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Monday, September 14, 2009

Lutz "Best Car" Chat

Bob Lutz had a web chat on the topic of the new GM "return it if you don't like it" marketing campaign, "May The Best Car Win". A few things that I noticed (my creative interpretation in red):

[Comment From Matteo Ronzoni ]
Hi Bob! I realy liked gm latest ad w/ whitacre but I'm not sure if the May the best car win can apply to the chevy aveo...when is the replacement due?
Bob Lutz: You'll notice that the Chevy Aveo, sound little car that it is, is not featured in the ads. Its replacement is on the way, and it's going to be sensational, done by an international product development team. Obviously, we're not revealing exact launch timing.
Yeah, you got me there. Aveo sucks.

[Comment From Aldo ]
Hi Mr. Lutz: Do you think it's going to be difficult to effectively market both Buick and Cadillac to upscale crowds if Cadillac continues to blurry brand identity by having more front wheel drive vehicles, just like Buick?
Bob Lutz: We don't think so. Cadillac will be much more tuned, chassis-wise, to take on the German marqes, while Buick will be aimed at Lexus. Both brands will have AWD offerings, so the question of rear- vs front- will be moot.
Cadillac = FWD Mercedes, Buick = Lincoln
[Comment From Herb Shuldiner ]
What percent of Saturn, Pontiac and Hummer customers do you think GM will retain, or do you concede they will be lost to domestic and import competitors.
Bob Lutz: The goal is all of them but that's obviously not realistic. If we could keep 50% or more we would declare victory.
Lutz is admitting that most of Saturn, Pontiac and Hummer customers are lost to GM. This is interesting (and bad news for GM).

[Comment From Ed ]
What is GM doing to appeal to a youth culture. Example: The 2004-06 GTO was, for all intensive purposes a failure in a marketing sense. Yet, now that they're available in a youth price range (sub 20k) they've started to explode in re-sale. Will GM be doing anything to appeal to the sub $20k muscle car market? Like it did in the good ole days.
Bob Lutz: The only reason for the GTO's lack of sales was a serious rise in the Australian dollar that caused us to have to price it over $30K, as opposed to our original intent of mid-$20s. Regardless of all the negative media coverage at the time, it was and is a great and rewarding car to drive, and the owners have a legitimate and wonderful piece of muscle car history. That is apt not to be repeated due to new fuel economy regulations which will drastically inhibit the production of large-engined high horsepower cars.
The end of cheap high-output engines is nigh.

[Comment From ]
Mr. Lutz, looking 5 years out, how concerned are you about the Chinese manufacturers entering the U.S. market?
Bob Lutz: Not as concerned as i was about the Japanese and Koreans, because unlike those situations, we participate fully in the Chinese automotive industry. If Chinese imports to the US dominate, we will be able to participate in that.
We'll build in China and import to the U.S. if we have to.

[Comment From Sheth ]
what can we expect to see in terms of print ads going forward? Will other products have comparison charts like Equinox ads?
Bob Lutz: Equinox will probably wind up being compared to Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 as well as the Ford Escape hybrid, all of which Equinox trounces roundly. And yes, other products will have comparisons.
The Equinox trounces the Escape HEV? Sort of, but not always. The EPA numbers for Equinox FWD are 22/32 City/Highway , AWD are 20/29. Escape Hybrid is FWD is 34/31, AWD is 29/27. So Equinox "trounces" Escape Hybrid on the highway, but not city or combined.

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