Lutz: No Beat for the U.S., smaller CUVs on the way, Insignia stalled

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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