Whenever GM feels like it would benefit from a shot of straight-talkin car-guy honesty, they trot out Bob Lutz, the one man in the company who s familiar enough to average car-buying Americans who also has impeccable credibility with the enthusiast community. Understandably worried that their projected GMT-900 cash cow was going to sink beneath the waves of onrushing fuel prices, the General enlisted Lutz to get in on this newfangled podcasting thing that Steve Jobs keeps going on about. Our take after the jump.
Oof. not such a great intro. Cheeseball, bad white-boy blues music; Stevie Ray run through the blanderize filter in ProTools.
GM communications director Bill O'Neill: "When you talk about Fastlane, The Blog, you know the magic fingers of Bob Lutz. Well now we're going to put some melodic tones behind them." (Apparently, "melodic" is pronounced "mel-LOW-dic." God, 22 years of playing music and this is the first we've heard about it!) Lutz s fingers: magic. Voice: sonorous and mellifluous, not raspy from cigar smoking and jet-plane flying!)
Lutz admits that fuel economy is important! Reiterates that the full-size truck/SUV market will now top out at around 750k. Notes that GM owns about 62% of said market, which puts projected sales at around 460,000 units.
1 or 2 mpg over previous-generation trucks and SUVs! 20.1 combined fuel economy average! More safety equipment! More horsepower! To come in 07: 2-mode full-hybrid system with electric motors actually running through the trans; 25% fuel-economy boost. Highly fuel-efficient!
Chevy Ayv-ee-oh? Bob, mispronouncing your own company s products looks bad. Especially the economy cars. It makes people think you don t care about efficiency. Or the Koreans.
Bob essentially ponders, Are we spinning the media correctly? Are they getting our message? Well, seeing as you pulled your ads from the LA Times when Dan Neil dissed the G6 and you inexplicably won t give Jalopnik access to your press site, no, Bob, we d say you're not. It makes GM look like a confederacy of fraidy-cat dunces who cower petulantly in the face of educated criticism.
Bob does make a good point here; noting that SUVs aren t only for people who wanna say, "'I have one and you don't.' They genuinely need these vehicles." We personally own an SUV out of necessity. But if we hear one more soccer mom talk about how safe she feels in her SUV, reverse peristalsis will ensue. We don t feel particularly safe in a vehicle with a high center of gravity, and we d like better fuel economy, but we ve needed towing and hauling capability, and if one can only afford a single vehicle, nothing works better for that than a pickup or SUV.
Bob on his vision for GM: "Don't make 'em good enough. Don't just make 'em better than the ones that came before. Identify the elements of the best in the world and then shoot to beat everybody." Peter DeLorenzo s been saying this for years. Is it lip service? Only time will tell.
What Bob loves about posting the occasional blog: "One, the direct feedback that you get. If you get the feedback through the corporate organization, obviously it's gonna be somewhat filtered out I love getting the direct, unfiltered feedback... I also love radiating my personal opinion The press has the voice, or the media generally, but you [the automaker] don't! Unless you pay advertising. But advertising is not an efficient way to get the word out, because one, there's not enough money in the world, and two, advertising is distrusted in the sense that reader tends to say, "Oh yeah, what do you expect 'em to say?" And what did we expect you to say in this podcast, Bob? Just about what you said.
According to Bob: Bloggers are influential! We trade in "scraplets" of information? Thanks for the new addition to our Lexicon O Tha Blogosphere, Bob. And thus endeth this-here scraplet.
First Podcast With Bob Lutz [GM Fastlane Blog]
Bob Lutz Gets Vaguely Realistic About New SUV Sales [Internal]