Ago
      "...."I think we will have to build a driveable vehicle" to convince GM the technology works...."

      Good luck, genius. Let us know how that works out for ya.
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