"That shows that perceptions about General Motors are changing, especially among the media," said the septuagenarian executive, adding that positive coverage will help GM improve its image among potential buyers. "You can't do that with advertising anymore, even with all the money in the world." There's an internal payoff, as well, stressed Lutz. With the GM team "energized," he suggested, "that drives performance."
Even so, the vice chairman admitted there are some speedbumps in GM's path. Another surge in oil prices could hurt sales of the new Silverado and other full-size trucks. And while the company has trimmed about $9 billion out of its fixed, annual costs, it still has a severe cost penalty compared to competitors like GM. So-called "legacy" costs including retiree health care, puts the Detroit maker several thousand dollars behind the likes of Toyota in terms of what it costs to build a vehicle like the new Aura.