Sunday, February 24, 2008

Detroit Mis-Attitudes

How can I not comment on General Motors Corp Vice Chairman Bob Lutz's remarking and then backing these remarks? Below is the text of a Reuters article, as well as a pointer to it.

1. Lutz surely understands that what he says as a corporate leader influences at least all those who are under him.

2. Lutz may not be aware of the way his expressed values influence his personal decision making, but they do influence it.

3. One of the problems with filling key positions in major corporations with 40-year-old hotshots is that most of the lack maturity. The shift that is currently underway to enable our society to survive requires that many such corporate leaders have moved on to "generativity" so that they are prepared to take consideration of generations to come.

4. There is longstanding awareness that Detroit (which includes GM) has looked to special consideration from the government instead of getting off the dime about its poor energy and environment performance. Partly this has been made OK by politicians and business advocates who have championed the notion of relying on "market forces" ... as long as those market forces go to their advantage and they still get their special considerations. Advocating reliance on "market forces" can be useful in many circumstances, as long as the advocates are not hypocritical. In Detroit's case hypocrisy has been a loose-loose proposition for all parties concerned. Special consideration as a result of lobbying Washington has led to weaker American auto companies and a weaker America.

4. Lutz was correct about GM's compromised market position. Many of us have been predicting for years that this would happen. Lutz said that it was a mistake to allow Toyota to seize "the mantle of green respectability and technology leadership" with its market-leading Prius hybrid. Lester Brown says that he thinks GM has learned a lesson, that it is really working hard to get the Volt out before Japanese makers get their electric cars into the market. Time will tell.

5. Here is hoping that Detroit learns this time around. I'm sure they can do it if they really want to!

GM exec stands by calling global warming a "crock"
Fri Feb 22, 2008 3:08pm EST
DETROIT (Reuters) - General Motors Corp Vice Chairman Bob Lutz has defended remarks he made dismissing global warming as a "total crock of s---," saying his views had no bearing on GM's commitment to build environmentally friendly vehicles.
Lutz, GM's outspoken product development chief, has been under fire from Internet bloggers since last month when he was quoted as making the remark to reporters in Texas.
In a posting on his GM blog on Thursday, Lutz said those "spewing virtual vitriol" at him for minimizing the threat of climate change were "missing the big picture."
"What they should be doing in earnest is forming opinions, not about me but about GM and what this company is doing that is ... hugely beneficial to the causes they so enthusiastically claim to support," he said in a posting titled, "Talk About a Crock."
GM, the largest U.S. automaker by sales and market share, has been trying to change its image after taking years of heat for relying too much on sales of large sport-utility vehicles like the Hummer and not moving faster on fuel-saving hybrid technology.
"My thoughts on what has or hasn't been the cause of climate change have nothing to do with the decisions I make to advance the cause of General Motors," he wrote.
Lutz said GM was continuing development of the battery-powered, plug-in Chevy Volt and other alternatives to traditional internal combustion engines.
GM is racing against Toyota Motor Corp to be first to market a plug-in hybrid car that can be recharged at a standard electric outlet.
Lutz has previously said GM made a mistake by allowing Toyota to seize "the mantle of green respectability and technology leadership" with its market-leading Prius hybrid.
A 40-year auto industry veteran who joined GM earlier in the decade with a mandate to shake up its vehicle line-up, Lutz is no stranger to controversy.
As part of a campaign against higher fuel economy standards, Lutz wrote in a 2006 blog posting that forcing automakers to sell smaller cars would be "like trying to address the obesity problem in this country by forcing clothing manufacturers to sell smaller, tighter sizes."
Automakers ended their opposition to higher fuel standards in 2007 when it became clear that proposed changes would become law with or without their support.
In December, President George W. Bush signed a law mandating a 40 percent increase in fleetwide fuel economy by 2020, the first substantial change in three decades.
(Reporting by Kevin Krolicki, editing by Toni Reinhold)

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