Convincing consumers to consider GM again is an ongoing struggle. "The only way we can do that is by producing compelling cars at high value," he tells Ward’s in an interview at the New York auto show here.
Lutz points to the Pontiac G6 and Solstice as the kind of vehicles that can achieve this goal. "They're going to be big sellers," he predicts, noting his goal is to see GM capture 30% of the market and pull away fromMotor Corp.
"People have seen the beginning of the GM (product) offensive," Lutz says. "There's a tremendous energy level among our people now. This is a great place (U.S. market) to do business."
GM had big export plans for Cadillac STS.
He predicts Buick will follow the Cadillac business model, but he admits that Saturn presents a big challenge. "We have to make Saturn cool again," Lutz says. "We let a lot of our brand equity (in Saturn) deteriorate, and we have to pour money into the brand to create great cars at astonishingly low prices.”
And the product guru believes GM can create American cars that are appealing overseas, as well. The Hummer H-3, for example, already is creating great interest in Europe. Indeed, he says there are more than 1,000 gray-market H-2s in Europe.
The Pontiac Solstice also is creating huge interest in Europe. Its size is more European, as are the fit and finish, he says.
He is most enthusiastic about GM’s ambitious export plans for the new Cadillac STS. "In (the next) five years, 25% of Cadillac's volume could be overseas," he says. "In 10 years, 50% of Cadillacs could be exported."
Most will go to Europe and the Middle East, but Japan and China will be good STS markets, he says, predicting that in a decade’s time, Cadillac could be selling more cars in China than in the U.S.
Lutz brushes off any discussion on the consequences if the Cadillac STS is not successful. “STS will be successful, Cadillac is cool again,” he says, adding that STS buyers pay less than they would for aor Mercedes model and enjoy a more solid car to drive.