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Triple Lutz


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3. February 2014

No, that headline is not a reference to a now somewhat passé move that will be performed during the 2014 Olympic Winter Games Figure Skating competitions. Rather, it refers to Robert A. Lutz, a.k.a., Maximum Bob, and his appearance last week on “Autoline After Hours.”

As viewers of the show know, AAH generally consists of three segments during its more-or-less 60-minute run. The first 20 consists of the journalists talking about things that have garnered their attention during the week (in the case of the show in question, Todd Lassa of Automobile joins host John McElroy and new co-host, me). Then the next two 20-minute blocks include the guest, who fields questions from the panel, and then questions from the viewers during the last 20-odd minutes. (That adjective goes to the minutes, not to some oddity of what occurs. Generally speaking.)

Lutz, Bob

But when you have Bob Lutz on the show, things change. And so it is a Triple Lutz: he is part of AAH for the entire 60 minutes.

Among the topics he discusses are:

--VL Automotive. A company that Lutz and his partner Gilbert Villarreal have established (according to Lutz, Villarreal had suggested that the name be based on alphabetical order, or LV, but Lutz pointed out that Louis Vuitton might take exception). VL Automotive is offering to the market the Destino, which is a Fisker Karma body out of which the powertrain (extended-range electric) is removed and replaced with a 638-hp Corvette V8.

Destino

--VL Productions. Watches, Lutz explains, are like luxury cars: items that are valued because they are special. Lutz suggests that if all of the badges were removed from cars from Mercedes, BMW, Audi, etc., the specialness that they evoke would be diminished. So, yes, Lutz is now involved in producing high-end wrist watches that are produced in Michigan, with Swiss movements (Lutz, incidentally, was born in Zurich).

--Ford’s big bet on aluminum. He suggests that were he still vice chairman at GM, he might not have been bullish on going with a high-volume model like the F-150 is for Ford with a whole new approach to materials use. Perhaps a lower-volume car. (He candidly admits that he is on the board of NanoSteel, a company that is developing steel that’s strong, light and comparatively more economical.)

--CAFE. While Lutz is a proponent of a gas tax rather than a regulation like CAFE, and while he is convinced that there is no dearth of available petroleum in the U.S. to power everything from Destinos to whatever, he explains why lifting the 2025 mandate would not be a good idea.

--Mary Barra and Mark Reuss. As a man who has spent a considerable fraction of his 51 years in the auto industry in executive suites, who has written a book on leadership (Icons and Idiots), and who knows both Barra and Reuss, his observations on the two are informed and incisive.

And there’s plenty more.

Which you can watch, here:

 


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