New General Motor’s vice chairman of marketing and communications Robert Lutz had a message of progress and success to deliver in his keynote speech to the attendees of the 46th annual Northwood University International Auto Show kickoff dinner. According to Lutz, GM is here to stay and is back in the game, better than ever before, and he is in this for the long haul.
The dinner took place at the Hach Center on Northwood University’s Midland, Michigan campus. In attendance were students, staff, professors, administrators and visitors to the campus.
Lutz’s career in the automotive industry began in 1963 and has included 12 years with Chrysler and another 12 years as executive vice president of truck operations at Ford before returning to GM in 2001. Lutz had planned to retire this year but has since decided to remain in his current new position with the company.
During his speech, Lutz talked about the future of the auto industry being linked to new technology, specifically mentioning the electric Chevrolet Volt, which he said, represents the future of the industry.
“I feel like the industry is on the cusp of a technological revolution,” Lutz said.
Lutz’message is that GM products are solid; their vehicles are of better quality than people know or remember. GM is currently supporting that notion with its “may the best car win” money back guarantee program. “The world does not realize how great today’s GM products are,” says Lutz.
GM’s recent ads have been bold, stating that their vehicles beat their Toyota counterparts’ gas mileage numbers, a claim that is accurate but has upset Toyota enough to request that the ads be pulled. GM refused to do so. “May the best car win” is GM’s way of saying that their products are equal to or better than their competitors, and they are not backing down from this stance.
Lutz is putting himself in the middle of the melee at a future event where he is planning to race a Cadillac CTS-V against all comers with stock four-door cars to prove that GM’s Cadillac is the fastest sedan in the world.
During the auto show banquet, Lutz showed pictures of new GM models that are in production or will be produced soon, such as the Cadillac CTS Sportwagon, GMC Terrain and Chevy Cruze. He also hinted about a possible announcement on production of the Cadillac Converj concept car. Lutz also spoke extensively on the Chevrolet Camaro, which has sold much better than anticipated.
Lutz took questions after the ribbon cutting opening of the show. He was asked about GM’s image as a government run car company and was quick to assert that GM has been essentially free of government interference since the end of the bankruptcy proceedings.
Lutz said, “The way it is organized now it’s like any other company. The best way to shed that image is to make a lot of money quickly and buy back the government’s stock.”