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Lutz talks about Toyota's woes -- very carefully

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Lutz talks about Toyota's woes -- very carefully

GM vice chairman says Tiger Woods sold few cars for Buick



ORLANDO – General Motors Vice Chairman Bob Lutz had one piece of advice for Toyota executives who are being called before Congress over the Japanese automaker’s recalls tied to unintended acceleration.

“Be prepared for an unpleasant experience,” he said today on the sidelines of the J.D. Power and Associates 2010 Automotive Roundtable.

The forum is being held in advance of the National Automobile Dealers Association annual convention.

Lutz, who spoke at the roundtable event, tried to avoid talking about competitor Toyota.

“We’ve been carefully briefed to stay away from any pronouncements about our No. 1 Japanese competitor. Sorry about that. See me privately,” he said to the audience, which erupted in laughter.

Instead, Lutz focused his speech on GM’s improved position. A year ago, the Detroit automaker was struggling to stay afloat on government assistance. GM eventually went through government-backed bankruptcy reorganization.

Lutz highlighted the improved vehicles GM is making, and the high consumer demand for recently launched GM vehicles, such as the Chevrolet Equinox crossover.

Lutz told the Free Press in an interview that he doesn’t want people to think GM’s new success has anything to do with Toyota’s stumble.

“The huge rise in purchase intent for all of our new stuff really started in September,” he said. “One of my worries is that people are going to say, ‘Hey look how well GM is doing — this couldn’t have happened without the Toyota (recalls).’ That demeans our accomplishments.”

During a question-and-answer session at the roundtable event, Lutz also surprisingly suggested that golfer Tiger Woods did not help Buick sell any vehicles when he starred in the brand’s commercials.

Buick’s relationship with Woods, who was the face of the brand for nine years, ended in 2008, prior to Woods’ recent troubles. Woods has been in the news after he crashed his Cadillac at his Orlando home last November and his marital problems came to light.

At the time GM's relationship with Woods ended, the automaker explained that it needed to save money and Woods needed more personal time.

“We never got much value out of him,” Lutz said.

He later told reporters that GM could be partly to blame for not having Woods say the right things.



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