HIS NEW BOOK IS TITLED “CAR GUYS VS. Bean Counters: The Battle for the Soul of American Business,” but formerVice Chairman Bob Lutz has only good things to say about the financial executives currently in charge at GM.
“They don't have the 30-year history of being trained to run the automobile business in the U.S. the wrong way,” he says during a book-signing reception at the Ward's Auto Interiors Conference.
Lutz gives credit to current CEO Dan Akerson and his predecessor Ed Whitacre for setting the right priorities and creating financial controls that more accurately track the costs and profit margins of vehicles.
“I think the company is in good hands,” he says, complaining that GM lost market share for decades because it focused on the wrong targets and allowed financial analyses and projections to rule the day rather than product excellence.
“It was sad to see so many people expending so much effort doing the wrong things,” Lutz says.
When Ed Whitacre took the helm of GM following its bankruptcy and subsequent bailout by the U.S. government, Lutz says Whitacre insisted on one simple mission: designing and building the world's best cars and trucks. Akerson now is following through on Whitacre's initiative, Lutz says.
Lutz is less kind to Steven Rattner, who was appointed by President Obama to oversee the GM andbailouts. Rattner is considered to have rescued GM and Chrysler, but he was unpopular with industry insiders.
Among other things, Rattner questioned the relevancy of the Chevy Volt, a Lutz pet project. Rattner's book “Overhaul” calls Lutz overrated. Lutz says his book, on sale now, is not a response to Rattner.
Of GM's bankruptcy, Lutz says, “It's probably worth a good unbiased book by somebody, but that somebody would not be Steve Rattner.”