Lutz: Akerson not sacrificing quality for speed

Media portrayals of General Motors CEO Dan Akerson tend to hit on a theme: He demands things get done faster than GM has traditionally done them.

"Why should it take four years to put a car out?" Akerson told The Wall Street Journal in January.

But the view that Akerson is impatient with product development is overblown, says former GM product chief Bob Lutz.

"Dan Akerson is getting a bad rap because there is this rumor that he wants everything faster, faster, faster," Lutz said Thursday at the New York auto show. "It's not true."

Akerson said this week that he sees no need to accelerate the rollout of GM's next full-sized pickups amid spiking gasoline prices.

GM CEO Dan Akerson, center, is getting a bad rap because of media perceptions he wants everything faster faster faster,” Bob Lutz, the automaker's former product chief, said this week. Photo credit: BLOOMBERG

Lutz, who said he has agreed to informally consult with GM on product development, said he knows of only one vehicle program that Akerson has pressed engineering and manufacturing to accelerate: the redesigned 2013 Malibu, which was unveiled this week.

"He asked a very intelligent question: Why is it coming out so much earlier in Korea and China than in the U.S.?" Lutz said.

Akerson wasn't satisfied with the answer he received from his staff, according to Lutz, so the CEO pushed to speed the U.S. launch.

GM has said the introduction of the new Malibu was pushed up by about six months, to early next year.

Lutz summed it up this way: "Dan Akerson is not about to put quality at risk in the interest of timing."

GM North America chief Mark Reuss with the 2013 Malibu. GM CEO Dan Akerson pressed the automaker's engineering and manufacturing staffs to accelerate the rollout of the mid-sized sedan. Photo credit: GM

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