The last temptation is the greatest treason:
To do the right deed for the wrong reason.
— T.S. Eliot
Murder in the Cathedral
Bob Lutz's team is turning out one terrific vehicle after another, and General Motors is also earning some credibility in fuel economy.
Lutz's team is developing a plug-in hybrid that will play a central role in GM's brand values. GM wants to be known as part of the solution, not the problem.
And then Bob Lutz tells a bunch of reporters, supposedly off the record, that human-caused global warming is "a total crock of shit."
Imagine the cringing over in Steve Harris' public relations department.
Lutz's defense? Hey, I'm allowed to have my own well-researched views. And the fact that global warming is a hoax doesn't change GM's commitment to being a leader on fuel economy.
No, but it does change consumers' attitudes toward GM. And those attitudes are as important as the hardware GM turns out.
Even while Toyota cranks out big, V-8-powered trucks, it relentlessly positions itself as the fuel economy company, on the side of the angels.
But if GM is investing in fuel-saving technology only because the darned government, snookered by that damned Al Gore, is raising standards and the darned marketplace wants fuel economy, that's just business.
Well, all other things being equal, consumers prefer the side of the angels.
Let's explore two issues here: Lutz's stunning leadership of GM's product development organization — along with the related issue of what happens after Lutz — and his attitude toward environmental challenges.