• Jul 15th 2008 at 11:53AM
  • 98
General Motor's car czar, Bob Lutz, sat down with the little people of the blogosphere after GM's announcement that it would be reducing white collar expenditures by 20-percent, cutting truck production and eliminating retired health care for salaried workers over 65, all in an effort to boost its liquidity by $15 billion by the end of 2009.
Maximum Bob addressed questions about GM's entire brand portfolio, saying, "Pontiac will be nourished with products" and confirming that GM is in talks with financial institutions about HUMMER, and that, "If we could sell the brand, we'd be interested in doing that."

Predictably, much of the conversation centered on fuel efficiency and the General's plans to address the growing demand for miserly transport in the U.S. Lutz made it clear that "as fuel costs in the U.S. begin to resemble those in the rest of the world" it will be easier for GM to realign its products on a global scale.

[Photo: David McNew/Getty]

So what about the Chevy Beat? The subcompact hatch is slated to arrive in Europe next year as the Spark, replacing the vehicle that shares the same name. However, GM didn't intend for the Beat (or Spark) to be offered in the U.S., so it doesn't meet federal safety and crash standards. It would take too much money and about two years to bring the Beat up to snuff for sales in the U.S., so Lutz conceded that it wouldn't be coming to the U.S. until the next generation arrives... whenever that is.

In more unfortunate news, the Chevrolet Cruze, set to debut in Paris and with sales beginning next year in Europe, won't be replacing the Cobalt in the U.S. anytime soon. Lutz maintains that the current Cobalt is "no where near the end of its life-cycle" and that it's "finally coming into its own" in the U.S. market. When the Cruze does debut, expect an interior that's a cross between the Cobalt and the Malibu, and powered by a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-pot that will get 40+ mpg.

When asked about Saturn, Lutz was insistent that GM "likes the brand," but is concerned that the franchise isn't generating enough volume. While earlier reports suggested that Saturn would short-cycle the Aura and replace it with the Opel/Vauxhall Insignia, Lutz says that it won't be coming forthright.

When the 2008/2009 show season ramps up, expect GM to debut several new compact crossovers that are significantly smaller than the Lambda CUVs currently on sale. Lutz wouldn't elaborate on what brands would be getting these new cute 'utes, but expect them to span GM's portfolio.

On a completely unrelated tangent, Lutz divulged a few tidbits about his personal rides, which include a Saturn Sky Redline, an Aura and four (count 'em, four) Segways. Go figure...

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 7 Years Ago
      Someome please tell what the mileage rating for the Beat is. While you're at it, let me know how great it handles, how many g's does it pull; what kind of slalom time does it turn? What's the interior volume? What's the interior look like? Does it get better than the 40 MPG the Cruze is said to deliver? Does it get better than the 36MPG hwy of the current Cobalt XFE? What pricepoint does the Beat start at? Does it have the same drivetrain of the Cruze?

      'Cause from all of the posts here, it seems as though a lot of people who have never actually seen a Beat in person or even read a review of a production version, believe this thing to be sub-compact messiah.

      Other than citing that you think the Beat looks cool, someone please tell me what technical, performance and efficiency aspects of the Beat make it so great.
      • 7 Years Ago
      No beat!? Hahahhaa. God. It's like he's trying to make GM fail or something.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Honestly after looking back, the Beat news should not be a surprise.

        Read this AB post from the LA Auto Show, http://www.autoblog.com/2007/11/14/la-2007-chevy-beat-concept-tops-public-polls-and-will-go-into-p/

        Quote - "Well, more than 1.8 million people worldwide voted on GM's online survey, and one has beaten down the competition. At the 2007 LA Auto Show, Bob Lutz announced that a vehicle based on the Chevy Beat concept will go into global production outside the North America in mid-2009. Production will begin in South Korea where the car was originally created at GM's design studio in Bupyeong. GM is still undecided as to whether the Beat will be eventually sold in the United States."

        Doesn't sound like it was ever planned as a US market vehicle. Not to mention that 1.8 million votes worldwide is pretty pitiful. Even if it were 1.8 million votes in the US it would still be considered unremarkable. How many people vote on American Idol each week?

        What confuses me most about it, is that they had the triplets at 2 US Auto shows(New York and LA) with no intentions of actually bringing them here. But again, the story and press release states that it "initially" won't be offered here, not that it will never be.
        • 7 Years Ago
        NO BEAT??? WTH am I gonna replace my '99 Metro with NOW???

        Anytime I might have ever thought that GM was going to turn the corner and start using some common sense, they prove me wrong.

        At this point, they deserve to go out of business- even AMC and most of the other independents weren't THIS blazingly stupid.
        • 7 Years Ago
        I agree the Cruze not coming until 2010 is the bigger problem.

        I don't agree the Aveo is horrendous in quality or reliabilty, nor to I assume a new car made and designed by the same people as the Aveo is going to be any different in quality or reliability.

        I do prefer the Beat on looks though, so I'd like to see the Aveo replaced.
        • 7 Years Ago
        no Beat, no Cruze,...

        Why ANY car company doesnt develop global platforms now for mainstream vehicles is beyond me.

        I get big US cars and kei cars being largely geographic but a subcompact, a compact? sheesh.

        Somehow I thought he'd be taller.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Beat shmeat.... The loss of the Cruze until 2010 is the larger dose of bad news.

        The Cobalt styling looks old as dirt. How about updating the Cobalt AND bringing over the Cruze AND keeping the Aveo around.

        If we can have a dozen variations of an SUV over here I'm sure the General can manage multiple small cars.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Why would you rather have the Aveo than the Beat? The Aveo doesn't give great fuel economy, it has terrible crash safety ratings, and the quality and reliability are horrendous! The Beat should definitely be able to exceed the "standards" created by the Aveo for a GM subcompact.
        • 7 Years Ago
        @ P.V., who wrote : "The Aveo... has terrible crash safety ratings..."

        Not true. The Aveo gets 5-stars for driver side front crashes, 4 for the passenger side. In side impacts, it gets 4 stars for the driver side, only three stars for the passenger. It has a four star rollover rating that equates to only a 13% chance.

        If you're going to trash the Aveo, trash it with facts and not your un-truths and opinions.
        • 7 Years Ago
        In such a haste to respond to P.V.'s claims, I neglected to include the link proving my complaint:

        • 7 Years Ago
        Yes he want to bring the company down....
        • 7 Years Ago
        As sad and as ridiculous as this statement is......

        ...I am actually obliged to agree with you. *sad face*

        Whoever didn't put this in the product pipeline and signed off on yet another brand engineered SUV should be fired, taken out to the yard and shot with a BB gun. It's one thing to produce what's profitable when you know beyond any doubt it's going to be profitable. It's another thing to completely lack the foresight that your company will inevitably go through some hard times, particularly when you've gone through this before, and not take preemptive measures to make sure that doesn't happen. There's absolutely no excuse for this. The triplets were unveiled April 2007 at the New York International Auto Show so that people here could decide on what they liked (remember www.vote4chevrolet.com?). NOW we're figuring out that none of them were apparently either destined for production or destined for the US because it'd be "too costly" despite being built upon GM's global mini architecture? None of them were designed here (all designed in South Korea) to, according to the press release, "help Chevrolet determine U.S. market interest in the minicar segment, and which design/capability package resonates best with potential buyers."

        "Hey, let's tease our customers by showing them the concept they actually voted on in the next Transformers movie along with another of the triplets that'll more than likely never make it, get everybody riled up and pull the rug from under them! Wouldn't that be fun?!"

        Um. I guess that made sense to somebody. *shrug*
      • 7 Years Ago
      I want a small sub compact but I guess it wont be coming from GM.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Scrap every car that GM builds in North America build every car that Vauxhall and Opel build instead, include the diesel options and do this by the end of 2009. Keep building the trucks but with diesel options (the 4.5 and 2.9L), by the end of 2008.

      The old farts at GM obviously have learned nothing. Fire them all and give the guys on this blog the jobs. We could all turn GM around in a few years. As it stands now they seem to be on a fast track to bankruptcy.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Someone needs to post the "LOL WUT" pear immediately. No Beat? You kidding me?
      • 7 Years Ago
      One, did he actually say the Cruze isn't coming or did he say it wasn't replacing the Cobalt? Two entirely different things.

      Two, I like the looks of the beat, also. Funny the new Aveo5 really has simliar features in the lights. Don't they make a 3-door Aveo in every non-north-american market??? Hmmm....
      • 7 Years Ago
      Boy, we've sure never heard any of this before from GM.

      Pontiac will be nourished with product? They will nourish it with Chevy rebadges, as always.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Anybody who has watched GM since Lutz was hired know that he has brought some very nice products to the table. But unfortunately his ideas do not mesh with the current automobile/economic landscape.
      I consider myself a fairly rational, knowledgeable person. I bought a Malibu after test driving the competition. I like it and I am not easy to please. It is a good product. But it could be better. This is the problem with GM. It will not spend an extra hundred bucks to make its products best in class. WHY not?
      People write about the Cobalt as being a bad product. It is NOT bad, but another two hundred bucks up front would have made it best in class. The interior materials are NOT the best, and there is no reason why they aren't. SEATS? Ditto. Styling? The team should be designing tractors. But there is nothing that a major refresh can't fix. GM already has the right design to make the platform best in class, and that is the SS platform. THEY KNOW WHAT THEY NEED TO DO. But will Lutz do it? Chances are the answer is no. He is too busy worrying about the Camaro, about saving Pontiac, about Cadillac, about trucks. He is living in the past, and it is time for him to go. I am looking forward to the Cruze, wish the BEAT were coming here and hope GM drops Pontiac and Hummer ASAP. But first things first, Lutz's time with GM has past. It is time for him to step down. The Camaro or the G8, won't save GM, and his reluctance to get that 1.4l Cruze to the US this year, as silly as it sounds, may be the straw that breaks the back of GM.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Welcome to 2008 - where EVERY car offered for sale in the US is a good car - decent quality, good safety, good reliability, and every manufacturer has some marketing angle on incentives to lure buyers. Bottom line: If you want to win in a market like this, $100 or $200 invested in product will win a whole lot more buyers and a tremendous amount more loyalty than another $100 or $200 of cash back on the hood.

        Maybe the Malibu proves that GM is figuring this out, as it costs more than the previous generation, yet is selling with a lot less incentives. GM stepped up to better interior materials and much better styling. And the sales results show it. The real test will be in year 2, 3 and 4 for this model. Will GM follow their ugly past where they begin to 'decontent' a model over its life-cycle, while increasing the retail pricing, all while they begin to bump up incentive spending? Or will GM finally wake up and take the road traveled by Toyota and Honda and invest an extra $100 or $200 in the model each year making it better and better and continuing the sales momentum?

        Time will tell.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Chevrolet needs the Beat and Cruze in the U.S. RIGHT NOW, not in 2012.

      GM needs to bring the best small cars it can make to the U.S - the Aveo and Cobalt are not up to par.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Ah GM... tenacious as ever, tightly clutching the fleeting truck market. CUVs are fine, but they still can't competed with a similarly motivated car, so GM will always be one step behind every other automaker who gets their economic cars to market instead of pushing mini-utes.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Apparently GM is content to continue losing money and market share in the US.

      I understand the argument that the Beat and Cruze can't be prepped for US regulations midway through preproduction without considerable cost. But hell, you think SOMEONE would have had the foresight to bring it up 18 months ago.

      Looks like I'll be buying the new Mazda3 when it hits the US next year.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Wait a sec: so the Beat doesn't meet US safety standards and won't be sold here, but the Aveo/Krapos does? Come on GM! In Australia's crash tests, the Aveo was rated one of the worst cars ever tested for safety. The Beat must at least be SOMEWHAT better than that!
      While it's sad that we won't be getting the Cruze or Insignia right away, I agree that the Cobalt and Aura aren't yet nearing the end of their respective life-cycles (maybe Cobalt, but definitely not Aura).
      I hope that Pontiac is really nourished with good products as he says, because right now the only thing going for it is the G8 (and MAYBE the Solstice).
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