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NINETY EIGHT REGENCY

Customers Back, New Products Sold Out: GM's Lutz

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Customers Back, New Products Sold Out: GM's Lutz

Published: Tuesday, 30 Mar 2010 | 8:00 AM ET Text Size

By: Antonia Oprita

Web Producer, CNBC.com

General Motors' fortunes have improved, with the number of customers rising from last year and its new products moving off the lots, Bob Lutz, GM vice chairman, told CNBC Tuesday.

Dealers are reporting more traffic, while Web traffic and interest for products has risen, Lutz explained.

"It isn't super boom yet but I'd say it's 10 to 15 percent, maybe 20 percent better than last year," he told "Squawk Box."

"All of our new products are for all intents and purposes sold out," Lutz said.

Among the brands mentioned by Lutz were the Chevy Volt, which can run 40 miles on electricity and another 250 miles on gas, the Chevy Cruze, which does 40 miles per gallon on the highway and the new Chevrolet Equinox.

"Unfortunately we're short of a lot of hot products," he added.

He predicted annual US auto industry sales of between 11.5 million and 12 million for this year and an "improvement" for next year, but did not specify a figure.

Slow Recovery Better

Lutz said he doesn't like the fact that rival Ford Motor became the media's "darling" after Toyota's troubles because of the recalls, but said the fact that the US auto industry was recovering was a good thing.

"For years we trashed the domestic industry. The fact that the domestic industry is coming back I think is wonderful," he said.

Ford is also benefitting from a better image than GM because "they didn't quite hit bottom, we did" Lutz said, adding: "we'll overcome this. There's only one way to win, it's winning with product."

Lutz refused to comment on news that NASA specialists were going to test Toyota's electronics and on the Japanese company's troubles.

He said he prefers a slow recovery for the economy because in a quick one commodities and oil prices would go up, risking a slide back into recession.

"I think all of the signs we see are for a recovery that is slowly, slowly, slowly gathering momentum," Lutz said.

Credit conditions have also improved, he said.

"I don't have any real recent data, but there's plenty of credit available out there for qualified prospects, put it that way," he added.

link:

http://www.cnbc.com/id/36095852

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