Bob Lutz, GM's Denier-in-Chief, Makes for the Exit

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Bob Lutz, don’t let the door bang you in the backside on your way out of the building.

As reported in this excellent post at Solve Climate, General Motors Denier-in-Chief and Vice President for New Product Development is being excused from duty – accepting retirement to make room for Tom Stephens, the executive who has been leading the development of hybrid technology at GM.

Lutz has been GM’s leading dinosaur, the reigning champion of GM’s obsession with the fuel-guzzling muscle cars that helped Toyota become the number one automaker in the world.

If you doubt that Lutz is inflicted with a fantasy gene, check the comments that he wrote on his Fastlane blog under the headline, “You’re not rid of me yet” (he’s actually hanging around in one diminished capacity or another till the end of the year):

“Please note that I relinquish these responsibilities secure in the knowledge that the guiding philosophy of pursuit of absolute product excellence is now firmly embedded in the organization. That unquestionable fact made a very difficult decision much easier for me.

“I feel very comfortable handing over the keys to Tom Stephens, …. Tom will do a great job ensuring the continued excellence of GM’s new cars, trucks and crossovers”

Continued excellence? There seems, in this, no recognition that he is being pushed – or that his company is in such dire straights that Bloomberg actually thinks GM’s prospects would be improved in bankruptcy.

It is, in any case, reassuring to see a changing of the guard at GM, just as in the White House, but you can’t help wonder how much better off the world might have been (and how many jobs General Motors might have saved) if the guys being replaced had not been quite so stubborn in ignoring evidence and courting disaster. There should be a price for such culpability, and you have to hope that Lutz stays at GM just long enough to pay it.

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