In 2001, eight months before he was hired by General Motors to become new product czar, Bob Lutz dismissed some adventurous designs at the Detroit auto show as “angry appliances.” To the delight of the press, he said some looked like trash compactors and snowplows. He didn't name names, but some of his barbs clearly were aimed at concepts shown by the struggling DaimlerChrysler Corp., which had just fired President Jim Holden and was going through a gut-wrenching reorganization. The ...

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