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GM's vice chairman calls global warming a crock of sh**

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 

Ah yes, the auto industry.  Clearly an unbiased opinion on the science of climate change.  The excerpt below is from FrontBurner (Jan 30, 2008). 

 

----

 

Bob Lutz, General Motors’ vice chairman and chief car guru, says what really turns him on is “doing the unexpected”–acting “contrary to the conventional wisdom, forcing people to re-think their beliefs.” Maybe that’s why Lutz, who made his name developing behemoths like the V-10 Dodge Viper, is so sold on the fuel-efficient new Chevrolet Volt, which will run on a lithium-ion battery and could go on sale by 2010. “The Volt thrills me because it’s the last thing anybody expected from GM,” the ex-Marine said at a private lunch in Arlington today. If you’re into cars or the car business, jump to read more of Lutz’s contrarian beliefs.

 

During a closed-door session with several journalists at the Cacharel restaurant, Lutz declared that:

 

–Hybrid cars like those made by Toyota “make no economic sense,” because their price will never come down, and diesel autos like those touted by Chrysler are also uneconomic. The only place in Europe that diesel-driven cars are big, he said, is where diesel fuel is half the cost of regular gasoline; in most places there, the costs are comparable and diesel has little market penetration.

 

– Global warming is a “total crock of ****.” Then he added: “I’m a skeptic, not a denier. Having said that, my opinion doesn’t matter. (With the battery-driven Volt), “I’m motivated more by the desire to replace imported oil than by the CO2 (argument).”

post #2 of 23
Thread Starter 

Lutz responded to the wildfire-like spread of his "crock of" statement (and ensuing outrage).  From David Roberts over at Grist:

--

"A couple weeks back, GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz, at a roundtable with reporters, casually mentioned that he thinks global warming is a "crock of ****." (His point was that it makes sense to develop an all-electric vehicle either way.)

 

Lots and lots of people, mainly bloggers, got in a huge uproar about it.

 

Yesterday, Lutz wrote a defiant post on GM's blog addressing the controversy. His point is that it doesn't matter a bit what his personal beliefs are; what matters is what he does, and what GM does. And he claims GM is on the ball:

 

General Motors is dedicated to the removal of cars and trucks from the environmental equation, period. And, believe it or don't: So am I! It's the right thing to do, for us, for you and, yes, for the planet. My goal is to take the automotive industry out of the debate entirely. GM is working on just that -- and we're going to keep working on it -- via E85, hybrids, hydrogen and fuel cells, and the electrification of the automobile.

...

We're going forward with these programs because it makes good sense to do so -- common sense. If it's doable, why wouldn't we do it? It would lead to nothing but good things: energy independence, lower emissions, and better air. Isn't that what we all want?

I guess as an "environmental blogger" (ugh) I'm supposed to have my a** on my shoulders about this, but I gotta say ... I'm with Lutz. Who cares what he thinks?

 

I'm not in the Thought Police business. It's not my place to demand loyalty oaths or try to enforce my own sort of orthodoxy. If he wants to be a dimwit on climate science, happy trails to him.

All that matters is what GM does. That's a perfectly legitimate subject for debate. But what's in Lutz's heart? I really don't care. He's not my friend, or my debate partner."  (Gristmill, 22 Feb 2008)


Edited by stins - Wed, 20 Aug 2008 16:58:49 GMT


Edited by stins - Wed, 20 Aug 2008 17:18:17 GMT
post #3 of 23

This is another example of ‘why does it matter?’ I mean, this is like the people who buy themselves a spot in the HOV lane. They may not even give a hoot about any environmental concerns, but does it really matter? To the research and development of new ideas, no. Yeah, it would be nice to have people care, but it just ain’t gonna happen, in some cases, so isn’t it better to at least have their financial support?

 

The idea of this guy’s beliefs on global warming or anything else, in my opinion, is/are irrelevant. It’s kinda like my belief that peace is not possible and people who chase after it only waste resources on a fantasy when their efforts/resources could be applied to something productive, such as alternative fuels. Does it really matter what I believe if I am working to further the same ideas you are?

 

I think this guy calling him a dimwit because of different beliefs is really a good way for someone like me to stop listening because he sounds like an arrogant a**. I mean, is someone a dimwit for their belief or non-belief in the God of the Christian Bible. They can’t possibly know such things.

 

Global warming is supported by a lot of scientific opinion, but so are dinosaurs, which were elaborate, detailed creatures created out of incomplete skeletons. Science can be arrogant enough to ASSume a lot of things, but it’s really just ignorant, to me, to belittle someone because of your ‘belief’. There have been countless wars for thousands of years of history and lots of people dying for the same BS mentality.

 

John


Edited by stins - Wed, 20 Aug 2008 17:18:37 GMT
post #4 of 23

Well I do agree that as long as he's pursuing alternative fuel technologies, Lutz's personal opinions on global warming or any other issue don't really matter.  The good news is that the market is demanding green vehicles, and GM is finally waking up and responding to the demand.

 

That being said, I think calling Lutz a "dimwit" is perfectly justified considering some of his comments.  Take this one for example.

 

"Global warming is a “total crock of ****...I’m a skeptic, not a denier. "

 

Okay look, the definition of a skeptic is someone who keeps an open mind.  If you've arrived at the conclusion that any issue is a crock of **** - particularly one with the overwhelming amount of evidence that anthropogenic global warming (AGW) has - you're not keeping an open mind.

 

There is a slim possibility that the AGW theory is wrong (and so is evolution, gravitation, etc.), but to call it a "crock of ****" is a pretty dimwitted comment.

 

Another rather unintelligent comment from Lutz was this one:

 

"General Motors is dedicated to the removal of cars and trucks from the environmental equation"

 

Cars and trucks are never going to be "removed from the environmental equation".  They're always going to require energy, and that energy always has to come from somewhere and will have some sort of environmental impact.  You can make them greener and less environmentally controversial, but they'll always be part of the "equation".

 

In the end I think Dave Roberts said it well.  Lutz is a bit of a dimwit, but as long as he's doing the right thing, it doesn't really matter if he's doing it for the wrong reasons.




Edited by stins - Wed, 20 Aug 2008 17:00:38 GMT
post #5 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by dana1981:

Well I do agree that as long as he's pursuing alternative fuel technologies, Lutz's personal opinions on global warming or any other issue don't really matter.  The good news is that the market is demanding green vehicles, and GM is finally waking up and responding to the demand.

 

That being said, I think calling Lutz a "dimwit" is perfectly justified considering some of his comments.  Take this one for example.

 

"Global warming is a “total crock of ****...I’m a skeptic, not a denier. "

 

Okay look, the definition of a skeptic is someone who keeps an open mind.  If you've arrived at the conclusion that any issue is a crock of **** - particularly one with the overwhelming amount of evidence that anthropogenic global warming (AGW) has - you're not keeping an open mind.

 

There is a slim possibility that the AGW theory is wrong (and so is evolution, gravitation, etc.), but to call it a "crock of ****" is a pretty dimwitted comment.

 

Another rather unintelligent comment from Lutz was this one:

 

"General Motors is dedicated to the removal of cars and trucks from the environmental equation"

 

Cars and trucks are never going to be "removed from the environmental equation".  They're always going to require energy, and that energy always has to come from somewhere and will have some sort of environmental impact.  You can make them greener and less environmentally controversial, but they'll always be part of the "equation".

 

In the end I think Dave Roberts said it well.  Lutz is a bit of a dimwit, but as long as he's doing the right thing, it doesn't really matter if he's doing it for the wrong reasons.

 

ok, you gotta good point on this one.

 

John



Edited by stins - Wed, 20 Aug 2008 17:01:01 GMT
post #6 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by NavyJohn

 

ok, you gotta good point on this one.

 

John


Thanks.

 

My main point with regards to the "dimwit" comment is that it's fine to be skeptical of the AGW theory, which is the case for many people who have not studied the scientific evidence.  There's nothing wrong with healthy skepticism (in fact all scientists are inherently skeptical), particularly if you're willing to explore the issue with an open mind.

 

When you call an issue "a crock of ****" - that is not skepticism, that displays a certainty that the theory is completely wrong.

 

To claim that the AGW is "a crock of ****" by itself is a dimwitted comment.  I'm not saying it's the most perfect theory ever developed, but it's cearly not "a crock of ****".  For Lutz to make this claim and then say that he's a skeptic not a denier is a further display of dimwittedness.  For the GM vice chairman and chief car guru to think that cars can be "remov[ed]...from the environmental equation" is a third dimwitted comment.

 

So I think it's pretty clear that yes, Lutz is a dimwit.  But the Chevy Volt is a pretty cool car.


Edited by dana1981 - Wed, 12 Mar 2008 20:00:48 UTC



Edited by stins - Wed, 20 Aug 2008 17:01:52 GMT
post #7 of 23

hmmm. tough one.

he claims global warming is a crock, but wants to reduce our dependence on oil. so, in a way, it's really not a bad thing. anything to do to reduce our oil consumption is fine with me. who cares if he's an idiot, he's actually doing some good without knowing it. I dunno...any reduction is a good reduction, no matter the reason I guess. at least for this exact random act.

post #8 of 23

This is from AutoblogGreen two days ago.  (This is just an excerpt.  The link to the full article is at the bottom.)

 


Wall Street Journal blogs about GM CEO Rick Wagoner recent talk to reporters in Washington about GM chairman Bob Lutz's recent comment that global warming is "a total crock of sh*t." Wagoner backed away from the comment, saying that "the comments weren't coming out of the company" and "I would have preferred to pass on the comment." Wagoner didn't back away from Lutz, though, calling him "the clear leader of GM's push to develop extended-range battery-powered hybrid vehicles."

So, what does Wagoner think about global warming? Wagoner says "the data is pretty clear that the temperature on the earth is rising." Saying the globe is warming is quite different than saying humans are a significant contributer to that warming. The "non-confrontational" Wagoner, as the Journal describes him, has never said he believes in global warming or not (see 37 minutes into the video below the fold).

 

[Read the full article at ABG]

 


Edited by eli - Fri, 21 Mar 2008 23:35:31 GMT
post #9 of 23

If GM and the other US car manufacturers didn't spend 380 million dollars lobbying congress to do among other things, defeat the increase in CAFE standards, they would not be in this fix. You can make more money selling big cars than you do selling small cars. The US auto makers are getting the crap kicked out of them because they were short sighted, addicted to selling SUVs and not ready for the spike in gas prices. No wonder Mr. Lutz is in a bad mood. Toyota was ready and if I was a GM stockholder, I'd call that the real crock of sh**.

 

 

post #10 of 23

Hah it's true, GM has done everything it could to delay the move toward fuel efficiency.  I read someone at GM saying if they had continued developing the technology after the EV1, they could have had the Volt a decade earlier.  GM had a big advantage in EV technology and they blew it.  Now they're playing catch-up.

 

That's why it bugs me when people criticize others for not buying American cars.  I'll tell you what, when American car companies start making fuel efficient cars, then I'll consider buying them!


Edited by dana1981 - Tue, 1 Jul 2008 15:43:05 UTC
post #11 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by D0xunt:

If GM and the other US car manufacturers didn't spend 380 million dollars lobbying congress to do among other things, defeat the increase in CAFE standards, they would not be in this fix. You can make more money selling big cars than you do selling small cars.

 

 

But do you think that's GM's fault?  I think they were just reacting to their customers.  I don't think they really want to built big, fuel inefficient vehicles, they just want to built what people will buy.  The problem is with the American consumer.

 

I totally agree that GM has a total lack of foresight though.  You would think they would have learned from the 70s when they weren't prepared for the increase in gas prices.  That's what allowed the Hondas and Toyotas to get a foothold in the US market in the first place.

post #12 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by teej:

But do you think that's GM's fault?  I think they were just reacting to their customers.  I don't think they really want to built big, fuel inefficient vehicles, they just want to built what people will buy.  The problem is with the American consumer.


 

It's both.  It's true Americans weren't demanding fuel efficient cars back when gas was cheap, but it's also true that GM would rather build larger cars because they have a bigger profit margin.

 

Definitely a lack of foresight though.  Even if there wasn't a big market for electric vehicles, there was certainly a market, and GM could have been developing the technology all along.

post #13 of 23

GM developed EVs in the 90s and nobody wanted them. I don't think you can blame them for "lack of foresight". They are in the business of making money and you can't do that unless you sell what the market wants. SUVs were the hip thing for the stereotypical 90s outdoorsy yuppies and that's who had the purchasing power. So that's what GM and others made. They did all the right things. That's how business works. And that's why Tesla and the other small EV companies have a real chance of disrupting them, especially if they redefine the concept of automotive manufacturing (in-store assembly is a brilliant idea if you ask me)

 

 

 

 

post #14 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by PeterA650:

GM developed EVs in the 90s and nobody wanted them. I don't think you can blame them for "lack of foresight".

 

 

 


 

That's not true.  You can argue that not a lot of people wanted them (this is difficult to quantify), but you can't argue that nobody wanted them.  There clearly was demand for the EV1.

 

The rest of your argument doesn't show that GM didn't lack foresight, it shows that GM didn't lack current-sight.

 

The bottom line is that the internal combustion engine relies on oil, which is a finite resource.  China began developing rapidly around 2000, and if they had foresight, GM could have seen that gas prices weren't going to stay at $2/gallon forever.  If they had continued putting some funding into EV R&D instead of scrapping the program, GM could have been an industry leader right now rather than scrambling to catch up to the Japanese companies.

post #15 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by dana1981:
Quote:
Originally Posted by PeterA650:

GM developed EVs in the 90s and nobody wanted them. I don't think you can blame them for "lack of foresight".

 

 

 


 

That's not true.  You can argue that not a lot of people wanted them (this is difficult to quantify), but you can't argue that nobody wanted them.  There clearly was demand for the EV1.

 

The rest of your argument doesn't show that GM didn't lack foresight, it shows that GM didn't lack current-sight.

 

The bottom line is that the internal combustion engine relies on oil, which is a finite resource.  China began developing rapidly around 2000, and if they had foresight, GM could have seen that gas prices weren't going to stay at $2/gallon forever.  If they had continued putting some funding into EV R&D instead of scrapping the program, GM could have been an industry leader right now rather than scrambling to catch up to the Japanese companies.

 

If GM lacked foresight, they would never have invested in an electric vehicle in the first place. That's the argument I'm making. There were *some* visionary people there that could read the tea leaves and they made an effort. They were squashed by the same mechanism that rewards sustaining over disruptive innovation in big companies: Stock valuation.

 

And let's not forget pension plans...

 

 

 


Edited by petera650 - Thu, 17 Jul 2008 16:43:53 GMT
post #16 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by PeterA650:

If GM lacked foresight, they would never have invested in an electric vehicle in the first place. That's the argument I'm making. There were *some* visionary people there that could read the tea leaves and they made an effort. They were squashed by the same mechanism that rewards sustaining over disruptive innovation in big companies: Stock valuation.

 

And let's not forget pension plans...



 

That's not true either.  All auto manufacturers (including GM) were dragged into developing EVs kicking and screaming by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) requiring them (until they later dropped the requirement).

 

The difference was that most auto manufacturers said up front 'we're only making these because CARB is requiring them, we're only going to allow them to be leased, and we're going to scrap them once the requirement is met'.  GM did the same thing, but they didn't say they would beforehand, so people thought they were taking the technology seriously.

 

There was no foresight involved with the EV1, but it did turn out to be a pretty nice car.

post #17 of 23

Going back to the "does it matter" question, I think it does because the last thing I want to do is reward someone like Lutz who only had $$$ in his eyes.  The points been made that GM could have had them sooner, lobbied agains them and was for the most part not very visionary. 

 

What I don't understand is what was the connection all along with Cars and Gas?  Why were car companies so vehemently opposed to alternative fuels.  They didn't own the fuel companies or vice-versa so what was the big deal?  Why wasn't it done sooner?

 

No mistake who I'm voting for this election but damnit if we did not have 8 years of Clinton/Gore when this could have been pushed a little more than it was (yes, I remeber Newt and the republican congress but that came later, there was still time when everything was Dem).  Urggh.   Sorry to bring politics into this but damnit, if it was a law it would have been done already (eg catalytic converters, air bags, seat belts)

post #18 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by jgroves:

 

What I don't understand is what was the connection all along with Cars and Gas?  Why were car companies so vehemently opposed to alternative fuels.  They didn't own the fuel companies or vice-versa so what was the big deal?  Why wasn't it done sooner?

 


 

Well I recently heard someone make a very good point that the auto industry is based on the internal combustion engine.  That's the primary technology, and the rest of the car is totally secondary.  Sure you can put any engine/motor/fuel you want within the body of the car, but you need the technology to make use of it.  The auto industry's technology is the internal combustion engine, so they're very resistant to moving away from gas.

 

Now of course they have some experience with electric motors thanks to CARB requiring them for that brief period, and they've done some research on hydrogen and biofuels, etc.  But their bread and butter has long been the internal combustion engine.  The technology has been developed for a long time, and before gas prices skyrocketed, most people were totally happy with it.  That's why it's taken so long to move away from it.

post #19 of 23

certianly, no point in reinventing the wheel when wheels work just fine. Cheap gas kept the internal combustion engine as the standard.

post #20 of 23

Via Treehugger

 

Lutz is at it again.  The one Colbert Report I missed this week due to a late softball game!  Lutz was interviewed and said that he doesn't "believe in the CO2 theory" and adds that "32,000 of the world's leading scientists think sun spots are to blame."

 

The latter quote probably refers to the widely debunked Oregon Petition, signed by around 31,000 people the second time around (the first version had around 17,000 signatures, including many fraudulent ones like Dr. (Spice Girl) Geri Haliwell - twice.  The only criterion for people to sign the petition is to have any college degree in any scientific-related field, which makes it less than 0.1% of the available population, as discussed in the 'Lists of Skeptical Scientists' section of the Global Warming Skepticism wiki.

 

Plus the Oregon Petition doesn't blame sunspots.  Plus sunspots don't directly impact the Earth's climate in any way - they're merely proxies (indicators) of solar influences which do, like solar irradiance.

 

Suffice it to say that Lutz would be smart to stick to talking about the Volt and keep his mouth shut about global warming.

 

 


Edited by dana1981 - Fri, 19 Sep 2008 19:15:05 UTC
post #21 of 23

Given the importance of fossil fuels to the automotive industry and what it has done to the country over the last 100 years in terms of helping to degrade the environment, is it any wonder? 

post #22 of 23

Thank you for sharing. This is very interesting. 

post #23 of 23

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