It took many years to learn of former General Motors Vice Chairman Bob Lutz's "secret weapons," but the cat is out of the bag. We recently learned that those secret weapons were a quartet of auto journalists that were put on the payroll to assist GM in the product development process, and now they serve as inspiration for what's known as the 'knothole'.

In a recent interview with The Detroit Bureau, GM North America's Mark Reuss talked about this system, which drives The General's product development process. The Bureau gave Reuss the credit for creating the process, though Lutz and his band of super journos no doubt served as motivation. But the Knothole isn't just some process implemented to validate what management wants to be true. On the contrary, Reuss says products have been delayed or killed when the knothole finds them unworthy. For example, have you ever wondered why GM decided not to sell the Orlando here in the United States? Knothole. It's also why the Cruze didn't arrive Stateside when the Europeans got it. Reuss claims there were two other unmentioned models that got the ax, while others were delayed until they were ready for prime time.

So, what's the goal of the knothole? Reuss correctly points out that if a GM vehicle is merely competitive, there is no way Toyota or Honda owners will break brand loyalty. But if GM makes vehicles that are better than the competition in every way, die-hards loyalists could eventually head into GM showrooms.

[Source: The Detroit Bureau]

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