When Bob Lutz has his product revelations atCorp., he probably won’t have a hard time getting the funding he wants.
Mr. Lutz is a good friend of a GM Chief Financial Officer John Devine, another relatively recent hire by CEO Rick Wagoner.
Company insiders suggest Mr. Devine played an important part in Mr. Lutz’s arrival at GM. How else could an automaker that’s so notoriously stingy on vehicle programs be an attractive destination to a product czar who has built a career on eccentric cars and trucks? With Mr. Devine at the financial controls, it will be easier for Mr. Lutz to find adequate cash resources for a vehicle that might not promise high volumes and enormous profits -- but delivers the customer passion GM’s lacks.
With GM’s sleepy product lineup and Mr. Lutz’s disdain for brand management, there’s speculation design chief Wayne Cherry and Ron Zarrella, head of GM’s North American operations, might be on the way out. But Mr. Lutz highly respects Mr. Cherry’s work at Opel. And they got off to a great start last week when Mr. Lutz called Mr. Cherry and asked for some design sketches. Mr. Cherry was elated to have a vice chairman asking for design drafts. The two men plan on getting together later this month at the Concours de Elegance car show in Pebble Beach, CA.
As for Mr. Zarrella, some believe his days are numbered. “I can see him already in my rear view mirror,” says one industry observer. But a key GM insider says that might not be so. “Ron is really tight with Rick,” the insider points out.