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I think Bob needs a little more time to show what he can do, but agree that the promised great new cars have yet to materialize, and he should shut up about BMWs, until they're serious about spending the cash and getting it right. G6=3 Series? Damn! Give me a break! They should just work on getting G6=Corrola first. The Solstice and Sky should help, but they will take critical hits too for being over weight, underpowered, cumbersome top and little trunk. That and a roadster can only do so much for a brand. At some point the bread and butter sedans have to pick up the pace.
 

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It's not just Bob but GM tradition to introduce vehicle like the G6 and thin k they will sell like hotcakes with a mediocr 200 hp engine and all the time dangling the new 3.9 240hp GTP in front of us. I would never consider a replacement for my Grand Prix GTP that doesn't go faster.
 

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So are GM vehicles better or worse since Lutz came in? That is the only question. The conclusion of the article implies as much. He is a car guy and I would rather have a car guy running a car company than a bean counter. Personally, I would give anyone 5 years to overcome the inertia of their predecessor and the entrenched bureaucracy and to see what real changes they can achieve.

I am rooting for GM, for Lutz and for a return to the smooth, balanced, elegant styling we used to see in cars. We are not seeing it yet, but the Solstice is a start. I mostly detest Japanese car styling and design. They are OK when borrowing style (240z, original Miata), but when they try to design their own cars from scratch, they mostly look like alien to me. Is it any wonder the better looking Japanese cars come from places like the California design studios?
 

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I don't think any car company's products have been getting worse. Now the execution of some things is just puzzling. Today I'm in the middle of oil change on my daughter's Vibe and its been running rough so I want to change the plugs. I've got to remove a plastic cover to expose the coils which sit on top of the plugs. Okay, its better than dropping the engine motor mounts in a Monza, but the top plastic engine cover is held in place with two acorn nuts, one of which removed the underlying stud, duh. and two black plastic push-in screw out plugs that don't tell you unscrew them until they break off. So now Monday I've got to order two little plastic pieces. Hopefully there isn't a special wrench necessary to remove the coils. I'll let you know when I'm done.
 

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Well, from long conversations with friends that work at the General, the general consensus among mid-low level engineers and such is, without Lutz:

-The Cobalt would likely have been worse than the ION - merely another cavalier,
-The interior of the Cobalt would have been as bad or worse than ION
-Solstice? Kappa? What are those? Would have never seen the concept, even.
-The Chevy SS? What concept is that? Would have never seen that one either. Nor the Caddy Sixteen.
-GTO? Say what you want, but this is a fun car. wouldaneverhappened.com w/o Lutz
-I bet you would have still been able to buy an Aztek, though (no offense, Azteksrpurty :thumbs: )
-Every pontiac product would still be cladded in tupperware
-We'd STILL have an HHR-like PT cruiser fighter, (the suggestion to make a car unibody Delta-based platform-volume-increasing PT Cruiser fighter was actually started in motion slightly before Lutz actually came on board) but it would have been a much worse botch job... imagine an ION transformed into an interpretation of a PT cruiser, then cheapened... YIKES! AND it would have been another 2 years late...)

It's not just product that makes a success - the attitude changes my friends have witnessed at GM, emphasis on what makes a vehicle, and doing the right thing... all priceless and invaluable to the bureaucratic GM culture that existed bRL.

Some folks have told me they think Lutz is a loose cannon, but I think that may be just the price you pay for good intution. My friends also mention that they guy is not afraid to make a decision. This is a severe problem in GM - inability to decide on anything, spread the accountability, go for concensus rather than making a decision, wait for every bit of information to come in and time to run out before deciding, then make a snap, uninformed impulsive decision.

Lutz's strategy seems to be to make the decisions, execute until you hit an impossibility, then revise the decision as necessary. He's not afraid to admit a decision is wrong, change it, and move on. And the guy's got a lot of history in learning, so when you get to be his age, the decisions that are drastically wrong become less and less... He's not perfect, but he definitely gets results.

I think it's Patton who said: "A good solution applied with vigor now is better than a perfect solution applied ten minutes too late.” I think that the Lutz factor may not be a perfect solution, but it was better than where GM WAS headed.

The question, really, at hand is whether it's too little too late. I kinda think Lutz is like chemotherapy to the GM bureaucratic cancer. He may not be able to turn a multi-decade culture around in time, but what he's been able to do so far may have delayed the day that Toyota becomes no. 1 globally.

Can Lutz turn around GM? Will he be successful? I think he already has had a major effect internally. I don't know if any of the press have the capacity to understand what it's like to work either in or with a major corporation like GM. So in my and my friend's eyes, he's already been partially successful.

Besides, without him, this forum would have never had a reason to exist.
 

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Well said, Solsticeman. For too many long intervals the General has been ruled by beancounters without passion for the machines they build. It takes a balance of both the practical and the possible. Usually the car guys get so far and hit the ceiling and have to move on. Remember John Z Delorean, he was a true car guy. His problems after being gone from GM scared GM into not allowing engineers to get that high up in the company again for awhile.
 

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solsticeman said:
Some folks have told me they think Lutz is a loose cannon, but I think that may be just the price you pay for good intution. My friends also mention that they guy is not afraid to make a decision. This is a severe problem in GM - inability to decide on anything, spread the accountability, go for concensus rather than making a decision, wait for every bit of information to come in and time to run out before deciding, then make a snap, uninformed impulsive decision.

Lutz's strategy seems to be to make the decisions, execute until you hit an impossibility, then revise the decision as necessary. He's not afraid to admit a decision is wrong, change it, and move on. And the guy's got a lot of history in learning, so when you get to be his age, the decisions that are drastically wrong become less and less... He's not perfect, but he definitely gets results.
Don't think anyone could have said this better. GM and Ford both have the problem internally with waiting forever to make a decision, and act quickly at the end when the timeline is virtually impossible to manage. I haven't had the pleasure of working on too many of Lutz's babies yet, but I have seen changes that have come as a result of him being there. It's a slow change, but if he is allowed to keep doing it, I certainly think it's a great thing for GM.
 

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I generally disagree with articles like this. Although some of these cars do have Bob's stamp on them, they were still partially in development when Bob arrived at GM. For instance, he ordered some changes to the LaCrosse, so they must have had a design fairly far along even 3 years ago.

As Solsticeman said, and I think everyone would agree on, GM's new cars are vastly improved in terms of build quality and materials quality over the models they are replacing. However, the damage to GM's reputation has already been done.

Car's like the G6 are fine bread and butter automobiles. Its base engine is not the high output car enthusiasts want, but it still tops the base 4 cylinder engines in many competitors. The interior is of good quality, the exterior is somewhat Japanese looking and doesn't take many risks, but it also doesn't look bad. If it was a Honda, they would sell $300,000 of them.

However, GM's reputation is what it is, which turns off buyers before they give it a chance. A large percentage of Americans think GM makes junk, and they don't give the car a first look, much less a second look.

Its very hard to change that impression by simply making a good, mid level car that is competitive with other offerings in its class, but really does nothing exceptionally well. It doesn't stand out in any one area to get import buyers to look at GM and take notice. In fact, none of GM's bread and butter offerings do.

I think GM needs a real ground breaking car that will sell in volume. Maybe through styling such as Chrysler has done with the 300C. Or they could do it with class leading interior quality and design, or mechanically with more power, more refined engines, maybe affordable AWD. Something to give the car a real comptitive advantage.

In the end, that is really what it is about. The car's that sell the best have a competitive advantage. Be it class leading reliability, low price, features, power, styling, interiors, etc.

Maybe it is too much to expect of Bob Lutz to turn a compamy who turned out the Saturn Ion as a ground up design to be churning out a car that could truly be competitive with a BMW 3 series in just 3 years. Lutz is good at what he does, but there is no switch for him to throw at GM which would make up for the loss of good engineering and design advances they have not had over the past 20 years due to its beaurocracy.

For instance, they just discovered the liquid filled suspension bushing, which other companies (VW in particular) have been using to get a better balance between ride quality and handling ability.

IMO Lutz just needs more time. GM is now improving and progressing at a very quick rate, and they are closing the gap between them and rivals. However, it might be a little too late for them to maintain their market share lead. I don't see them turning it around quick enough to fend off the onslaught of Toyota. Then, the last question is whether they can catch up and keep pace with the imports in R&D since they are not making as much money on each car, and they are bleading a lot of red ink due to the declining market share.
 

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Fformula88 said:
...I think GM needs a real ground breaking car that will sell in volume. ...
....
:agree:
Fformula88 said:
...For instance, they just discovered the liquid filled suspension bushing, which other companies (VW in particular) have been using to get a better balance between ride quality and handling ability...
Correction, they just discovered that they can afford to implement liquid filled bushings, and that in today's market maybe they are the price of entry for "semi-premium" small cars, so they can achieve the level of ride and handling balance expected for today's market. Or, in other words, they discovered they can't NOT afford it.

See, a bean counter would hear the engineering team say "we need this macro-widget to be competitive". Then the bean counter would ask "how much"? The engineering team would say "it's $x.xx per car and $xxx,xxx.xx in tooling". To which the bean counter says, "talk to the hand. Much too expensive. We can't afford it."

Whereas Lutz might say, "how much of a difference does it really make?" The team might hem and haw and say, "well, Bob, it makes a pretty big difference...".

The difference here is Lutz would say, "show me." If the demonstration is intuitively obvious, then why would you let something the cost of a Starbuck's (trademark) Latte per produced vehicle stop you from being on par with your competitors?

That's one illustration of the difference in balanced and quick, intuitive decision making, and hand-wringing over-cost concious-partially supported conclusions.

The bean counter sees only the dollars. Lutz is teaching folks at GM, (at least it seems so) especially management, that not putting in the macro-widget may actually place you at such a disadvantage that your product is no longer competitive.

And if your "new" product is no longer competitive, you might as well just go home...
 

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solsticeman said:
:agree:

Correction, they just discovered that they can afford to implement liquid filled bushings, and that in today's market maybe they are the price of entry for "semi-premium" small cars, so they can achieve the level of ride and handling balance expected for today's market. Or, in other words, they discovered they can't NOT afford it.
Once again you beat me to the post I was going to make.

GM is all about listening to people and the market to see what is "new" out there, the problem is they ask... "how much" and if it's any higher in price than their current widget, they pass until the price comes down.

It's a shame really... because other car companies have understood that sometimes you need to spend money to make a product better. What GM has really missed is that when the other companies do spend a little to make the car better, that the perception gap between that company and GM only widens... and GM is seen as a late adopter of technology.
 
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