MFG 2.0

Lutz Out At GM; Legacy "A Total Crock Of $#!%"

Just read the news that Bob Lutz, GM vice chairman and auto enthusiast, is going to retire. What's sad about it is, here's a guy that by most accounts brought a sense of focus and great feel for classic American design to GM's lines; however, every single announcement that I've read references his unfortunate comments to D Magazine last year, in which he said this (and here I quote my last post on the topic):

Global warming is a "total crock of ****." Then he added: "I'm a skeptic, not a denier. Having said that, my opinion doesn't matter."

Don't know about you, but that sounds suspiciously like denial to me, but maybe I'm misunderstanding the colloquial meaning of his colorful terminology.

He also says that hybrid cars like those made by Toyota "make no economic sense," because their price will never come down.

Unlike Mr. Lutz, I'll choose my words carefully, and say that neither I nor anyone else (much less an old-line Detroit-based car guy) can say with absolute scientific certainty whether the phenomenon popularly known as "global warming" is actually happening or not. However, at this point in the Smog Age, I don't think anyone would say that humans haven't impacted the climate -- or if they did, they'd be dipping out of Lutz's own crock.

And as I concluded at the time:

But with all due skepticism, whether or not something called/not called global warming/climate change of one form/another is/is not happening, is this really the guy that GM shareholders want behind the wheel of this (or any) company's strategic direction?

My take? We need some new drivers over at the Big 3.

I really don't care what Bob Lutz thinks about climate change. I do care that a company of which I am now an unwilling sponsor is run by smart, market-savvy executives who know what their customers want before they want it, much less know how to run a company in the new media age. As the MIT Technology Review put it today:

Lutz added, according to D, that "my opinion doesn't matter." But how could that be, with GM gearing up to woo environmentally minded consumers with advanced vehicles such as the plug-in hybrid Chevy Volt? Such comments reverberate louder still within the industry itself, signaling to junior engineers that an environment-be-damned ethic endures in Detroit's boardrooms.

It looks like a drivers seat is opening up at GM. Couldn't come a moment too soon.

TAGS: Innovation
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