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The Chevrolet Volt has been a media glutton as of late, attracting more attention (and the wrong kind of it) than any one single car in quite a few years, and former GM Vice-Chairman Bob Lutz is not shy about sharing his feelings on the misinterpretation of Volt statistics in the public realm.
In his latest blog post on Forbes.com, Lutz presented some interesting Volt facts and discussed his unhappiness with the media that he believes has a politically fueled agenda when reporting on the car. The key issue in the post being the idea that all Chevy Volts are ready to spontaneously combust.
Lutz explains that Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly just two nights ago told the public once again that “several [Volts] have caught fire,” when in fact no Volt has ever caught fire in the real world, and the only three that have were a part of a carefully orchestrated test by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). “That’s the truth, whether ‘no spin O’Reilly’ likes it or not,” says Lutz after he presents his facts.
“Those who know me will vouch for my credentials as a conservative and vocal global warming skeptic. I spent 11 years as a Marine attack aviator trained and ready to take out Communists during the Cold War,” he said to prove wrong all the strong-headed right wingers by showing them that a conservative can in fact support the Volt.
The last, and seemingly most valid point in his defense of the Volt is that the Opel Ampera, the Volt’s European incarnation, was voted as European car of the year for 2012. This is the first time an American engineered and produced automobile won that distinction. It seems unlikely that a car about to burn would win such an award.
Maybe it’s because our European counterparts don’t pay attention to CNN, or the “No Spin Zone” with Bill O’Reilly.
Legendary auto executive Bob Lutz will return to General Motors as a part-time consultant, according to the automaker. “Maximum Bob” retired in May 2010 at the age of 79, but has retained a high profile in the industry ever since.
“This formalizes a relationship that’s essentially continued since he left General Motors,” GM spokesman Jay Cooney told Automotive News. Lutz was apparently consulting with GM product boss Mary Barra since January of 2011, but will now be on board officially.
Lutz had a nine year tenure at GM and is generally credited with helping navigate the company through its difficult bankruptcy. Lutz also worked at Chrysler and BMW throughout his 47 year career.
[Source: Automotive News]
Maximum Bob would have run as a Republican, under the platform of revitalizing the state’s sagging economy. But once he realized how much money is thrown at such a campaign, he abandoned the idea: he, like GM and the entire state of Michigan, was strapped for cash. Coupled with the endless meetings with advisors and a campaign trail where he’d have to both deal with journalists and kiss babies—and possibly Michael Moore—and he presumably pronounced the entire idea as a “total crock of sh-t.”
Still, it would have been amusing to see Lutz negotiate the idea of GM’s bailout against the same Republicans who rallied against it.
[Source: Automotive News]
In his book, “Car guys versus Bean Counters,” the indomitable Bob Lutz talks about many things relating to General Motors. He talks about how the company is now on track, giving credit to former CEO Ed Whitacre and his replacement Dan Akerson.
He talks about how the company went from being obsessed with numbers and statistics, to building quality cars and trucks as its number one priority.
And he also talks about the passing of GM’s late, lamented brands, Hummer, Saturn and Pontiac. While Hummer is described as being the target of left-wing activists and politically viewed as the automotive anti-Christ, even though to quote Lutz himself “an H2 doesn’t burn any more fuel than a V12 Mercedes,” he says it was too bad that Saturn didn’t make it, because GM had given the division it’s best ever lineup, with offerings like the Aura sedan and Astra hatchback.
As for Pontiac, it’s this one that he laments the most. Not only did GM’s sporty division already boast a great lineup with cars like the G8 and the Solstice, but before the decision was taken to shutter the brand, Pontiac was also working on another sporty, rear drive offering, likely based off the Alpha platform.
Unfortunately, now we’ll never know what could have emerged from the Arrowhead division and that’s just too bad. As Lutz says, “Pontiac was virtually destroyed by the fact that we had a new head of Pontiac division about every eight months, and every head had a brand-new idea for its product direction.”
Perhaps a sign of what could have been, we’re reminded of an incredible looking Pontiac coupe design model (above) that we recently stumbled upon at GM’s North Hollywood Design Studio. How cool would that have been?
[Source: Ward's Auto World]
Outspoken curmudgeon and former GM badass-in-charge Bob Lutz has been popping up from retirement, serving as a consultant to General Motors and Lotus. And his former company’s bankruptcy restructuring left the company “in good hands,” he said.
Speaking at a conference, Lutz said that the outsiders who served as CEO and CFO during the two-year restructuring had “no history of running the auto industry in the U.S. the wrong way.” And, he continued, it included the elimination of the four brands from the mothership: Hummer, Pontiac, Saturn, and Saab.
“It was the environmental anti-Christ,” Lutz admitted about Hummer. Saab was a drain on resources and only appealed to university professors, while Saturn was a sales disappointment. But—as he spoke like a true car guy—Pontiac was the one ”I personally regret went away,” said Lutz.
There’s only one solution, Lutz: screaming chickens on all future Loti.
Auto industry legend Bob Lutz may no longer be in the employ of the Big Three, but that hasn’t ever stopped “Maximum Bob” from giving his two cents on what the industry could do improve upon At the New York Auto Show, Lutz held court for a handful of journalists and expanded on what he felt were the key failures of the domestic manufacturers.
Lutz first fingered the CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) regulations for helping to give import manufacturers an advantage. While American car makers had perfected the large, rear-drive V8 formula, CAFE forced them to switch to smaller engines and front drive platforms – precisely the kind of vehicles that the Japanese automakers had perfected. Lutz also blamed the typical villains, such as the press, the UAW and foreign exchange rates, but didn’t hesitate to chastise managers of the Big Three automakers, with Lutz deriding the ”… Harvard Business School-type, profit-optimization thinking as opposed to customer excellence focus,” as a key culprit.
[Source: Automotive News]
Much of the excitement surrounding the Lotus brand as of late has been about ultra-expensive future models, but Lotus also has a fair share of excellent performance machines on offer right now. Included in that list are two new additions, the Evora S and Evora IPS, which will make their North American debut at the 2011 NY Auto Show, introduced by none other than Bob Lutz.
Since departing General Motors, Lutz has been picked up by Lotus as a part of its team of global advisors to help create the right products to achieve success.
As for the vehicles themselves, the Evora IPS (Intelligent Precision Shift) is essentially an automatic transmission version of the standard model, which sounds rather unexciting, except for the fact that it’s likely to double sales of the sports car. As for the Evora S, it gets a supercharged V6 for raising horsepower from 276 to 345-hp.
In addition Lotus will make an announcement regarding its IndyCar program.
Look for full details April 20th and find AutoGuide’s coverage of the 2011 New York Auto Show here.
GALLERY: Lotus Evora S
He has worked for all the main American car firms, and was recently also linked as an advisor to Lotus. But perhaps what he is most well-known for is putting General Motors on the right track.
While he might officially be retired, GM still wants his advice and according to reports, would like him to come in as a paid consultant.
Lutz said in a recent interview that he has “the utmost respect for the GM management. If they want me back as a consultant, I’d be very happy to consider it.”
Lutz has been credited with the development of the Chevrolet Volt, and pushing ideas such as the Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky into production. From the looks of things, the Lutz era with GM is far from over.
[Source: The Detroit News]
You’d expect that with Bob Lutz signing on with Lotus as a consultant that he’d be endlessly spouting-off about the brand’s endless possibilities and bright future. Not so.
Instead, the always candid former head of General Motors is giving the British sports car maker’s plan for the future a 60 percent chance at success. That might sound skittish at first, but taking into account the ambitious plan to build five new models in the next five years and sell between 6,000 and 7,000 cars while competing directly with Ferrari and Porsche, Lutz might still be being optimistic.
Still, Lutz approves of the Lotus plan so far, commenting in an interview with AutoCar that the new plan has a better chance of survival than if they chose to stick to the same philosophy of ultra-niche market cars. And while a lot of cash is certainly being invested into the Lotus plan, it’s not being spent frivolously. “The engineering I’ve seen so far is very good, and they’re definitely going about it the right way,” he said. “The money they’re spending on each model is only a fraction of what we’d have spent at GM on similar projects.”
As part of a major expansion plan that will see the Lotus brand leave behind its niche-market history and expand into a more mainstream automaker, Lotus is poised to sign-on two long-time industry execs: Bub Lutz and Tom Purves. Lutz needs no introduction, having worked in the auto industry most of his life, holding senior positions at Chrysler, BMW and Ford, not to mention most recently at General Motors. As for Purves, he is a recently retired BMW executive.
According to sources, Lutz has been in talks but no formal arrangement has been while, while Purves said he “would be happy” to get involved.
The move is just the latest for Lotus, which only recently hired on former Ferrari marketing boss Dany Bahar as CEO, while poaching a designer from Ferrari as well. Bahar has also brought on execs from both Porsche and Aston Martin.
In an email to Automotive News, Lotus commented that, “Our aim is to raise the Lotus brand equity back to its rightful place as it existed in the 1970s when it competed with the likes of Ferrari, Porsche or Aston Martin. Maintaining the unique Lotus DNA is crucial, but with more relevance, greater efficiency and even more sustainability than we have had in the past.”
Lotus has admitted, however, that it will look to focus more on producing technologically advanced, luxurious and upmarket sports cars at higher volumes, increasing worldwide sales from 2,500 cars to roughly 8,000 by 2015.
The first big glimpse at the future of Lotus will come at the Paris Auto Show this Fall when the British sports car maker is set to reveal an all new model, thought to be a modern version of the Esprit.
[Source: Automotive News]
Cadillac’s beautiful plug-in hybrid concept car will remain a great idea, but nothing more. According to a report by Automotive News, GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz wrote in a text message that the Converj, first shown at the Detroit Auto Show in 2009 and well-received by the media, won’t be headed for production.
Lutz wrote that, “priorities and the conviction that the Volt and Ampera will use all available capacity for years to come,” mean that the Converj project has been canceled. This comes as somewhat of a surprise, as it was thought that a higher output version of the Volt’s motor, fitted into a Cadillac, would not only be appealing to consumers, but would also make for a profitable business case. The higher profit margins and higher dollar value of a Cadillac would help cover the cost of the expensive high-technology powertrain.
Instead, Chevy and Opel will mark forward with the Volt and Ampera, while the Cadillac brand seems poised to tackle the lower end of the market, with plenty of resources being poured into the brand’s upcoming rear-drive BMW 3 Series competitor.
[Source: Automotive News via Autoblog]
Back in 1980, General Motors toyed with the idea of producing a 4-door Corvette America. A prototype was built but the project was later dropped. As absurd as the concept sounds, GM now appears to be revisiting the idea and with Porsche seeing great success with its Panamera, the 4-door Vette might very well see reality three decades later.
According to a report by Wards Automotive, news of the rebirth of the Corvette America comes from none other than soon-to-retire GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz, although its not clear that a 4-door Vette would actually wear the Corvette name. In fact, we’d think such a model would make more sense as a Cadillac, although considering the CTS-V, there might not be enough to differentiate the two.
Creating a 4-door Corvette would also allow Chevy to introduce a higher-volume V6-powered version, an idea it has debated in the past with the 2-door Corvette as a way to attract female buyers and those less interested in the car’s V8 performance and more its stylish good looks.
Aficionados of the car will no doubt have great disdain for the idea, but it may help GM reduce costs, increase profitability and offer a unique product. Would it devalue the Corvette name? Probably not, considering the Panamera doesn’t seem to have hurt the Porsche 911. Would it be hideous? Quite possibly. But again, that hasn’t seem to hamper sales of Porsche’s new 4-door.
[Source: Wards Automotive]
The small pickup truck segment seems to be a dying category, with the future of the Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon now in doubt. According to a report by PickupTrucks.com, GM’s product boss Bob Lutz has said that both models may not live on to see another generation. “It’s uncertain at this point,” he said. “They may well [go away].”
GM has yet to announce any plans for the trucks and last year it was announced that production at the Shreveport plant where the trucks are assembled would cease by 2012.
Ford has already said that it will stop production of its Ranger pickup by the end of 2011, and Dodge has decided to kill-off the Dakota pickup around the same time. Dodge is likely to replace the Dakota with a new model, however. Ford is debating several changes, with the potential to bring over the Ranger model currently overseas or offer a stripped-down version of the F-150. Currently, the only automaker having any success in the segment is Toyota with its dominant Tacoma, selling more than double the number of Rangers as last year.
Cadillac Coupe could use 350-hp Volt-style engine from XTS Platinum Concept
Cadillac reps won’t say as much, but General Motors Vice Chairman and product boss Bob Lutz has said that the Cadillac Converj will see production. Similar in many ways to the Cadillac CTS Coupe, the Converj gets more futuristic styling and is powered by a similar drivetrain to the Chevy Volt.
According to a report by InsideLine, however, Cadillac spokesman David Caldwell said no production plans have yet been made. “It’s a concept we’re excited about and is under consideration,” he said. “Nothing has been changed in terms of the way we’re working on that project. It’s still in the same realm. It’s not as if the status of that project has reached a different level.”
Cadillac and GM as a whole will have to think long and hard about its strategy for Voltec powered vehicles, although offering the expensive engines in premium priced Cadillac models would make absorbing the cost easier. It is possible, as Lutz seems to indicate, that the Voltec strategy is already decided upon, with the Converj just the first of two Cadillac concepts to feature a version of the Volt’s high-tech electric engine setup.
Most recently Cadillac unveiled the XTS Platinum Concept, which uses a 3.6-liter direct-injection V6 and an electric motor to make 350-hp. It’s possible that a similar powerplant could be used for a production version of the Converj.
If what Lutz is to be believed (remember he erroneously said the G8 would stick around as a Chevy) the Converj wouldn’t arrive for at least two years, with the Volt still not due out until the end of this year.
But... GM still open to offers
It’s been said several times before, but GM Chairman and CEO Ed Whitacre today told reporters that the company is shutting down its Swedish Saab unit. “We’re closing down Saab,” he said. “We’re winding it down.”
Recently GM hired on wind-down firm AlixPartners, but continued to say that it was evaluating proposals from several interested parties.
Whitacre today said that so far none of the proposals, which include bids by Dutch exotic car maker Spyker and investment company Genii Capital, have been any better than closing Saab.
Product boss Bob Lutz, notorious for producing quotable phrases did so again today, telling Automotive News that, “For years GM has been procrastinating when it comes to Saab. I’m glad to see that for once GM is sticking with a decision to wind something down.”
Over the 20 years that Saab has been owned by GM, not once did it turn a profit.
The wind-down will begin, however, Whitacre said GM continues to keep its eyes and ears open should a viable proposal be put in front of them. Today, Swedish newspaper Dagens Industri reported the Genii, backed by Formula One billionaire Bernie Ecclestone, will have financing arranged for a cash bit shortly.
[Source: Automotive News]
When asked if a turbocharged version of the Camaro might make it to market, GM product boss Bob Lutz said, “perhaps.” The immediate response to this is to get all excited and start saving up your pennies for the car. Then again, Lutz may have used the “perhaps” word in the same way parents do when asked: “Can I have a pony for Christmas?” In other words, it is possible, but anything is possible, so don’t bet on it.
Still, these days there’s no telling what General Motors might do and just recently at the SEMA Show, the company did display a twin-turbocharged V6 Camaro (pictured above) that was built in house and designed with the help of car guy Jay Leno. GM claims the turbocharged Camaro gets V8 power with V6 fuel economy. Chevy has already confirmed that one of the Jay Leno Camaro’s SEMA co-stars, the Camaro Synergy, will go into production.
A twin-turbo Camaro, even if it was built, would most likely not arrive until the next generation of the car. In the mean time, Lutz is dong what he’s paid the big bucks to do – get people excited about General Motors.
GALLERY: Jay Leno Twin-Turbo Camaro
Despite continued rumors to the contrary, the next iteration of the Chevrolet Impala will not be rear-wheel drive. In an interview with InsideLine, GM’s product boss Bob Lutz, definitively stated that the car will put power to the front wheels. Lutz would only give vague details about the car, which is probably all he has, considering how far away the production version is.
Earlier reports have pegged the next Impala’s launch for 2013 as a 2014 model, by which time the current vehicle will be a fossil. Lutz said the car will be larger and get more equipment but will continue to have a strong focus on fuel economy. He also said it will be designed to more competitively meet with new models like the Ford Taurus, however, by 2014, Ford is likely to have an even newer Tarus on the market.
In addition, the new Impala, which will be based on the same architecture as the upcoming Cadillac XTS flagship sedan (and built alongside that car in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada), and will be compatible with GM’s new hybrid technology. So expect hybrid versions of both the Impala and XTS.
When it launches, the Chevrolet Volt is poised to become the next Toyota Prius, the poster boy for environmentally responsible motoring. And while it might be what mother earth and the Obama Administration want, you can be sure it’s not what the 77-year-old Camaro-loving head of GM’s marketing department wants. No, Bob Lutz wants high performance vehicles and is prepared to deliver them as long as there’s demand.
Lutz has even gone so far as to explicitly state that a high-performance version of the Volt plug-in hybrid is not out of the question. In an interview with Fox News, Lutz was asked if Chevy might build a Volt SS. Lutz replied: “I would not discount that as a possibility.”
The reality of building a high performance Volt is actually very real, with the trade-off being less impressive fuel economy and range. Currently many manufacturers use conventional hybrid systems to deliver the performance of a larger engine with the fuel economy of a smaller one. One absurd example is BMW’s X6 ActiveHybrid that makes 480-hp and gets 24 mpg.
That being said, it’s more likely that a high-performance version of the Voltec powertain would be offered in the Cadillac Converj coupe, which was recently reported to be heading for production.
In the latest chapter of the ongoing sage of corporate restructuring at General Motors, the company’s head of U.S. sales has announced his resignation. Mark La Neve, who became VP of sales and marketing in 2005, has said he will leave on October 15th. La Neve’s position has been in question since industry veteran Bob Lutz was appointed head of marketing when the company emerged from bankruptcy.
“Mark’s going to join another company to pursue an interest outside the auto industry,” said company CEO Fritz Henderson.
La Neve’s departure comes as GM continues to struggle during the worst economic climate in the past several decades. For the first nine months of 2009, GM’s sales have dropped 36 percent.
Henderson commented that the company may look externally for an outside replacement for La Neve.
[Source: Automotive News]
With yesterday’s announcement of the Chevrolet Caprice police cruiser, General Motors was clear to indicate that a civilian version of the car would not be offered. According to a report by the GM know-it-alls at GMInsideNews, however, that doesn’t necessarily mean that no rear-drive full-sized sedans are coming.
With GM back on track, the company is reportedly re-examining the possibility of building one or even two vehicles on the full-sized Zeta platform. Product boss Bob Lutz is particularly interested in using the platform to underpin two new sedans: one for Chevy and one for Cadillac. GM does already have plans to build the Cadillac XTS, but it be offered as either a front-drive or all-wheel drive model, with no rear-drive option available. GMI’s sources indicate, however, that there has been considerable discussion on this topic by GM execs as many people doubt Cadillac can ever achieve top-tier luxury status without a true rear-drive S-Class/7 Series competitor. The discussion has even moved into action as several individuals within the company have been tasked with proposals for the car.
A new Caprice model in Australia is due out in 2013, so if GM does bring back a civilian Caprice or create a new rear-drive full-sized Cadillac, it would most likely have to wait until then.