GM’s Lutz On Hybrids, Global Warming And Cars As Art

Bob Lutz, General Motors’ vice chairman and chief car guru, says what really turns him on is “doing the unexpected”–acting “contrary to the conventional wisdom, forcing people to re-think their beliefs.” Maybe that’s why Lutz, who made his name developing behemoths like the V-10 Dodge Viper, is so sold on the fuel-efficient new Chevrolet Volt, which will run on a lithium-ion battery and could go on sale by 2010. “The Volt thrills me because it’s the last thing anybody expected from GM,” the ex-Marine said at a private lunch in Arlington today. If you’re into cars or the car business, jump to read more of Lutz’s contrarian beliefs.

During a closed-door session with several journalists at the Cacharel restaurant, Lutz declared that:

–Hybrid cars like those made by Toyota “make no economic sense,” because their price will never come down, and diesel autos like those touted by Chrysler are also uneconomic. The only place in Europe that diesel-driven cars are big, he said, is where diesel fuel is half the cost of regular gasoline; in most places there, the costs are comparable and diesel has little market penetration.

– Global warming is a “total crock of ****.” Then he added: “I’m a skeptic, not a denier. Having said that, my opinion doesn’t matter. (With the battery-driven Volt), “I’m motivated more by the desire to replace imported oil than by the CO2 (argument).”

– With more and more good-quality cars on the market these days, “you’ve got to look at the business artistically, too. Part of our business is creating blockbusters–just like the movie business–yet we never think of ourselves that way. A car is an exciting mobile sculpture that you want to own, drive and be seen in. That’s why (auto-industry) comeback stories are always design-driven.” One GM car that fills that bill, he said, is Cadillac’s CTS.

– The best car dealers will thrive even in a sluggish economy. “They’ve got to isolate themselves from the economic forecasts,” Lutz said, “and say, ‘I make my own prosperity.’ “

Tonight, Lutz will jawbone privately with area GM dealers about these and other matters at a local restaurant where steak will be served.

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83 comments on “GM’s Lutz On Hybrids, Global Warming And Cars As Art

  1. Hi All,

    Well, Lutz’s extremest view on Global Warming not withstanding, GM is aparently (as they tell us they are) moving forward on car to reduce energy consumption. Which is a good thing.

    The big Problem with some of these cars is the lack of functional design. They are striving for “design pasion” not something that has a chance at engineering success. Look at the difference between the Volt and Flextreme. The Flextreme is the car of the future, and the Volt is a 1960′s teenage between classes doodle on the back of notebook. There is no professionalism in the Volt styling.

    The main reason I think GM et al put down the cost of cars like the Prius, is because they would be more expensive for GM et al to produce, not Toyota. Toyota put the power of the company behind the people in the company that had the ideas. The ideas that made the Hybrid cost effective for the company and the customer. GM could have done this in the PNGV years but did not. And now they do not have an engineering portfolio that is economically competitive with Toyota. Which pushed GM into the “Manhattan Project” – like battery developement effort.

    Toyota beat them to the punch. Even though both companies had more than enough muscle. Which puts Mr Lutz and GM in a position where they are forced into next generation, large battery Hyrbrids. Because they missed the production boat on the small battery hybrid design.

    Whether the Prius concept car cost comes down or not, does not matter for the wide world. It only matters to GM internal production goals. If Toyota or anybody else can sell these cars at a profit, even if its a small profit, GM will keep loosing market share. Because in operation the Prius concept cars yields $.22 cost of ownership and operation per mile to the customer. And market share is the profit in the car business.

  2. Lutz is 100% right about man-made global warming. There simply is zero credible evidence that it is anything more than a natural part of the warming and cooling cycles that have gone on as long as the earth has been here. Man can’t make it worse, and man can’t make it better. I’ve looked at the pro and con arguments, and I have yet to find scientific fact (versus scientism opinion and hype) supporting man-made global warming.

    Now Lutz needs to turn his attention to making quality automobiles and fighting stupid government regulations like the CAFE standards. I know a lot of anectdotal cases where people buy lower and middle tier (in terms of cost) GM vehicles and they are junk compared to the Hondas, Toyotas, and even Hyundais. For example, replacing a cracked lens on one of the rear lights on a 2001 Chevrolet Lumina costs over $300 (not including labor)! The entire assembly has to be replaced instead of a simple plastic lens because it is an assembly where the lens is modled in and can’t be replaced.

    I hope Lutz and other GM execs start applying the same common sense that led them to understand the truth about global warming to making cars that can compete with non-American brands. Just because GM marketing says so doesn’t make it so.

  3. The only reason a car company like GM should be making the hybrids, electric cars, and fuel cell cars is because the sheeple that buy into the hysteria are willing to spend money buying these useless POS.

    Vehicles based on hybrid, fuel cell, or electric technologies are always more expensive to buy and operate. For example, hybrids have more moving parts, which means a lower mean time between failure (MTBF). It takes more energy production to power electric and fuel cell cars than gas powered cars. Where do you think the energy comes from to charge electric batteries or separate hydrogen from oxygen so fuels cells will work?

    What we need are more refineries and more environmentally sound oil drilling. R&D should focus on creating synthetic oil domestically in large quantities at a price competitive to oil we import.

    What we need is to get off the stupid ideas like ethanol which create more pollution, give lowwer mileage, and have caused drastic increases in food prices.

    What we need are fewer sheeple and more Americans who can think for themselves and take the time to get the facts.

  4. I see the trolls have come out in droves. That’s what they do, bookmark, come back a few days later and post. That way they are the last word. They also post under different names to appear as several different people debating. The vast majority of comments on this thread occur between Feb 12th and Feb 15th, then relative silence but for a few posts here and there. What are the odds that all of a sudden, days later, Saturday at 8:04 am, there are four posts from three different global warming deniers in a space of 25 minutes. Quite a pathetic strategy if you ask me. Normally, I would take the time to educate folks, but in this case, they’re just paid little trolls.

  5. BTW, little trolls, best get busy. I know the major blogs as well as MSM are unaware of Lutz’s remarks. Gee, where shall I start…. DailyKos or Huffington Post? Oh well, how bout both? Bye for now…

  6. Little known blogs like this take a while to bubble up to media that most folks see. That is why some responses come later.

    “TheWarOnScienceIsReal” appears to be into tinfoil-hat conspiracy theories. Yes, Virginia, there really are thinking, educated people who don’t buy the anthropogenic global warming hysteria. The war is not on science (my particular background), but on scientism. The latter is based on feelings and emotions, not science, reason, and fact.

    You should learn the difference.

    BTW, one clear sign that you have no valid arguments is when your reply consists of calling people names and assuming you know things about motives and actions that you have no way of knowing. A few lines of rock-hard, true science in support of anthropogenic global warming would have served you better.

  7. JD is right. The Global Warming Hoax is getting around. I’m no “paid little troll”; in fact, I started writing about this hoax for years, back when I was a magazine editor. The hoax is that tree huggers want us to throw trillions of dollars down a global warming rathole to stop something that cannot be stopped. If there really is global warming, it is a natural cycle that began in 1850, at the end ot the Little Ice Age. I am all for cleaning up the environment and cutting the use of imported oil, but it won’t do anything to stop global warming.

    Fortunately, the word is getting out. A UK judge ruled there are nine substantial errors in Gore’s movie; Fox News dissected the movie and said if the sections containing those nine errors were removed, there wouldn’t be much of a movie left. Go here, you’ll see:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10/11/AR2007101102134.html

    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,303525,00.html

  8. TheWarOnScienceIsReal-
    And you’re the one making it. Ice at <0 degrees C is floating on top of water in a clear insulated bowl out in the air. Ambient air or ocean current warming melts the ice to ~1 degree C water which mixes with the liquid water already in the bowl. High precision measurements are made of the level of the water both just before and after the ice melts — the after water level in the bowl*
    A) rises a bit?
    B) stays the same?
    C) falls a bit?

    * Assume that no polar bears or other animals drown in the bowl, in a catastrophic example of human-caused global warming.

  9. Mr. Lutz is right, manmade global warming is a hoax. Whether the planet is warming or, now cooling is irrelevant. The problem facing the U.S. is our dependency on foreign oil. I drive a Prius not because of “global warming” but because I get 46.1 MPG!!! I can drive 3 weeks before having to fill up. I would have bought a Chevy Volt had it existed and priced to compete with the low/mid range Prius. If they price it at just under $29,000 then they still won’t get my business. It will be out of reach. However, if they price in the low to mid $20,000s then I would switch as soon as I could afford to in order to support an American company and because I like Chevy’s approach even more than Toyota’s.
    All the flack he is taking over his statement is proof that “GWs” are more of a religion than anything else. He spoke heresy and they can’t stand it. Get a life people, the earth goes through cycles of heating and cooling. We now appear to be entering a cooling cycle. I like it. Next thing you know Al Gore will be making a new movie telling us all that we need him to save us from Global Cooling…

  10. JD… I assume the quote, ”yes, Virginia” is supposed to intimidate me. You’re wrong. You barely amuse me. I’m sure you have your connections. Say again, your background is in Science? Ha! You have got to be joking! Oh sure, maybe you like others here took a couple Ecology courses… please. Maybe you were in Psychology (that would explain a lot). And quite frankly from my days at the University, those seeking meteorologist degrees were not the sharpest tools in the shed. Some were sharp, but most were looking for anchor jobs. If I recall, their industry also denied the link of CFC’s and the ozone layer.

    So tell me JD, if you’re so smart, convince me why you are smarter than 104 Nobel Laureates in the Sciences? In 1997, The Union of Concerned Scientists issued a petition named “A Call to Action”. It urged 1) act immediately to prevent the potentially devastating consequences of human-induced global warming. And 2) demonstrate a new commitment to protecting the global environment. 104 Nobel Laureates in the Sciences signed that petition.

    That was over 11 years ago. And before you give me the line (like a local DC lobbyist tried to gave me last year), “what about the 2100 Nobel Laureates who didn’t sign it?” Well, I hope you’re not that dumb. There are 4 prizes in the sciences given every year, Physics, Medicine, Chemistry, and Physiology. The prizes are not often split. You do the math..

    This didn’t start with Gore, this started with us. This is not, nor ever has been political, this is fact. For your own sake, stop trying to BS us.

  11. I’m with Bob! If you only know one thing, know this: Climate change is about the weather climate, whereas Global Warming is about the business climate!

    When we’ve filled all the nation’s junk yards and landfills with still perfectly good and serviceable durable goods and big ticket items and have purchased new, “GW friendly” ones, it’ll be ‘all better’! Until the next scam comes along!

    Today the business generator is that if you can make people feel guilty enough or if you can make them feel threatened enough, they’ll buy what you’re selling! And it sure doesn’t hurt to have a gov. mandate in your hip pocket, either.

  12. You go Bob! Man made global warming is a HUGE crock of sh… designed for companies to pay more fees to the government and to guilt people into buying “green”!!!

    Global warming and cooling is the natural evolution of the plant. Hence – Mars’ global warming. What manufacturing is going on Mars right now to cause gloable warming? What manufacturing caused the Ice age? NONE! It’s natural evolution of the planet!

    The planet is going to warm and cool as it rotates over years/centuries. No amount of recyling (which is actually worse for the enviroment) is going to prevent it or progress it. Same with driving a car.

  13. TheWarOnScienceIsReal, what is intimidating about paraphrasing a famous old newspaper article? I think you missed the contextual meaning.

    As for my science background, it is in nuclear engineering, with all the associated and related sciences like chemistry, physics, biology, metallurgy, mathematics, etc. After the “greenies” devastated the nuclear power industry, I moved into computer science.

    So, TheWarOnScienceIsReal, when I say I have studied the science, I mean it. I have looked at the raw data, and at the way it was collected. For example, I, like many others, noticed the effect the change in data collection worldwide after the fall of the Soviet Union. The new countries left over after the fall could scarcely afford to maintain sending the quality and quantity of data, which made worldwide ground monitoring inaccurate since 1991.

    I have also noticed how NASA has had to revise reports, such as the list of the hottest years. Much fanfare was made when they tried to include several of the recent years in that list, but little fanfare when NASA reversed itself and admitted the data was wrong, and that the recent years were not the hottest on record. Also, satellite temperature measurements, which are more accurate and consistent don’t show global warming.

    Anthropgenic global warming (AGW) doesn’t pass one of the most important requirements of any scientific theory – that of the conclusions being able to be reproduced following the same procedures.

    As to “convince me why you are smarter than 104 Nobel Laureates in the Sciences”, it is not an issue of “smarter” (though, if it matters to you, my IQ is in the upper 1%). It is an issue of motives. Scientists are also human beings, and they are as subject to emotions as anyone. Belief in AGW is in the same mold as other religious beliefs. It is a matter of faith, as there is no science to prove it. Scientists also like to get funding for research, so to do that, they have to tow the party line. AGW is a big source of research funding if you pretend to believe it. Many universities and government research facilities place a litmus test on AGW when hiring. Scientists like to work, eat, and make their home and car payments. Little things like honor and truth are easily sacrificed in a culture where everything is relativistic.

    As to the CFCs and the ozone layer, let me clue ou in on some real science. CFC’s are heavier than air, and do not separate into their component molecules easily. There has never been a mechanism shown by which large quantities of CFCs can be lifted into the upper atmosphere to destroy the ozone layer. However, lots of chemicals with the same effect on ozone are generated – in quantities far greater than man can make them – by volcanic activity. Which also explains how they get into the upper atmosphere. So much for CFCs actually being a problem. But, the removal of them certainly gave the air conditioning & refrigeration industry a huge profit boost replacing systems that worked fine but used CFCs.

    As to the ozone layer itself, do you know what ozone is? It is ionized oxygen. Do you know how it is made? 100% of ozone is made by the sun. In addition, ozone molecules don’t last long – which should be no surprise if you understand how chemically interactive any ion is. So to deplete the ozone layer, other than its natural cycles, requires extinguishing the sun, and/or taking oxygen out of the atmosphere. Neither of which man can do.

    I have no problem with you believing anything you want to believe. But you cannot reasonably expect others to buy into your religious beliefs, and that is what AGW is. 104 opinions are not science. Fact and logic are.

  14. JD, wow is all I can say. The scientific opinions of 104 Nobel Laureares are just opinions? Just like any other bloke on the street? So nice to hear you have such a high opinion of science.

    “There has never been a mechanism shown by which large quantities of CFCs can be lifted into the upper atmosphere to destroy the ozone layer.” It’s called free radicals. What planet are you on? It’s blatantly obvious you have NO background in science. Try these on for size Cl + O3 → ClO + O2 and ClO + O → Cl + O2

    “As to the ozone layer itself, do you know what ozone is? It is ionized oxygen” No, I’m sorry, it’s O3, I mean really, this is High School stuff. Nuclear engineer? I seriously doubt it. Wow.

  15. TheWarOnScienceIsReal, it looks like you are just repeating stuff without knowing what you are talking about.

    “Free radicals” is not a transport mechanism. It is the description of ions that remain ions for some period of time. It has nothing to do with lifting heavier than air gases into the upper atmosphere where the sun’s rays are powerful enough to break up the CFCs. CFCs are stable compounds, particularly in the lower atmosphere) that need the addition of energy (e.g. ultraviolet light in the upper atmosphere) to break into its component molecules (i.e. “free radicals”). You still have not answered how the heavier than air CFC gets into the upper atmosphere.

    As to ozone, what do you think O3 is? It is ionized oxygen. O2 is a stable radical, where the outer valance of electrons for each atom is 1 short of stability, so they each share the presence of an electron as a diatomic. O3 is very unstable, and has a negative charge associated with it. O3 will quickly become O2 becasue it is so unstable. That is why there is no such thing as a stable ozone layer. It comes and goes with solar ultraviolet radiation, and has natural cycles in different places, making the whole “hole in the ozone layer” another myth in terms of it being abnormal and/or man-made.

    You need to do more than cut and paste from Wikipedia – you need to understand what it is you are saying.

  16. finally, a high ranking officer speaking the truth about global warming, man cannot have any impact on the global climate.

    Think about it pinheads, the sun has more of an impact with the sunspot activity than any man made phenomona.

    Also did you know that approx. 78% of this planet is water, might also have a big impact on the climate.

    Global warming is Al Gore phooey.

  17. JD said “…making the whole “hole in the ozone layer” another myth in terms of it being abnormal and/or man-made.”

    The late Ron Kohl, editor of Machine Design magazine, said essentially the same thing about 15 years ago, when he called the CFC/ozone layer controversy “The Trillion Dollar Hoax.” Oddly enough, it’s one of the few articles in Machine Design that can’t be Googled–probably because it was and still is politically incorrect.

    I wonder what Kohl would say about the Global Warming Hoax?

    (Oops. Forgot this is a Design News blog. Sorry, to mention the competition like that.)

  18. Global Warming is even worse than the IPCC reported in its last document. In the elapsed between their climate monitoring and the reaching of the document’s conclusions, the scientist found the degradation on the ground had/has significantly worsened and quickened The only substantive causal factors to this are the concentrations of greenhouse gases. Other factors have been shown repeatedly to be of little or no impact on this global warming. Saying otherwise is just plain scientifically wrong.

    This is in fact a very shitty situation as it will most likely starve, sicken, kill, and otherwise destablize countless millions of humans and possibly destablize all of humanity; but it is not a “Crock of Shit” as Bob Lutz ignorantly says.

  19. Peter Courtenay Stephens…

    I take it you won’t be voting Democratic in the upcoming primaries…

    lol

  20. Why have i decided over the years to never purchase a GM car until the end of my days? Because they shut down U.S. factories while paying idiots like this Lutz tons of money to spew ignorance that anyone who has spent a reasonable amount of time outdoors in the past 25 years realizes is false. Well, that and the fact that the gas-guzzling monsters GM makes aren’t what the market wants in Washington D.C…..

  21. What is amazing to me is the sheer number of atheists who never-the-less fervently press the new religion of global warming (and it is just like a religion to them). And, just like the Inquisitors of old, they refuse to allow that they might be wrong; instead their automatic default of choice is to sacrifice any who disagree with them (fire them, off with their heads, whatever). No longer do they allow that there can there be any dispute with what has not and cannot be proved, i.e., CO² is the cause of the supposed “warming” that is going on right now.

    I am old enough when these same adherents were touting “global cooling” as their primary scare tactic. And if it is true (and it is not), then why not insist that it be curbed rather than having sham “carbon credits” which is nothing more than a transfer of capital from the Western nations of the world to the less developed, and which does nothing to reduce the production of CO² that they claim is doing so much harm in the first place.

    Sign me I don’t believe in your sh*t either.

  22. I would recommend you listen to two radio interviews I have just done.

    1. Wieslaw Maslowski – US main Naval Oceanographer on the complete loss of arctic summer ice by 2013
    http://podcast.beyondzeroemissions.org/07dec07-wieslaw-maslowski-beyondzero.mp3

    And Dr James Hansen NASA chief climate scientist

    http://beyondzeroemissions.org/James-Hansen-no-more-coal-carbon-stabilisation-below-350ppm

    Please get informed. Not only 104 Nobel Laureates but every leading climate scientist and weather bureau around the world.

  23. Lutz’s comments disclose a mindset which has made GM increasingly irrelevant in the marketplace. Their vehicles are just not any good. I hope that Congress reminds GM of this comment when they appear before Congress to ask for a bail-out.

  24. Bob Lutz also opposed the Federal CAFE standard of 35 MPG and claimed at the January Detroit Auto Show that costs will increase for consummers up to $10K per vehicle. As I write this note, crude oil is trading at $101.82 up 2.19% today and I’ll bet if you fill up your gas tank today it will cost more than it did in January. Bob… do you wonder why consummers prefer cars made in Asia?

    Global warming is a significant issue about which some wish to debate but there is no uncertainty about the cost of fuel and that’s increasing.

  25. with this attitude it seems that GM may be the first automaker to go down…that is if Lutz can keep his job.

  26. I love this guy, if nothing else for the fact that he had the balls to say that as the Vice Chairman of GM, the kind of profession where you jump on any bandwagon just to rake in the dollars. Even if I was hardcore into environmentalism, I’d respect that. Not a lot of people are willing to say what ever they want regardless of whether it goes with or against the flow.

    Personally, I agree with him, this whole thing is completely exaggerated, and it’s no coincidence that the people who support going green conveniently avoid giving facts and figures and go for the intimidation, or emotional play. It’s just straight, propaganda style manipulation.

    skulldriveshaft, The earth is the biggest thing on this planet? really? oddly enough, that brings me to my belief that our faulty education system is a much bigger problem than Carbondi-freaking-oxide. In case you were wondering, water is the biggest thing on this planet; Earth IS our planet.

    Anyone, if you want to decrease your “carbon footprint” (what a ridiculous term) just stop breathing, it’s that simple.

  27. Kenneth, what surprises me is the amount of atheists that don’t want to let the world get warmer, sit back and watch evolution happen. Even as a religious person, that prospect is really intriguing to me.

    Also, if humans are just animals, isn’t everything we’re doing completely natural? So why not let nature run it’s course (from an atheistic point of view)? From a religious one, If God is omnipotent and has a plan for everything, does anyone really think that the world is going to be destroyed when he doesn’t want it to be? And if he does does anyone think they can stop it? seriously.
    —-

    According to Al Gore, the world’s climate has been exactly the same for about 11,000 years. Isn’t everyone pushing for change right now? Isn’t one of the Green slogans “Change the world” or something similarly pretentious? So if the world really is getting hotter, why stop it? For all we know, it could be even more beautiful that way.

  28. Folks,
    As a professor of Atmospheric Science, it’s just a little
    disappointing to see so much confidence by people who
    haven’t cracked a book on the atmosphere. Look, if you want to criticize the IPCC, surf over to http://www.ipcc.ch, and *read the whole thing*. It’s written for laypeople. It’ll take you about a month, part time. *Then* go and re-read your random skeptic web pages, and see which is more convincing. If you’d rather read a book, buy “The Discovery of Global Warming” by Spencer Weart. There is a lot to understand on this topic, before you should feel confident in your own opinions.

    Cheers,
    Dan

  29. Wasn’t this guy in charge of the company when they killed the Volt?

    Being a denier of global warming doesn’t necessarily make you a bad leader for an automobile company as far as profitability goes, but his apparent lack of concern for delivering cheap, high mpg cars to the customers who ARE concerned about global warming, and who can’t afford a future driving a low mpg car, sets a gloomy picture for the future of this company.

  30. How you think when the economic crisis will end? I wish to make statistics of independent opinions!

  31. I love Lutz and cant wait for the Volt to come out.For the poster that says GM is still going down.. Its because the middle management like Randy Johson who has messed up every project he is given yet after a few of them he is still there? He can’t even get along with other departments.As long as he is kept away from the Volt..there is hope. Its promising!