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NINETY EIGHT REGENCY

Jalopnik Interviews GM Vice-Chairman "Maximum" Bob Lutz ... No, Seriously!

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Jalopnik Interviews GM Vice-Chairman "Maximum" Bob Lutz ... No, Seriously!

One of us spent the past two days on the 'merican West Coast, in a little hamlet by the Pacific Ocean the locals call Los Angeles. There, we snuck into an exclusive "lifestyle" blogger sit-down held by the General of Motors. While normally not our cup of tea, the affair was a must-attend; we'd get to break bread and kibitz with none other than GM's man with the product plan -- the vice chairman of vocalization -- "Maximum" Bob Lutz. Seriously. We asked the man Swiss-born from jets a whole bunchload of questions on product, fuel economy, why GM must sacrifice some old Malibus and why he's excited not for a new Chevy El Camino, but rather a GMC Caballero. It was a dream come true. Now you know why they call the place La-La-Land.

Since we were out on America's left coast, the subject du jour was alternative energy. And Lutz was all for talking up GM's Volt concept car and new modular hybrid-drive platform, dubbed E-Flex. He went so far as to tell us we'll be seeing test mules of the Volt, disguised as a particular workaday sedan.

"The beginning of the next year, we'll take some cut up old Malibus, slap the battery packs in...we'll invite you people [auto journalists / bloggers / random people on the street] out there, so you'll know when we're testing them [the Volt], because we want the entire development process to be transparent."

Who knew the 'bu would be the body of choice for E-Flex?

Such "transparency" likely reflects a lesson learned from GM's putative enemies, Toyota, whose Prius has cast an environmentally conscious halo over the entire brand.

"Unfortunately when it comes to fuel economy, the Prius has shed its image on the entire product line of Toyota. So when someone buys a Sequoia, they're feeling good about the purchase because they feel like they're doing it for the environment."

The question of fuel economy is a toughie even for GM, especially given the role rear-wheel drive vehicles will play in the General's nascent lineup. So we asked Bob, What about all those rear-drive plans? He wouldn't tell us which if any vehicles have been scrapped, but he did hint at a depth of self-examination taking place at GM in the face of higher fleet-mileage standards.

"The Senate proposition of 35 mpg is impossible based on what the market's looking for. It's causing us to reassess all of the rear-wheel-drive programs and vehicles...we're even asking the question of whether they'd be able to stand the cost of a GM two-mode hybrid system."

A hybrid Camaro? What would Mark Donohue say?

Nonetheless, Maximum Bob did hold out hope one particular arrow-headed brand will be getting a wee bit more focus.

"Yes, of course there's some overlap with the Chevy SS performance group, but Pontiac...Pontiac's going to be very tightly focused, all rear-wheel drive vehicles."

What? No more "We Build Excrement!" jokes? What ever will we do? Alas, Bob was coy about other replacements to the very front-wheel drive product lineup. That got us to wondering about a product that's near and dear to every Jalopnik reader -- our beloved pickup-car utes!

So we asked Bob, What about a ute? When's it coming, when's it coming, when's it coming!?! Bob didn't oblige. He did volunteer where in the product lineup he thinks a pickup-car could fit -- and it's not where you'd think.

"A ute is a distinct possibility, if we do the ute...it could be the most enthusiast-positive decision to bring back the El Camino. But you look at their lineup and Chevy has too many vehicles. Now GMC, we could see that. You look at Pontiac, in the form of a power open bed wagon, sure...as a performance centered, sports-ute. And Ray, with GMC, you'd get...the Caballero!"

I want to make it very clear that Bob had a certain twinkle in his eye and sparkle in the voice at the mere mention of the erstwhile GMC. He mentioned the name two more times that evening, sounding more and more like a bona fide Zapatista as the night wore on.

source:

http://jalopnik.com/cars/bob-lutz/jalopnik...usly-301261.php

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"The Senate proposition of 35 mpg is impossible based on what the market's looking for. It's causing us to reassess all of the rear-wheel-drive programs and vehicles...we're even asking the question of whether they'd be able to stand the cost of a GM two-mode hybrid system."

The market didn't suddenly decide all by itself that people needed large SUVs and pickups for daily transportation. I'm sure some of it was down to something called advertising and marketing. Likewise GM could help promote new trends, and advertise sustainability as every bit as "cool" as ruggedness or toughness.

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I told you he can't break his own rule, which is, "All Trucks in BPG go to GMC", so if Chevy wasn't getting it, then it has to go to GMC. Bob and GM marketing loves the name Caballero. I tried to tell you all this weeks ago. :smilewide:

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Jacking up CAFE is a stupid proposition. Bring on Zeta... let the market decide! And I like what I hear about Pontiac.
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The market didn't suddenly decide all by itself that people needed large SUVs and pickups for daily transportation. I'm sure some of it was down to something called advertising and marketing. Likewise GM could help promote new trends, and advertise sustainability as every bit as "cool" as ruggedness or toughness.

And why not???

The market BOUGHT all those SUVs without a gun to it's head. Big Macs aren't exactly healthy for people and everyone knows it, yet I don't see McDonalds having to "force" the market to buy them through publicity.

Forced CAFE is a dumb proposition and I hope it doesn't, yet again, spoil another great comeback of the domestic industry. (Like it's halfway designed to do anyway) But then again, this is america, who ever said we were free? (Especially under Democratic leadership)

I seriously hope the Ute isn't a GMC if t's going to look just like the G8... The G8 is lame enough already, and Pontic is hurting bad enough, for GM not to botch this launch and further confuse the consumer with 2 damn cars that look the same from 2 damn divisions.

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And why not???

The market BOUGHT all those SUVs without a gun to it's head. Big Macs aren't exactly healthy for people and everyone knows it, yet I don't see McDonalds having to "force" the market to buy them through publicity.

Forced CAFE is a dumb proposition and I hope it doesn't, yet again, spoil another great comeback of the domestic industry. (Like it's halfway designed to do anyway) But then again, this is america, who ever said we were free? (Especially under Democratic leadership)

I seriously hope the Ute isn't a GMC if t's going to look just like the G8... The G8 is lame enough already, and Pontic is hurting bad enough, for GM not to botch this launch and further confuse the consumer with 2 damn cars that look the same from 2 damn divisions.

But GM doesn't see them as different divisions, to many in GM, BPG is one division. This is just the begining of how a future GM will look, since its market share has shrunk. Now how sad is that? :nono:

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Why do so many people think drivetrain layout has anything to do with fuel economy? Take a look at this:

Posted Image

GM makes two Cadillacs (one FWD, one RWD) that are nearly identical in weight and dimensions that use the same engine. The RWD one gets 2mpg better on the highway, and they both have the same city rating. You could argue that if the FWD car got a six-speed automatic, that its highway MPG rating would equal that of the RWD car. All things considered, it's a wash. So why should ANY RWD program be subject to reexamination?

RE: Pontiac Ute vs. GMC Ute - I'm starting to wonder if this is all a smokescreen, and that the reality is that the Ute is going to wind up as an El Camino. Either that, or they just don't know what to do with it yet. We've read that both Pontiac and GMC are "all but confirmed", so who knows.

I like what I just read about Pontiac. Hopefully this means that he's planning on taking every next-gen Vibe, lining them up nose to tail, and running them over with one of these:

Posted Image

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I told you he can't break his own rule, which is, "All Trucks in BPG go to GMC", so if Chevy wasn't getting it, then it has to go to GMC. Bob and GM marketing loves the name Caballero. I tried to tell you all this weeks ago. :smilewide:

But the Ute/Caballero/El Camino is not a truck. Caballero is a good marketing name, especially in a places like California and Mex--err Texas.

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The Caballero name just plain sucks - I wish I knew who the ass-monkey who came up with it was so I could go smack him. :angry:

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ALL RWD Pontiac: :wub:

We have not had an ALL RWD lineup since what... 1982 with the J-bodys?

Or was it 1979, when did the Pontiac Phoenix come out? The citation was 1979.

The Caballero name just plain sucks - I wish I knew who thw ass-monkey who came up with it was so I could go smack him. :angry:

It's not that I think Cabalero is bad, I don;t mind it, but it;s stupid to not

have an ElCamino first and foremost!!!

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The "Chevy has too many models" line is BS. And by picking GMC, GM is choosing the most expensive way to bring it to market, while limting its sales potential needlessly.

I fail to see how this is a sound decison.

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All rear-drive Pontiac ... wow ... I'm really liking the sound of a compact, rear-drive, four-seat coupe with a direct-injected turbo four and a stick. 8)

GMC Caballero? Blah. I'm with Camino on that, I hate that name. GMC Sprint sounds a lot better to me. (And, let we forget, a GMC ute is better than no ute at all. I don't think it would be that expensive anyway. I would expect a sub $25,000 base price.)

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The "Chevy has too many models" line is BS.

I dont see your point...

lets see Chevys line up

1.) Avalanche

2.) Aveo

3.) Aveo 5

4.) Cobalt Coupe

5.) Cobalt Sedan

6.) Colorodo Single Cab

7.) Colorodo Extended Cab

8.) Colorodo Crew Cab

9.) Corvette

10.) Corvette convertable

11.) Equinox

12.) Express 1500, 2500, 3500 & Extended in all 3

13.) HHR

14.) HHR panel

15.) Impala

16.) Malibu

17.) Malibu Maxx

18.) Monte Carlo

19.) Silverado 1500 single cab

20.) Silverado 2500 single cab

21.) Silverado 3500 single cab

22.) Silverado 1500 extended cab short and long bed

23.) Silverado 2500 extended cab short and long bed

24.) Silverado 3500 extended cab long bed

25.) Silverado 1500 Crew cab

26.) Silverado 1500HD Crew Cab

27.) Silverado 2500 Crew cab short and long bed

28.) Silverado 3500 crew cab long bed

29.) Suburban

30.) Tahoe

31.) Trailblazer

32.) Uplander also extended version

okay, now lets assume that there are 4 trims to each model, a LS, LT1, LT2, SS

lets also assume that each model has an average of 9 colors...

with just the bare minimum of each trim level and each color we are at 1152

but the trucks have engine options (4.3, 4.8, 5.3 (there are 4 different 5.3's), 6.0, 6.0, 6.6 dsl) , they have interior color options...

the trucks have wheel packages, short beds, standard beds, and long beds, towing packages, 4x4

all the vehicles have convience packages within each trim level...

last year chevrolet sold 2,415,428 vehicles to be sold at 4200 chevrolet dealerships... that means the average dealership sold 575 vehicles in a year... and if chevys average days in inventory is 60... which is was last month... we can only assume that they've got 1/6th of their annual sales in inventory at any given time... that means they've got 96 brand new vehicles on the lot any day of the year... is that comparable to the 1152 i decided was the bare minimum? can salesman flip a customer to a different vehicle... half the times it works, half the times it burns a customer to never come back to the dealership... is it worth that advertising money wasted, to have an insufficent suppy of vehicles?

are you not seeing how the average dealership can not maintain a good inventory, because there are too many models...

my old dealership sold approximatley 2k vehicles a year, and we could barely keep enough inventory to keep truck and suv buyers happy...

realistically you can tell chevrolet is too massive when it has specialty stores... when its got truck stores, car stores, corvette stores, fleet stores... each one of those type of stores you can expect not to find the same vehicle you would at the other... and in no where near the selection... having 31 different models you might say hey thats not that many, whats one more? using the same philosophy 9 colors and 4 trims per car model, thats 36 more cars in inventory a dealership probably should have... with lets be safe with a 20k dollar vehicle.. thats 3/4 a million dollars more in inventory... if chevy is already having selection and inventory problems, why add to the chaos?

i've seen this first hand, being at a large chevrolet dealership...

sure not all colors sell as well, and not all trims sell as well, but that doesnt mean that you need less inventory, maybe you have 2 black lt1's one with a sun roof, maybe one with chrome wheels... who knows what the customers want...

Edited by Newbiewar
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Inventory space would not be an issue because Holden can only build a few for US export anyway.

My " most expensive" characterization of badging the Ute as a GMC has nothing to do with selling price. I was talking about the need to develop a GMC nose for it: a Chevy and Pontiac version already exist and are in production.

GM has overthought this issue, the first thought was the right one: it should be a Chevy.

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Inventory space would not be an issue because Holden can only build a few for US export anyway.

My " most expensive" characterization of badging the Ute as a GMC has nothing to do with selling price. I was talking about the need to develop a GMC nose for it: a Chevy and Pontiac version already exist and are in production.

GM has overthought this issue, the first thought was the right one: it should be a Chevy.

i'm sure the reason gm is not saying chevy right now... is because it knows in a year or two, impala production will begin in north america, why tool a vehilce not slated for production a year or two in advance, even though the body is already in production?

the ute, could come from holden sure... but most likely it'll built where the impalas are already being built...

why because gm's too slow to actually just ship an already existing model over seas with just new body work... it needs to be tested, for a year or so, and kudos for that, otherwise we'd end up with cracking frames, and camshafts, unweilded stearing yokes, and suspensions that need to be corrected...

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