Lutz Can Be Such a Putz …

General Motors’ Vice-Chairman Bob Lutz truly does not seem to enjoy being called out when he says absurdities.  There was a recent brouhaha over his  calling Global Warming a “total crock of s–t” in a meeting with reporters.  As the man seemingly converted, the driving force behind the Chevy Volt (a plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHEV) that could, quite literally, change the nation), some of his discussion, some of his focus seems determined to undermined the public support of developments in the PHEV world.

When speaking of the Volt, Lutz says things like this:

The Chevrolet Volt program is occurring under my personal watch, because I — and others in senior management — believe in it. I fully expect that it will revolutionize the automotive industry, and I’m committed to seeing it successfully developed and in showrooms. 

“Believe in it … revolutionize … committed …”  Frank certainly gives us words to believe beyond the “commitment”, but to see this as a passion of his.

But, is anyone else perplexed that someone so impassioned about the possibilities of this revolutionary advance spends so many words talking, with virtually a wistful and mournful tone, about how current gas guzzlers might not be around in the face of corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standard increases?

From the New York Auto Show, where Volt Nation occurred, comes commentary like this

“We’re going to have to sell a ton of hybrids whether people want them or not,”

Doesn’t this sound like “Okay, going to shove this down your throats people, even though I sort of doubt that this is something that you’re going to want me to do …” 

Lutz told Bloomberg News … that the new fuel economy standards are “basically going to result in the quasi-disappearance of V-8 engines.”

Is that a bad thing?  Hmmm … Why do we have so many V-8s (other than for drinking) other than due to massive advertising from GM and other car manufacturers?  Hemi anyone? (As per Dodge Hemi at No Extra Charge (except those gas bills …)   Yes, there are people and uses that might require the power represented by a Hemi and by a V-8.  What fraction of the actual sales is represented by that requirement?

Now, the restriction of American freedom to choose would be screamed to by those, evidently like Frank “the Putz” Lutz, who are trying to continue America’s profligate oil substance abuse problem. 

Let us postulate something: If Frank were so enthusiastic, so supportive of the power of the Volt and of the entire E-Flex drivetrain, wouldn’t he speaking differently?  Wouldn’t he speaking with enthusiasm about the new world of options and choices being opened to the American consumer? Of opportunities being created for ever better transportation choices? About how GM is opening a revolution of choices for the US and global transportation system?  About how GM is paving a path for reducing global dependency on oil?   Wouldn’t he?

Instead, Frank “the Putz” Lutz seems to speak of this automotive future in almost mournful terms, in how choices will be constrained and things lost.  Is that how a visionary speaks?


2 responses to “Lutz Can Be Such a Putz …

  1. I know I have “trust issues,” so maybe that’s behind my suspicion about GM’s commitment to the Volt or any alternative-fuel vehicle. But really, GM was the company that produced the EV-1 while simultaneously working to eliminate California’s zero-emissions vehicle law so they would be able to *stop* producing it — so I’m having a hard time believing that *now* they’re all that enthusiastic about alternative-fuel vehicles, even as they come out with this new one. Lutz’s comments of regret about the ongoing viability of big gasoline engines strike me as leaks of his true feelings — he says the things he needs to say in support of the Volt, but it’s just so much empty PR jargon. Could the American auto industry be any more conservative?

  2. Not to ignore the main story here, but there’s even more to the “massive advertising” story by Chrysler of the hemi-head design, in that the hemi is a terribly inefficient, low-tech, out-dated design. Not a single race engine in any motorsport uses a hemi design. Yet, ask the average American, and they will tell you just the opposite.

    That’s the kind of ignorance that continues to be the biggest obstacle to change in our energy policies.

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