Bob Lutz on Design: GM vs. Ford

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Thread: Bob Lutz on Design: GM vs. Ford

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    Bob Lutz on Design: GM vs. Ford

    Excerpt from Bob Lutz interview in Autonews.com (Subscription needed)…

    Bob Lutz on Ford, GM, Carlos Ghosn, powerful execs and the future
    Richard Truett
    June 23, 2019
    autonews.com

    It's been awhile since we've spoken with Bob Lutz, the product development whiz who changed the fortunes of virtually every automaker he's worked for BMW, Ford, Chrysler, General Motorsh; in a nearly six-decade career.

    We recently caught up with Lutz, 87, who is not quite retired. His VLF Automotive operation north of Detroit is looking for its next product after the Corvette-powered Destino performance luxury car wrapped up production this year.

    We peppered the former Marine lieutenant with rapid-fire questions on the topics that are roiling the auto industry in 2019 and only lightly edited his answers. If you know Lutz, you know he's going to say exactly what he thinks, even if it rankles his friends and former colleagues. So buckle up: This will be a bumpy ride.

    "I am saying this for the first time in my career: I think Ford has an exquisite handle on design right now. You could first see it in the 2013 Fusion and the Lincoln version. The Mustang clearly out-designed the new-generation Camaro, and sales are showing it. The Lincoln crossovers were very well executed. The Lincoln Corsair is going to be very good. The Aviator is off the charts in every respect.

    But that's what you do if you want to gain market share and win against the competition. You don't go for barely competitive and what can we get away with? You go out to kill with the interior. That's where a few hundred bucks can buy you thousands of dollars' worth of perceived value.
    Ford is clearly on a roll when it comes to design. GM is used to being the design leader in the United States. Arguably a few years ago, it was true. But GM needs to pull it out. Ford is doing a great job, without a question".
    He also has some pointed comments about the current Silverado.
    Last edited by nadepalma; 06-24-2019 at 10:31 AM. Reason: Reformatted; moved to newsticker

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    Re: Bob Lutz on GM vs. Ford in design:

    Ouch; that left a mark......................

    "You don't go for barely competitive and what can we get away with? You go out to kill with the interior. That's where a few hundred bucks can buy you thousands of dollars' worth of perceived value."


    And if that wasn't pointed enough.................

    "GM is used to being the design leader in the United States. Arguably a few years ago, it was true. But GM needs to pull it out."

    When he says "pull it out" what exactly is he implying?


    Here is the link: https://www.autonews.com/executives/...ecs-and-future

    Usually you can see an article or two before they block you out.
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    Re: Bob Lutz on GM vs. Ford in design:

    Quote Originally Posted by bongos2u View Post
    .......................................He also has some pointed comments about the current Silverado.
    This part?..........................


    On Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' Ram outselling the Chevrolet Silverado:

    I think the [Chevrolet] product could have been better. Ram has a drop-dead gorgeous interior. During my nine years at GM, I thought I cured them of the tendency to take cost out of the interior and convinced them the interior is where you put the money, where the customer can see and feel and touch.

    I have no doubt the Silverado is a great truck, but it disappointed people in some respects. It doesn't have the visual impact of the new Ram or the F-150, and there is a uniformity of opinion that the interior is highly disappointing. I consider this a mistake that didn't have to happen.

    I tried to convince GM that the interior is where the buyer spends the ownership period, not the outside. It's extremely important. If you look at the quality of the interiors Ford and Ram are putting into their large vehicles now, I cannot believe that GM is trying to get away with these low-cost interiors, similar to what they were doing before I got there.

    On the other hand, GM maintains that Ram is heavily outspending them and buying market share. I am not close enough to the numbers to verify whether that is true or not. But the fact that the Chevy Silverado is in third place and is hard to sell worries me greatly.
    Current: Hidden Content Hidden Content

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    Re: Bob Lutz on GM vs. Ford in design:

    Quote Originally Posted by Ed753 View Post
    This part?..........................


    On Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' Ram outselling the Chevrolet Silverado:

    I think the [Chevrolet] product could have been better. Ram has a drop-dead gorgeous interior. During my nine years at GM, I thought I cured them of the tendency to take cost out of the interior and convinced them the interior is where you put the money, where the customer can see and feel and touch.

    I have no doubt the Silverado is a great truck, but it disappointed people in some respects. It doesn't have the visual impact of the new Ram or the F-150, and there is a uniformity of opinion that the interior is highly disappointing. I consider this a mistake that didn't have to happen.

    I tried to convince GM that the interior is where the buyer spends the ownership period, not the outside. It's extremely important. If you look at the quality of the interiors Ford and Ram are putting into their large vehicles now, I cannot believe that GM is trying to get away with these low-cost interiors, similar to what they were doing before I got there.

    On the other hand, GM maintains that Ram is heavily outspending them and buying market share. I am not close enough to the numbers to verify whether that is true or not. But the fact that the Chevy Silverado is in third place and is hard to sell worries me greatly.
    Pretty much sums it up.

    I could tell in 2009 when talking to GM's management there was this underlying attitude that GM only had to go back to what they were doing pre-BK and GM would be OK.

    They were clueless to the reality that outside economic forces had nothing to do with GM going BK, it was all self inflicted bad decisions and the idea that cutting costs creates profits.

    WRONG!

    Designing and producing superior products within a reasonable cost structure does, and if you have the right strategy of what vehicles need to be on what platform, powered by the correct powertrains and equipped with the required equipment in an attractive package (inside and out), is how you succeed. Bob had them on that track, buy GM thought they knew better - they didn't and don't - GM is only good at going BK.

    At this point GM must do a massive "Top Down" overhaul and need an outside management team that has a clue on how to achieve the proper strategy that prioritizes understanding markets and delivering what they will actually buy over "agendas" and "blind cost cutting". Doubt that will happen so we all know where GM is headed, just a matter of time.

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    Re: Bob Lutz on GM vs. Ford in design:

    Quote Originally Posted by Ed753 View Post
    Ouch; that left a mark......................

    "You don't go for barely competitive and what can we get away with? You go out to kill with the interior. That's where a few hundred bucks can buy you thousands of dollars' worth of perceived value."


    And if that wasn't pointed enough.................

    "GM is used to being the design leader in the United States. Arguably a few years ago, it was true. But GM needs to pull it out."

    When he says "pull it out" what exactly is he implying?


    Here is the link: https://www.autonews.com/executives/...ecs-and-future

    Usually you can see an article or two before they block you out.
    Blocked me out. Subscription required on the first try. I went to the Homepage and it also has in different print next to the title, those same words Subscription Required.

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    Re: Bob Lutz on GM vs. Ford in design:

    You go out to kill with the interior.
    This is one reason I like the the ELR so much. They pulled no punches on the interior.
    It is as high quality as anything out there. There's nothing cheap about it.
    Voltec and great styling help too. Even the rare '16's are $30K now.

    Of course, it didn't help with sales. Even a great interior can't make up for a price point that's WAY too high.
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    Re: Bob Lutz on GM vs. Ford in design:

    Damn, he's a Ford fanboi too?...
    Last edited by Mr.Buttons; 06-23-2019 at 12:12 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by eaton53 View Post
    You go out to kill with the interior.
    This is one reason I like the the ELR so much. They pulled no punches on the interior.
    It is as high quality as anything out there. There's nothing cheap about it.
    Voltec and great styling help too. Even the rare '16's are $30K now.

    Of course, it didn't help with sales. Even a great interior can't make up for a price point that's WAY too high.
    true and no matter how good the car may have been, buyers just wouldn’t touch it with a barge pole. ELR was a mistake made to cover an even bigger mistake, the Vollt. Volt was originally intended as a BEV but then Lutz knew the board didn’t want another EV1, so he authorised more money to add the range extender gas engine. And so was born a PHEV that cost twice as much to develop as the competitions hybrid and PHEVs

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    Re: Bob Lutz on GM vs. Ford in design:

    My, the cognitive dissonance on this thread should be quite something to behold.

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    Re: Bob Lutz on GM vs. Ford in design:

    Quote Originally Posted by SierraGS View Post
    Pretty much sums it up.

    I could tell in 2009 when talking to GM's management there was this underlying attitude that GM only had to go back to what they were doing pre-BK and GM would be OK.

    They were clueless to the reality that outside economic forces had nothing to do with GM going BK, it was all self inflicted bad decisions and the idea that cutting costs creates profits.

    WRONG!

    Designing and producing superior products within a reasonable cost structure does, and if you have the right strategy of what vehicles need to be on what platform, powered by the correct powertrains and equipped with the required equipment in an attractive package (inside and out), is how you succeed. Bob had them on that track, buy GM thought they knew better - they didn't and don't - GM is only good at going BK.

    At this point GM must do a massive "Top Down" overhaul and need an outside management team that has a clue on how to achieve the proper strategy that prioritizes understanding markets and delivering what they will actually buy over "agendas" and "blind cost cutting". Doubt that will happen so we all know where GM is headed, just a matter of time.
    I was elated when GM hired De Nysschen to run Cadillac. Thought they finally "get it" to hire the best person possible for the job. When he was let go, I thought it was another example of GM's backwards, insular culture rearing it's ugly head again. For the first time in my life, I am considering an FCA or Ford product for my next vehicle. Maybe even a Honda (!!!).
    Last edited by bongos2u; 06-23-2019 at 12:34 PM.

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    Re: Bob Lutz on GM vs. Ford in design:

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr.Buttons View Post
    Damn, he's a Ford fanboi too?...
    GM needs to step it up. However, the difference is he offers a balanced approach to his criticism (he's said positive things in the past regarding GM) vs. taking outright glee when GM does poorly and only commenting on the bad stuff.

    I do agree that GM needs to step it up. Though I liked the high end interior on GM's trucks, these are $60k+ vehicles and need to have interior options that can hang with the Germans. Trucks are no longer vehicles for working, they are luxury vehicles, they are daily commuters, they are statements - they are taking over the "toy" spot that sports cars used to be (toys to make a statement and have fun in).

    And that goes for everything. GM is keeping the Malibu, they need to make it the best damn midsized car out there, including the interior. That can make it a growth segment for GM even though the overall segment is declining.

    And this is all from someone that I know many of you think I am to blinded by GM fanboi-ism to see.

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    Re: Bob Lutz on GM vs. Ford in design:

    It has to be said, Reuss and Mother are in over their heads

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    Re: Bob Lutz on GM vs. Ford in design:

    Quote Originally Posted by jpd80 View Post
    And so was born a PHEV that cost twice as much to develop as the competitions hybrid and PHEVs
    And it's still better than all of 'em.
    IMO, ELR is the best looking Hybrid/PHEV/EV of them all.

    Quote Originally Posted by bongos2u View Post
    Maybe even a Honda (!!!).
    I've driven almost all of the Hondas and Acuras and they are not all that.
    I am an unabashed fan of the RLX, tho. Me and 12 other people...

    I'd avoid that 1.5 turbo like the plague.
    Last edited by eaton53; 06-23-2019 at 01:05 PM.
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    Re: Bob Lutz on GM vs. Ford in design:

    Quote Originally Posted by mbukukanyau View Post
    It has to be said, Reuss and Mother are in over their heads
    I was quite impressed with Mary at first. Her handling of the ignition switch fiasco was exemplary. Since then, not so much. It's gotten to the point that I think she is a GM lifer who has many of Old GM's habits and will eventually destroy the company. It will be very interesting to see what shape GM will be in 10,15,20 years.

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    Re: Bob Lutz on GM vs. Ford in design:

    When it comes to Ford VS. GM I just saw this and thought I'd leave it here: https://www.carscoops.com/2019/06/20...-off-road-too/ It seems Ford is at least trying harder in this arena.

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