Posted by: David Kiley on August 13, 2007
If Lee Iacocca has one thing to answer for, it’s letting his personal feelings about Bob Lutz get in the way of naming the auto exec CEO when he had the chance.
Iacocca instead turned to Bob Eaton who brokered the deal to sell Chrysler to the Germans.
Lutz would have been the right guy to lead Chrysler out of its old ways and into the 21st century. More importantly, its clear to me that he has done a much better job of cleaning up General Motors’ models than the geniuses at Mercedes-Benz did in cleaning up Chrysler’s.
The products that Lutz has had a chance to bring to market with a clean sheet of paper—the new crossover SUVs like the Saturn Outlook and GMC Acadia, the Pontiac Solstice, redesigned Cadillaac CTS, Chevy Tahoe—are head and shoulders above Chrysler’s newest developed and brought to market by the Germans. I’m talking about the Dodge Nitro, Chrysler Sebring, Jeep Compass, etc. And it’s worth noting that GM and Chysler were working with the same set of difficult healthcare cost problems and efforts to lower costs. In terms of execution, there is a lot of daylight between GM’s newest and Chrysler’s newest.
Iacocca recently wrote a book, titled, “Where have All The Leaders Gone?” I have a question for the former iconic CEO. It is well known that you passed over Lutz because you thought he was too much of a hot-dog when it came to the press. But even back in the early 1990s when the process of succession was an issue, why couldn’t you look beyond your own prejudices of personality and recognize the man’s talent for developing cars and trucks, and getting others to line up behind him.
Lutz’s leadership at GM is very apparent. In fact, GM’s biggest headache is recognizing someone who can follow Lutz. He is such a powerful leader, he will be a tough act to follow. Mr. Iacocca…Pity you couldn’t have recognized that. A real leader would have.