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Lutz Talks Back I - Why don't these concepts go into production?

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Lutz Talks Back Part I
"Hey Bob...what's up with all the concept cars that never go into production"
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In the first of what promises to be several installments where Vice Chairman Bob Lutz talks face-to-face with the camera to respond to some boiling questions about the present and future of GM, its divisions, and individual products, Mr. Lutz answers the perennial question of what the heck is the deal with stunning concepts not being produced? In short summation...
  • Velite - 'Prioritized out' as a result of increased spending towards fuel-efficiency and alternative fuel/propulsion
  • Bel Air - Not a 'compellingly-beautiful car' to fund.
  • Sixteen - No. Period. From a 'public image' and 'sensitivity' standpoint - as well as recent CAFE decisions - a Sixteen would not be a 'prudent' decision.
However, Lutz did offer encouraging words that a luxury flagship is still in the cards, just do away with the expectations of sixteen-cylinder grandeur. In fact, the Chairman himself acknowledged the sub-CTS was a size Cadillac should be looking at.

Finally, Mr. Lutz reinforced the ideal that GM is the one organization that fosters more concepts to production than anyone else in the industry, mentioning the H2, Solstice, SKY, and Centieme as dream cars that became reality.

So, what do you think? Disappointed yet? I know I am, especially for my freshly-snuffed hopes of seeing Velite and Sixteen. Let Mr. Lutz know what you think by leaving a response on his blog here...
Bob Lutz Answers FastLane Questions
...and make sure you mention where you're from...Cheers and Gears! :cheers:

As mentioned above, this will be one of several video installments released by FastLane. We'll bring you the others in this series as they're released. The second video is slated to be posted in about a week.
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Oh he'll get an earful. The crap about the Sixteen is BS. It's an ultra luxury car. It doesn't have to be concerned with CAFE standards, it's buyer sure wouldn't be. You think The A8 W-12 an & series makers and owners give a rat's ass if it gets 4 mpg? Hell no. It would do wonders for their public image anyway.

The Velite...well why would we want that when we've got perfectly mediocre products in Buicks lineup like the LaCrosse and Lucerne...well we've got the Enclave...and that's...it.

Excuses, excuses, that's all it is.

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The Bel Air wasn't a "compellingly beautiful" car to fund? Since when did all of GM's cars become compellingly beautiful? The Velite was prioritized out...what a load. Back in the day Buick got all the great designs, now GM won't even give it a car to help save its stuffy image? And unless they weren't planning on pricing the Sixteen as an ultra-luxury car, I'm going to call bull$h! on the fuel economy remark...and public image? Cadillac was the standard of the world for christ's sake...where's the argument, Lutz?

Edited by AxelTheRed
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I hate to say it but I understand completely why these vehicles aren't in GMs near future. It makes so much more sense to go towards fuel efficiency then bling. Pumping serious money into alternative fuels and increasing MPG on your current cars is smart when you're really hurting for a big comeback. Pumping that same money into niche cars that appeal to enthusiasts and can only be purchased by people making more then $150,000 a year is idiotic.

Look at Ford. From the late 90s to just a couple of years ago, they spent billions of dollars creating the niche vehicles (Thunderbird, GT) when they could've spent it on improving their current lineup or adding some more cash to their future high-volume vehicles. We all know the results - Ford made less money on selling the cars then they did making and the money that wasn't spent on their important models led to the current problems Ford is experiencing.

GM is guilty of this, but at least the company is well on its way to fixing those errors like the Chevy SSR. Not the Kappa platform though. It turned out to be far more important to GM's future then previously thought with the Alpha platform being it's offspring.

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I hate to say it but I understand completely why these vehicles aren't in GMs near future. It makes so much more sense to go towards fuel efficiency then bling. Pumping serious money into alternative fuels and increasing MPG on your current cars is smart when you're really hurting for a big comeback. Pumping that same money into niche cars that appeal to enthusiasts and can only be purchased by people making more then $150,000 a year is idiotic.

Look at Ford. From the late 90s to just a couple of years ago, they spent billions of dollars creating the niche vehicles (Thunderbird, GT) when they could've spent it on improving their current lineup or adding some more cash to their future high-volume vehicles. We all know the results - Ford made less money on selling the cars then they did making and the money that wasn't spent on their important models led to the current problems Ford is experiencing.

GM is guilty of this, but at least the company is well on its way to fixing those errors like the Chevy SSR. Not the Kappa platform though. It turned out to be far more important to GM's future then previously thought with the Alpha platform being it's offspring.

I see what you're saying, but if you were to price the Sixteen at around the 6 figure mark...that's 5+ small-midsize cars. It's like selling 6 Aveos but getting brand image at the same time. They can make a profit off the Sixteen, a hefty one at that.

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I see what you're saying, but if you were to price the Sixteen at around the 6 figure mark...that's 5+ small-midsize cars. It's like selling 6 Aveos but getting brand image at the same time. They can make a profit off the Sixteen, a hefty one at that.

You're right. My guess is the Sixteen would've been around the $200,000 mark, give or take about fifty grand. No matter how posh they made it, it would've been almost impossible NOT to turn a profit.

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You're right. My guess is the Sixteen would've been around the $200,000 mark, give or take about fifty grand. No matter how posh they made it, it would've been almost impossible NOT to turn a profit.

Especially becuase so many people want it...even the Top Gear guys like it.

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In fact, the Chairman himself acknowledged the sub-CTS was a size Cadillac should be looking at.

That's just plain stupid. Why the hell would they need something smaller than the CTS? Unless the CTS is now positioned against midsized cars like the 5er and E-class and A6, which as far as I know, it isn't. The STS needs work. Hell, lets not beat around the bush, it needs a redesign. The new refresh is ok, but the interior is still nothing special. Bring over the SLS interior and call it a day. Then the STS is great. Until then, it needs work. Focus on that. The DTS is a good car, but it isn't much in terms of competing against the other full-size luxury makes. Work on a great RWD/AWD platformed full-size luxury sedan that puts all the competition in their places. Focus on that. The Escalade is fine for now. The SRX is good, but the exterior could use some updating with the more current themes. Evolve the XLR. Make it better. Make it better than an SL. Focus on doing that. Make an entry-level coupe to better compete with the 3 and G. Focus on that.

Focus on your core products and make them the best they can be. Raise your image with what you already have. Producing a sub-entry level car instead of directing all that attention towards a greater cause is just stupid. Cadillac is not yet in a place where it can decide to make a car like that (competing against what? A 1-series?). Not now. Put the attention where it is needed most. A good start with the CTS. Now focus on refining the STS. Then Develop a competent RWD full-size vehicle that puts the S-class to shame. Once you got all that going, work on variants, get those V's rolling. That can be worked on parallel to developing a good small (Z4/SLK/3er-sized(at the largest)) coupe/convertible, and then a hardtop convertible to compete against the likes of the SL. The trucks are new enough to be able to withstand some refreshes here and there without full R&D. Don't worry about them so much right now. Same goes for the small cars. A super-luxury vehicle certainly would draw attention to the brand and raise more awareness, but it would be a very expensive project to undertake and it will come in time. If anything, that should come before the small cars.

Cadillac has a good start, but get the core products established as class leading vehicles. Don't just put a little attention here and there and then go towards throwing in other models which will just take away attention from mainstay products and possibly lower brand image in the process.

Cadillac needs to become standard of the world once again. They need exclusivity and superiority before they can even begin to consider backwards thinking of "How can I make the wreath and crest affordable to the masses?" There will be a time and place for that. Until then, you want to become Standard of the World? Take a psychology lesson...a little cognitive therapy could go a long way.

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After watching the video and seeing that the Velite will NOT be happening because they wish to focus on projects such as the Volt, the E-Flex platform as a whole, hybrids and a myriad of other such fields/technologies, I'm understanding but worried at the same time. I'm beginning to wonder if there is much of a future for Buick within GM or if they're going to keep dumping all their proverbil eggs into the Cadillac and Chevrolet baskets. He says that Cadillac will definitely be getting more and Chevrolet has several things on the horizon like the Volt, Camaro, Traverse, and there talk of the NEXT Corvette already while at Buick... well... The Park Ave might be imported in limited nmbers, there might be a smaller (than the LaCrosse) Buick, etc.

I might be overreacting here, but I'm not liking how all wehear is might this, maybe that and nothing seems to really be happening ever since the Enclave has finally made it's appearance into the world. It feels a little too much like Oldsmobile a while back...

:(

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When running a corperation and doing product planning you do like you gamble with you head not your heart. [This is coming from a long suffering Browns fan].

The cars he listed were all great but GM has bigger priorities. Caddy still needs to get their hous in order yet and a 16 cylinder car while Toyota is pushing hybrids just really looks bad since GM is still not getting the press on one of theirs and they seam to not get a free pass on the SUV like toyota.

A new vialble VOlt would have a greater impact on GM as a company and I fully agree with Bob.

As for the Bel Air it was toad ugly from the start. I think the other cars they have done since hw has come has shown why it was not built. What would you rather have a Camaro or the Bel Air.

As for the Velite. It is great and good but I was a a Buick dealer and though how bad they need a new car line up and replace the two older cars they have. Buick will move and sell more 4 door sedans than any convertable or coupe. Now once they have new product in place that has revived Buicks base then revisit the Velite.

I think from What Bob has said we should all be glad that they look to have thier priorities in order. Life at a big car comapny is not about just building cool fast cars only it is about bringing affordable profiatable cars to market so they can do the cool fun cars. GM lived on Malibu's, Impala's and the like. Just look at Toyota as they are very profitable and they really do not build anything very cool. They can ands will address the cool cars again but they have been building car that sell in volume and make money like the Camry.

I know what Bob said is not the popular thing but that is part of being in charge.

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There is no reason the Sixteen skin couldn't be put on a DTS like car. Add a 6speed and appropriate interior <like the SRX and 08 CTS> and watch the people line up.

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There is no reason the Sixteen skin couldn't be put on a DTS like car. Add a 6speed and appropriate interior <like the SRX and 08 CTS> and watch the people line up.

That would make a nice car above the CTS :thumbsup:
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I never expected any of those vehicles to go to production besides the Velite...but at the same time the Velite concept has aged, GM needed to get the vehicle to the market sooner than later...I still hope whatever vehicle replaces the LaCrosse is based on the Velite, but I don't really care that the Velite isn't making it to production. It is better to have a vehicle that can draw from these vehicles and improve sales in large quantities rather than the actual concept vehicle becoming a brands halo vehicle and improve sales in small quantities...look at the Ford GT, that may be a little extreme of an example given the price and problems but its still a good representation of how not to execute a halo vehicle.

Edited by Gizhost
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Sixteen - No. Period. From a 'public image' and 'sensitivity' standpoint - as well as recent CAFE decisions - a Sixteen would not be a 'prudent' decision.

Yeah.... and THAT's why GM will remain stuck in semi-mediocrity.

No one has a pair of ballls anymore. If Bugatti can have a W16

and Maybach can make a giant twin-turbo V12 than WTF is a

production SIXTEEN so unreasonable??? <_<

This puts me in a foul mood. It's 100% Bullsh!t.

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You're right. My guess is the Sixteen would've been around the $200,000 mark, give or take about fifty grand. No matter how posh they made it, it would've been almost impossible NOT to turn a profit.

Dude, even if they cost $500,000 it would sell.

Every Rap Star, Japanese Billionare, Shiek, Wall Street Mogul,

.com-er & millionare Football/Basketball player would buy one!

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That would make a nice car above the CTS :thumbsup:

Hell yes!!!!

Chris

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Dude, even if they cost $500,000 it would sell.

Every Rap Star, Japanese Billionare, Shiek, Wall Street Mogul,

.com-er & millionare Football/Basketball player would buy one!

wooo.... perhaps you guys dont remember, that when the concept debued GM said if produced it would be the worlds most expensive vehicle... costing a little over 2 million per unit...

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Oh he'll get an earful. The crap about the Sixteen is BS. It's an ultra luxury car. It doesn't have to be concerned with CAFE standards, it's buyer sure wouldn't be. You think The A8 W-12 an & series makers and owners give a rat's ass if it gets 4 mpg? Hell no. It would do wonders for their public image anyway.

The Velite...well why would we want that when we've got perfectly mediocre products in Buicks lineup like the LaCrosse and Lucerne...well we've got the Enclave...and that's...it.

Excuses, excuses, that's all it is.

No, the owners wouldn't care. However, Cadillac's image is not good enough to sell a $300k car. It can't sell $70k STS-Vs, $80k XLRs, or $100k XLR-Vs. You want them to start selling a $300k car when they can't sell exa car priced at 1/4 of that?

You statement about the Velite is exactly the thinking that got GM in trouble. "Oh, this car is really cool, but the rest of our lineup is not very good, so let's make it and then we can have 1 good car that won't sell in high volume." GM is doing what it should do now: Before spending a large amount of money on a vehicle that is not going to sell in very big numbers, why not fix your bread and butter cars first? I'd rather see a great LaCrosse and Lucerne and no Velite than a mediocre LaX and Lucerne and a Velite. The first possibility makes a Velite-like vehicle more possible down the line. The second (yours) makes a dead Buick more possible down the line... and no Buick means no Velite.

Decisions that make business since is what it is. GM doesn't have the money to make all these expensive cars that won't sell in any volume. Chrysler didn't build the Firepower or ME412. Are those examples of excuses? No, those are also smart decisions because Chrysler doesn't have the money to build them either.

The Bel Air wasn't a "compellingly beautiful" car to fund? Since when did all of GM's cars become compellingly beautiful? The Velite was prioritized out...what a load. Back in the day Buick got all the great designs, now GM won't even give it a car to help save its stuffy image? And unless they weren't planning on pricing the Sixteen as an ultra-luxury car, I'm going to call bull&#036;h&#33; on the fuel economy remark...and public image? Cadillac was the standard of the world for christ's sake...where's the argument, Lutz?

The Bel Air was really boring, nothing special about it at all. As I said above, I'd rather see Buick get it's bread and butter stuff right before it starts making a low volume car. If the bread and butter vehicles don't sell because their funding went to building a halo, that halo won't be around long anyways, because the brand won't be around long.

I see what you're saying, but if you were to price the Sixteen at around the 6 figure mark...that's 5+ small-midsize cars. It's like selling 6 Aveos but getting brand image at the same time. They can make a profit off the Sixteen, a hefty one at that.

They would have to sell a good number of Sixteens to make a profit. Do you know how much R&D goes into an ultra-luxury vehicle? If it was made as exquisite as the concept, GM would have to sell it at about $500k for a profit to be made, I think. Last I checked, Rolls Royces were $350k. Which one do you think buyers are going to pick? Not the Sixteen.

You're right. My guess is the Sixteen would've been around the $200,000 mark, give or take about fifty grand. No matter how posh they made it, it would've been almost impossible NOT to turn a profit.

Not unless they set the sales charts on fire with it. It costs a ton of money to develop a vehicle like that and it's not cheap to produce either.

Dude, even if they cost $500,000 it would sell.

Every Rap Star, Japanese Billionare, Shiek, Wall Street Mogul,

.com-er & millionare Football/Basketball player would buy one!

No it wouldn't. The Phantom is only $350k. They'd rather "rollin' in a Rolls" than in a Cadillac.

wooo.... perhaps you guys dont remember, that when the concept debued GM said if produced it would be the worlds most expensive vehicle... costing a little over 2 million per unit...

No, the concept itself cost $2 million because it was a one-off. Even still, it would be really expensive, I think. More than the Phantom.

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That's just plain stupid. Why the hell would they need something smaller than the CTS? Unless the CTS is now positioned against midsized cars like the 5er and E-class and A6, which as far as I know, it isn't. The STS needs work. Hell, lets not beat around the bush, it needs a redesign. The new refresh is ok, but the interior is still nothing special. Bring over the SLS interior and call it a day. Then the STS is great. Until then, it needs work. Focus on that. The DTS is a good car, but it isn't much in terms of competing against the other full-size luxury makes. Work on a great RWD/AWD platformed full-size luxury sedan that puts all the competition in their places. Focus on that. The Escalade is fine for now. The SRX is good, but the exterior could use some updating with the more current themes. Evolve the XLR. Make it better. Make it better than an SL. Focus on doing that. Make an entry-level coupe to better compete with the 3 and G. Focus on that.

Focus on your core products and make them the best they can be. Raise your image with what you already have. Producing a sub-entry level car instead of directing all that attention towards a greater cause is just stupid. Cadillac is not yet in a place where it can decide to make a car like that (competing against what? A 1-series?). Not now. Put the attention where it is needed most. A good start with the CTS. Now focus on refining the STS. Then Develop a competent RWD full-size vehicle that puts the S-class to shame. Once you got all that going, work on variants, get those V's rolling. That can be worked on parallel to developing a good small (Z4/SLK/3er-sized(at the largest)) coupe/convertible, and then a hardtop convertible to compete against the likes of the SL. The trucks are new enough to be able to withstand some refreshes here and there without full R&D. Don't worry about them so much right now. Same goes for the small cars. A super-luxury vehicle certainly would draw attention to the brand and raise more awareness, but it would be a very expensive project to undertake and it will come in time. If anything, that should come before the small cars.

Cadillac has a good start, but get the core products established as class leading vehicles. Don't just put a little attention here and there and then go towards throwing in other models which will just take away attention from mainstay products and possibly lower brand image in the process.

Cadillac needs to become standard of the world once again. They need exclusivity and superiority before they can even begin to consider backwards thinking of "How can I make the wreath and crest affordable to the masses?" There will be a time and place for that. Until then, you want to become Standard of the World? Take a psychology lesson...a little cognitive therapy could go a long way.

The sub-CTS car will be a 3-Series competitor and the CTS will move up to the 5-Series class (as evidenced by the new one... I'd say the interior is very competitive for that class). The DTS/STS will be made into one model and compete against the 7-Series. Cadillac is in transition right now and that's why this idea seems sort of odd. The CTS currently competes with the 3-Series in price, so something under it suggests a $25k car; however, by the time that car is out (2011?) the CTS will have moved up a notch and the next one (around 2013?) will move into the 5er territory for good. I think there will be about 2 years where the BLS(?) and CTS cannibalize each other, but after that I think there will be a clear division.

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The sub-CTS car will be a 3-Series competitor and the CTS will move up to the 5-Series class (as evidenced by the new one... I'd say the interior is very competitive for that class). The DTS/STS will be made into one model and compete against the 7-Series. Cadillac is in transition right now and that's why this idea seems sort of odd. The CTS currently competes with the 3-Series in price, so something under it suggests a $25k car; however, by the time that car is out (2011?) the CTS will have moved up a notch and the next one (around 2013?) will move into the 5er territory for good. I think there will be about 2 years where the BLS(?) and CTS cannibalize each other, but after that I think there will be a clear division.

That's exactly what Cadillac should be doing. Hopefully the sub-CTS will be on Alpha.
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And really, to all the people saying the Sixteen(which I don't like very much anyway), Velite, and Bel Air(which would be a flop) need to be built, can you afford a $300,000+, and $40,000(Velite would be Buicks Thunderbird) cars? Forget the Bel Air, it could be $15,000 and it wouldn't sell. Or would it make more sense to fast track the Volt, which I could see selling 100,000+ of per year, or using the funds on cars that need it, like the Malibu, Impala, Astra, Cobalt? These are the cars that bring in revenue, which is where the money comes from to fund everything GM does.

Or would you like the headlines to be, GM is down 35% for sales this year, but at least they sold 200 Sixteens.

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if none of the concepts ever have a chance to be built in production.... then DON"T waste the money teasing us with the concepts. Put that 2 million into Delta or small trucks, or even to have the $1 worth more leather on the Lucerne so that all seating surfaces are leather covered.

Put that $2m into increasing capacity at the 6-speed or HF engine plants

Put $2m into advertising.

Just don't waste $2m building a concept for a car you won't build to show to people who couldn't buy it even if you built it.

There is no reason the skin of the Sixteen couldn't have gone on Sigma... or Zeta

Edited by Oldsmoboi
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Here's my question...supposedly they are wanting to build a Caddy halo car that has 12 cylinders...made by bolting 2 V6's together...how much harder would it be to bolt 2 V8's together?

If nothing else, the next STS should be as bold and elegant as the Sixteen...

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how much harder would it be to bolt 2 V8's together?

It really wouldn't be that hard, Lutz's excuse was just a cop out. The truth is that GM doesn't have the guts to do it.

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