• Dec 2nd 2009 at 11:40AM
  • 21

Click above to view the live blog after the jump

We're here in the City of Angels to watch Fritz Henderson deliver GM's keynote address to the all us media types here at LA Auto Show. Only thing is, Fritz resigned yesterday, and for some reason interim CEO Ed Whitacre will not be delivering the keynote. Which can only mean one thing -- GM's Vice Chairman of Marketing and Communications Bob Lutz will be delivering the opening address. Are you as excited as we are? We kinda doubt it. Make the jump to read our live blog.

11:40 - Aaron Robinson made some Toyota gas-pedal jokes, Dave McCurdy explains that using less gas is good, while hurting the environment is bad. We agree!

11:41 - No sign of Lutz - yet!

11:42 - Still a little light on the Lutz. However, we get an E-offer for a 24-hour interconnection. Price? $99.99. We're going back and forth.

11:44 - Still Lutz-less, though we do wonder is Maximum Bob is backstage eating raw meat to pump himself up. Maybe.

11:45 - Here comes Lutz!

11:46 - We give Lutz a "LA Welcome." Whatever that means...

11:47 - Bob is apologizing for GM being so mum about what happened at GM yesterday. But he's not going to tell us what really happened. We laugh.

11:48 - Bob talks nice about the departed Fritz. But GM is going to stay focused on product, as is Bob's speech.

11:49 - Bob says GM has a much better foundation for success than anyone could have imagined last year.

11:50 - Less debt, less dealers, less brands and they're going to pay back the government loans. Sounds like a good place to start.

11:51 - Bob is telling cowboy jokes. No, really.

11:52 - Long cowboy jokes, as it turns out.

11:53 - General Motors will not be mentioning General Motors in any future General Motors ads. It's all about the brands.

11:54 - Despite all their awesome products, Lutz wants to talk about green technology.

11:55 - "The auto industry can no longer rely on oil for 98% of its power."

11:56 - GM's working to get China off petroleum.

11:57 - Bob's in favor of one single federal emissions standard, and while that standard is tough ("It will raise the price of a vehicle"), they are "fair."

11:58 - Lutz says there's still "gold to be mined" from the internal combustion engine, non-food sourced ethanol is promising, but really, it's all about the Volt.

12:00 - Bob drove a Volt for Thanksgiving. We really wish we'd been invited.

12:02 - The Volt's system eliminates range anxiety. Good to know.

12:04 - The Volt will have great batteries. GM considers good batteries to be a "core competency." Lutz sounds serious about this point.

12:05 - Electric motors are also a core competency. Which... makes sense.

12:06 - Get this -- Lutz just thanked Tesla for getting the Lithium Ion battery ball rolling. And sniped at others for then jumping on the bandwagon -- looking at you, Fisker.

12:07 - The Volt is going to be a "huge step" towards signifying the greening of GM.

12:08 - The Volt will first be available in California, among other markets. But they aren't announcing those markets until later. But, California is one. So take that, fly over country.

12:09 - Lutz says we're going to look back at this moment as the "tipping point" for electric vehicles and it will prove to be as momentous as the transition from horse and buddy buggy to cars.

12:10 - Speech over. Lutz is now taking questions... we'll just say that Bob didn't really put his heart into this speech. He sounded... bridled. As if he was mouthing someone else's words. Hopefully he uncorks it a little while belittling journalists answering questions.

12:13 - The Volt's battery will last ten years or 100,000 miles. Uh... right.

12:14 - A new Volt battery pack should cost about what an engine overhaul would cost. Our advice -- avoid dealers!

12:15 - The Volt has been designed for all the world's markets, but they're still going to roll the Volt out slow. Just 8,000 Volts in the first year.

12:17 - Bob Lutz does not like questions about Fritz Henderson!

12:19 - Lutz is "not talking about the high-tech electrification fanatics." We never thought he was.

12:20 - The way to electrify the infrastructure is ("sadly") a federal tax on fuel. Cheap gas means fewer electric cars.

12:22 - "Mentally" hybrids have over 35% of the market, but in reality they have less than 3%. We're really going to miss Lutz when he's gone.

12:23 - All done. Bye-bye, Bob!

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      Maximum Yutz yacking - father of the failed Merkur Division of Ford - daddy of the first generation Buick LaCrosse (he personally took credit for this with pride!) - father of the bland Buick Lucerne - father of the failed Pontiacs G3, G5, G6, and the blunder of the GTO revival and the failed in the marketplace G8. This man is an incredible resume padding fool. He has done virtually nothing in his career except take credit for other people's efforts. He arrived on the scene at Chrysler well after the cab-forward program was implemented. He has the miracle of arriving in time to take credit but has the profound lack of humility to take responsibility for failures. His eight years at GM should stand testimony that he isn't the answer to a rescue - he is fully immersed as being one of the reasons GM failed. To offer a counter view is to ignore that the head man at Ford has been at Ford less than half the time the Yutz has been at GM and the turnaround at Ford certainly makes Yutz's contribution at GM look ridiculous. Why anyone paints this brash, arrogant, blog-posting nitwit as a savior is beyond me - he was singularly responsible for INSULTING the press when they had the never to point out the basket case GM was and for lambasting the press when Yutz couldn't get the Pontiac G6 out with a complete lineup. This man is a fraud - pure and simple - a product of spin and deceit - deception - and arrogance.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Ford Explorer, BMW 3 series, Dodge Viper, the Volt, the new CTS (and friends), La Crosse, the SRX, the Cruze... yeah, Bob's an idiot.
      • 5 Years Ago
      The Volt is going to be one adults-only ride. It eliminates range anxiety, and will be the end of Prius-envy! Actually, for a green car, it is kind of hot (unlike that fig Leaf.)
      • 5 Years Ago
      how in the hell designed that logo for the LA auto show?

      i know bob lutz yada yada. but really is this from the 90's ?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Maximum Bob for President. Either Obama's job or GMs.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Horse and buddy?
      • 5 Years Ago
      The Last Hoorah!

      I am sure Maximum Bob knows now that he is walking on a very short gang plank. The purge at GM has just begun. But installing a new CEO with a new vision is an absolute priority at this point. Oh, and yes, the lucky recipient must come from outside the autoworld garage, unless... ???

      Would Jerry York be willing to step up to the throne? I hope not. He was a credible CFO at Chrysler, but as a CEO I think he would run into the same brick wall that stunned Fritz Henderson. He might make a worthy President of the company though. But then again, so would Jim Press.

      Getting back to M&A, Sergio Marchionne would be the ideal candidate, if we could only get the two parties talking again. Yes, I am solidly for the marriage of GM and Fiat/Chrysler. That is the kind of powerhouse that needs to arise out of these troubled and turbulent waters.
        • 5 Years Ago
        GM needs an outsider. While I understand they want their own Mulally, that was a once-in-a-lifetime hire. Probably not going to find that again.

        GM would be wise to find someone with automotive bona fides who can drive the change that is necessary. Probably someone in their late 40's/early 50's who can stay for the next decade and see this transformation through. Make it his vision and let him execute it.

        I've seen Wolfgang Bernhard's name bantered about. I certainly think he would be on the top of the list of people Big Ed is going to want to talk to.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Jamie: Just because VW didn't learn the lessons of GM and Ford doesn't mean it will be any more successful. GM for decades had multiple brands and eventually couldn't figure out a way to differentiate them. Ford had to sell off Mazda, Jaguar, Land Rover, and is trying to sell off Volvo. It still has no idea what to do with Lincoln and Mercury.

        VW is heading down the same path with SEAT, Skoda, and VW fighting for the same customers as well as Audi, Bentley, and Porsche all fighting for the same customers. There will eventually be too much product overlap and too little differentiation. Granted, they have a much larger price range than GM did on which to spread all those brands, so the inevitable may take longer. But make no mistake, it will happen eventually. And Peich will be long gone by then.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "I'm in no way an expert, but isn't "too many brands under one company" one of the many reasons for the fall of GM?"

        Ferdinand Piech might disagree with you. Volkswagen also has Porsche, Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, SEAT, Skoda, Scania, and MAN. This makes VW the largest automobile manufacturer in the world, and it will soon be #1 as well. Their secret is regional and exotic branding.

        Alfred Sloan established a pricing structure at GM in which (from lowest to highest priced) Chevrolet, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Buick and Cadillac—referred to as the ladder of success—did not compete with each other, and buyers could be kept in the GM "family" as their buying power and preferences changed as they aged. This worked rather well, until latter management teams messed with the overall plan. Note that GM also has a number of regional brands today like: Daewoo, Holden, Opel, Vauxhall, and Saab.

        Then of course there is the GMC, Saturn and Hummer experiments.

        So the number of brands is not the issue, but the "better management" of those brands is.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I think I'm going to get Lutz's name tattooed across my heart just for the one line about hybrids dominating the mental market with over 35%. True words.
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