GM's Robert Lutz: Car czar needs hits
The GTO, an Australian car lightly reworked for North America, was Lutz's baby. It has languished in Pontiac showrooms, slowed by a $33,495 sticker and ho-hum styling.
But it's unfair to pass judgment on Lutz on the mediocre showing of one low-volume vehicle.
Lutz's influence is only beginning to filter into GM's products because many recent products were under way when he arrived three years ago next month.
The first all-Lutz product arrives this fall with the Buick LaCrosse, which will replace the Century and Regal.
The Lutz era begins in earnest next year with such inspirations as the Pontiac Solstice, a rear-drive roadster, and the replacement for the Buick LeSabre. A second rear-drive platform for large sedans debuts in the 2007 model year.
Meanwhile, GM insiders say Lutz ordered substantial design tweaks for the 2005 Cadillac STS, especially to the roof height and vertical sides, which arrives this fall. Lutz also influenced the design of the 2005 Pontiac G6, 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt and 2005 Chevrolet Corvette, all in the works before he arrived.
GM sources say Lutz's influence is showing up in a lot of ways that are less dramatic than exterior design. Lutz is keeping the pressure on to improve interiors, jettisoning cheap interior plastics.
But for the full Lutz effect, wait until next year.