Auto rants (Part 2)

Chrysler set a record for passage through bankruptcy, just in time for GM – a more complex financial beast – to emerge even more quickly: In on the First of June, out on the 10th of July. Three days later, Advertising Age asked the first-page rhetorical question “Is this the right guy to run GM’s marketing?’ next to a photo of Bob Lutz.

The answer to that question should have been clear from the July 14th Wall Street Journal headline advising that Mr. Lutz was toying with the idea of breathing some life into the almost-dead corpse of the Pontiac division by resurrecting the Chevrolet Caprice model name and putting it on the Pontiac G8.

The answer is no, Bob Lutz is not the right guy to run GM’s marketing.

He’s 77. He’s retired from GM once already. He is steeped in the tradition of the US automobile industry. The G8 fizzled after it’s 2007 introduction, but sales are picking up…so the logical conclusion is to make sure we hold on to this model, “citing nascent demand.”

In the depths of the Depression, Packard Motor Car company hired production and sales executives from General Motors because Packard didn’t understand how to make or sell a popularly-priced car to save their souls. It worked!

The equivalent in today’s market in which GM has been unable to sell automobiles profitably would be for GM to hire marketing and production executives from Toyota.

Mr. Lutz, you have to narrow the range of models offered by each of your surviving divisions, not broaden them; you have to reduce the overlap of models, not further confuse them.

Clarity, Mr. Lutz. Focus. One big winner, not a half-dozen stunted, resource-sucking minor models that you produce for inventory (not demand) and then have to liquidate.


  1. Auto rants (3) « Cabbages and kings - June 16, 2010

    […] year I made it pretty clear ( and Auto Rants (2))that the problem with Chevrolet as a brand isn’t that people use a diminutive and endearing term […]

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