Thursday, January 11, 2007

Lutz: GM’s Image is Changing

Images aren't easy to change, but there's little doubt that General Motors' got a real boost from this year's North American International Auto Show, said the automaker's outspoken car czar, Bob Lutz. It has received wide praise for its new models, as well as kudos jurors on the North American Car and Truck of the Year jury who picked the Chevrolet Silverado as top truck and the Saturn Aura as best car during the opening session of the Detroit Auto Show.

"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.

Read the full article at The ..

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