A former top GM executive and avowed gearhead warns against the advance of soulless number-crunchers clueless about the hands-on details of the car business.
To Lutz (Guts: 8 Laws of Business from One of the Most Innovative Business Leaders of Our Time, 2003), it’s not rocket science: Design and build the cars and trucks that customers want, and the rest will fall into place. This was his job as a GM vice chairman from 2001 to 2010. At the table—if not running the meeting—when most of the big decisions came down, the author, now in his late 70s, was often appalled by youthful bean-counting MBAs with their 4.0 GPAs but no common car sense. What matters, Lutz argues, is having on board at least one automotive artist with the talent to design desirable new cars. The author’s talent, equally rare, was recognizing a good design, or a bad one drawn to bean-counter specs. His frequent criticism of the press is sometimes churlish, as when he alleges that unnecessarily harsh and ill-informed lefty journalism gave the Hummer H2—on which he signed off—an unjustifiably bad rep. He closes with the recognition that having a media-savvy, talking-head CEO is now a must and in the best interest of the business in which he worked for 47 years. The author also predicts GM’s battery-and-gas-powered Volt will dominate the highways of the future, and he includes close accounts of GM’s 2009 bankruptcy, government bailout and subsequent reemergence as a trimmed-down shadow of its former corporate self.
Well worth the ride—if not necessarily the car.