Vice chairman Robert Lutz, with all due respect to Mark Reuss, is the closest thing GM has to an all-around car-guy executive. And Lutz announced on March 3 that he will retire May 1. Among theories floated was the idea of arising at 04:30 everyday could get old, which doesn't ring true coming from a U.S. Marine, and even if it did, a man who can fly himself to work surely could sleep in occasionally.
My inner pessimist was amused by the timing. A week earlier, GM supported legislation requiring event data recorders in every new vehicle. This was coincident with Toyota EDR questions and society-at-large and the mainstream press's mistaken impressions that EDR are the same "black boxes" as orange flight data recorders on commercial aircraft.
I have to think that Lutz was growing bored with a Board packing in former AT&T personnel and relentless management shuffling. A friend who's dealt with GM vehicles for years, often buying in chunks of tens or hundreds, asked the other day who's in charge at GM and I couldn't give him a good answer. Cadillac dealers told last year to wind down are now being told to stay open, perhaps because Caddy sales dropped like a rock without them. All that hoopla about people being responsible and accountable resonates hollow when they're constantly moved about.
When I began in this business it was three years before I drove a GM test vehicle where everything worked for the duration of the loan. I know they've made huge strides in product, but if the headlines are all about who's running the store (this month) the product remains secondary in mind.
GM and Ford have new emissions-driven heavy-duty pickups this year, and the battle started at the Texas State Fair last year: Ford claimed best load and towing ratings. A few months later, Chevy unveiled the Silverado HD with some impressive tow and load ratings (the highest rear GAWR matches Ram's), but like Ford in Texas GM did not announce power ratings, and then Chevy taunted Dearborn with this line: "It should be noted that, while Ford claimed segment-leading trailering and payload during its recent announcement of the 2011 Super Duty models, no towing ratings were issued."