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Interview: Maximum Bob – Part two

10 months ago

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Writer:

Mel Nichols | Journalist

Date:

18 August 2023

At the 2001 Detroit Auto Show, Bob Lutz sounded off about the poor design of many of the show cars. They seemed to come, he said, from ‘the trash compactor school of design’. Many of the worst came courtesy of General Motors, with the ‘atrociously ugly’ Pontiac Aztek top of the list.

Lutz had been out of the car business for two-and-a-half years. Since he’d been ‘encouraged’ to retire from Chrysler in 1998 when it merged with Daimler-Benz, he’d been trying to salvage fraud-shredded Exide Technologies.

But his words must have struck a chord with GM CEO Rick Wagoner. A year into the top job, Wagoner was starting to understand that while GM was awash in data, had pristine control systems and America’s brightest young MBAs wall-to-wall, there was something terribly wrong with its cars. Dull, dull, dull to downright dreadful – witness the Aztek. Not for nothing was it chosen to star in Breaking Bad to symbolise what its anti-hero Walter White’s life had become.

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