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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