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GM’s Lutz is nuts. His PR guy ain’t much sharper.

By Joe Romm on September 22, 2008 at 7:47 pm

"GM’s Lutz is nuts. His PR guy ain’t much sharper."

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http://www.mzb-group.com/commons/imgsUpl/2/mzb/br_chock.gifWhen we last left GM Vice Chair Bob Lutz, he had dismissed global warming as a “total crock of shit” (see “General Motors is full of crocks“). That would be Vice Chair of Global Product Development, not, say, a finance or sales guy, but somebody who is in charge of scientists, engineers, technicians, and oh, I don’t know, the entire future product line of the largest U.S. automaker.

So this bastion of good judgment goes on cable TV’s leading ridicule-fest, The Colbert Report — justification enough to fire him for cause — to plug the Volt, as it were, and goes Cro-Magnon again:

NUTS LUTZ: I accept that the planet is heated, but like many noted scientists, I don’t believe in the CO2 theory.
COLBERT COLBERT: … It’s just sunspot activity.
NUTS LUTZ: In the opinion of about 32,000 of the world’s leading scientists, yes.

Well, I accept that Lutz is a human being, but like many noted scientists, I don’t believes he is evidence of the evolution theory.

Anyway, responding to a piece on Huffingtonpost by Josh Nelson, “General Motors Executive Doesn’t Recognize Global Warming as Fact — He Should Be Fired,” GM’s Director of News Relations, Tom Wilkinson, had this helpful comment:

Increased energy efficiency and reduced petroleum use are desirable for a lot of reasons. There is no reason a three-dimensional human being (like Bob Lutz) can’t be skeptical about global warming orthodoxy and still be wildly passionate about more efficient vehicles. Which he is, by the way.As for GM policy, it is set by a board of directors and a senior leadership group, not by one individual. And you might be surprised to find that dissenting voices are welcome within GM. In fact, they are encouraged.

A few of these comments also ring of age discrimination — not so good…

GM is as transparent as any company about what it is and isn’t doing in the environmental area. So if you are interested in looking beyond your biases, please visit our media site: http://media.gm.com/us/gm/en/.

So anti-scientific voices are welcome within GM. Racists and sexists, too? Yes, wouldn’t want to discriminate against out-of-touch idiots. And I agree the commenters who called Lutz an “old geezer”or an “old stodgy businessman.” Oops, was that agist of me? But wait, Wilkinson might be surprised to find that dissenting voices against stupidity at any age are what the blogosphere is all about.

Anyone who buys into the long debunked sunspot nonsense is not a three-dimensional person, but a one-dimensional cartoon (see “Fred Thompson, Global Warming Denier and Sun Worshiper“). As for the 32,000 scientists nonsense, see A. Siegel’s “Lutz remains a Putz on Global Warming denial“). Lutz should be kept far, far away from any executive decisions at a major technology-based company.

Oh and anybody who thinks GM is transparent about what it is and isn’t doing in the environmental area — like, say, being the leading funder of efforts to block higher fuel economy standards — well, I have some sunspots I’d like to sell you (see “Thumbs up for Pelosi, Dingell, Nissan. Thumbs down for Toyota, GM, Ford, Washington Post” and “Live Greenwash, Go Yellow“).

[By the way, all the eco-conscious women who read this blog should be sure to watch the video until the end. It will make your day.]

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24 Responses to GM’s Lutz is nuts. His PR guy ain’t much sharper.

  1. charlie says:

    I agree. Fire Lutz. And knife his baby — the Volt — on the way out.

  2. Brian D says:

    Interestingly, he evidently hasn’t even read the petition he cited. The petition itself says absolutely nothing about sunspots. In much the same way that it says nothing about the IPCC or similar, it’s being misrepresented here by someone who is impressed with big numbers.

  3. paulm says:

    He’s been fed too much genetically engineered meat stuffed with steroids. It also seem like he is suffering PTSD – probably due to the decimation of GM by the Japanese.

  4. Greg says:

    Don’t forget that GM is still predominantly in the business of selling low-mpg guzzlers, and will be for at least another decade. Lutz still needs credibility in the eyes of the anti-GW petrol-heads that are his customers. He’s likely very concerned about brand identity.

    Any “Green” car that GM produces will market itself based on mpg – he just needs to make some noise – which is exactly what he’s done.

    It’s tragic that he’s come so far out of the sceptic closet – but I’m not surprised. What I would like to know if this is all just marketing and positioning – or if those are actually his personal opinions.

  5. Don says:

    I guess it’s time to bash GM and it’s executives. With the internet that is easy to do by any idiots. For your information, Bob Lutz is a lot smarter than any who criticized him. Wake up America! Stop putting down people who are not deserving of such treatment.

  6. Dennis says:

    What more could we expect from GM? Lutz & Co. will come up with the car we need — a plug in — and manage to make it not work because of their incompetence. They will screw up the engineering just like they cannot (or wil not) read scientific facts. We’ll all be driving PEHV’s in a few years — but they will be made in Japan.

  7. Cyril R. says:

    So if not CO2 how does Lutz propose to explain the extremely high temperatures on Venus?

    Also, there are no ‘leading climate scientists’ which fully attribute the observed temperatures to sunspot activity. I know because I have access to academic peer reviewed articles from various sources.

  8. Greg says:

    I fundamentally disagree, Joe. Maybe it’s weird and slightly embarrassing that he doesn’t “believe in” global warming. But look at what he’s actually DOING: he’s single-handedly spearheading the development of the only mass-market electric car that can begin to wean us off oil, and teach the rest of the industry a lesson in the meantime. He’s motivated by oil independence, but so what? That’s a worthy cause, too.

  9. Dano says:

    What Greg said.

    At any rate, having grown up in Detroit and lived the dream of daddy GM setting Murrica’s agenda in the papers twice a day, I can comfortably state that many good minds have fled GM and what has filled in the vacuum leaves a lot to be desired.

    Second, anyone using the OISM petition is an idiot with regard to science. Period. But I’m glad they’re trying out this car.

    Best,

    D

  10. TomG says:

    Lutz has been wrong before and has openly admitted it…
    When he was with Chrysler in 1987 he was “lukewarm” to that company purchasing American Motors.
    It was one of the best things Chrysler ever did.
    He admits this in his book “Guts”…(page 31).
    With this in mind, I’m very disappointed with his thinking on GW.
    The man has forgotten that he can be wrong.
    As far as the Volt is concerned…it’s priced way out of reach for me.

  11. Bob Wallace says:

    Don – Lutz might be smart, but is he getting the ‘straight stuff’ from those around him?

    If none of his assistants has pointed out that the “32,000 scientists” stuff is bogus what else aren’t they telling him?

  12. Earl Killian says:

    TomG wrote, “As far as the Volt is concerned…it’s priced way out of reach for me.

    It is important not to think of the Volt as the only PHEV either from GM or from the rest of the industry. There are many design points. The Volt is one. Other design points will have lower up-front costs, but higher fuel costs. Over time, the Volt design point will have lower and lower up-front costs as well. Don’t get too hung up by the price of the Volt on day 1.

  13. Earl Killian says:

    Greg wrote, “he’s single-handedly spearheading the development of the only mass-market electric car that can begin to wean us off oil

    You mean at GM. The rest of the industry is moving quite rapidly in that direction. Mitsubishi, VW, Subaru, BMW, Nissan, Renault, Mercedes, and Toyota are all planning either BEVs, PHEVs, or both. Other companies have prototypes and concept cars (e.g. Volvo, Mazda, Ford, Audi). It is true that the Volt is one of the most interesting PHEVs planned, but there is a lot going on not associated with Lutz. On top of that, there are startups galore now too with planned products. It will be crowded out there in 2011.

  14. Bob Wallace says:

    Even Chrysler…

    Planning on marketing some electrics in 2010. Including a 40 mile range Volt-type Jeep.

    http://www.cnbc.com/id/26850309

  15. hapa says:

    a hint at how GM got itself in trouble: lutz’s description of the volt’s engine as “tiny.” in other countries, 1.4L is somewhere in the middle. i’m sure mr lutz knows that. GM does sell cars elsewhere. but here, where the fix is in, he can let his hair down.

  16. Bob Wallace says:

    For several decades I’ve felt that GM, Ford and Chrysler caused themselves major problems by being located in the Upper Midwest.

    I’ve lived there, I’ve lived in Florida, and I live in California. Along the coasts, where the majority of Americans live, what one wants from a car is different than if you live in less-densely populated, flat places with brutal winters.

    Additionally, cultural changes tend to start along the coasts and gradually spread inland. These guys live where they are in danger of being a couple of years behind change. By the time they feel a change in their pulse the greater market has moved on.

    BTW, last winter in Thailand I noticed a lot of small Chevys on the road. GM is building something that is an attractive alternative to the Asian offerings. Why there weren’t ready to quickly convert some SUV/big pickup lines to smaller efficient cars is a question that shareholders should ask.

  17. Earl Killian says:

    Bob Wallace, Tesla, AC Propulsion, Phoenix, Aptera, AFS Trinity, Miles, Venture Vehicles, and Fisker are all on the left coast. Think is in Norway, but has a left coast office. Are you predicting one or more will make it big?

  18. paulm says:

    # Greg Says:
    September 23rd, 2008 at 10:00 am
    He’s motivated by oil independence, but so what? That’s a worthy cause, too.

    Er, I think hes mainly motivated by profit….

  19. Bob Wallace says:

    Will they? Can’t even fathom a guess.

    One or more might team up with a large car manufacturer in order to take their product to large volume levels in a hurry. I understand that Tesla has been talking with at least one Asian car manufacturer.

    I can’t see any of the named companies getting to the point where they produce at Toyota/GM/Chrysler levels in the foreseeable future. That’s just too much infrastructure to create.

    But then I don’t know all that much about car manufacturing. Is it possible that there are already non-car companies that make most of the components needed? Buy your shocks from ‘X’, your windshields from ‘Y’, and perhaps all you need to do is set up an assembly line.

    Or even do what Tesla is doing and buy a ‘rolling shell’ from an existing manufacturer and drop in electric motor, transmission, batteries, and controls.

    Notice that when Tesla figured out the transmission that would work in their car they turned to BorgWarner to actually make them.

    Then the other side of all this is that the ‘big boys’ have to do is to simply buy ‘one of each’, take the best ideas and jump all the development process that Aptera, etc. have done over the last few years.

    That said, building a great electric car doesn’t seem to be the issue. The biggie is building a great electric car battery. When those come to market most any car company can build a body and buy a good electric motor from someone else.

    Going to be interesting to watch.

    If I had to bet I’d put some money on Tesla and Fisker hanging around for a while as producers of ‘exotics’.

    And most of us driving cars built by existing Asian manufacturers.

  20. Bob Wallace says:

    A day later -

    I guess I fathomed a guess even though I thought myself unable ….

  21. TomG says:

    Quite right Earl.
    I should have added that I’m interested in the upcoming Zenn and Think cars.
    Either one of those should be affordable for me.
    The Volt seems to be “loaded” with stuff to raise the price to increase profit.
    I just want “cheap” wheels for the daily rat race…

  22. Skeptic says:

    If it wasn’t for Lutz, GM would be toast by now, the bean counters would still be running the show. He is one of the only ‘car guys’ left at these companies. Just because he dosen’t believe the GW nonsense being shoved down our throats, it does not mean he won’t be able to make an electric car. I guess we should all stop breathing since that puts C02 in the atmosphere. Absolute nonsense!

    Oh – and BTW, the Volt will be sold at a loss for at least its first generation.

    [JR: Serious deniers stop using the breathing talking point many years ago. It isn't biogenic CO2 that is causing the problem -- fossil CO2.]

  23. Skeptic

    Your name is a misnomer. You are not a skeptic. You are a denier.

    Either that or you are incredibly gullible and just misinformed.
    Take your pick.

  24. shop says:

    Lutz has been wrong before and has openly admitted it…
    When he was with Chrysler in 1987 he was “lukewarm” to that company purchasing American Motors.
    It was one of the best things Chrysler ever did