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Listening to Customer Not Always Best, Says Lutz

Battery cars likely to remain niche, warns GM Vice Chairman.

by on Jan.13, 2010

The customer, says GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz, isn't always right. And sometimes you can't listen to what they say if you want to give them what they actually want.

The customer is always right.  Or so goes the old saw.  But General Motors Vice Chairman Bob Lutz says it’s not always a good idea to listen to the customer.

Without a clear point of view, a manufacturer risks developing bland products that no one really wants, warned “Maximum Bob,” during a conversation at the 2010 North American International Auto Show.  Just consider the last three generations of Cadillac’s once cutting-edge STS sedan.

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Until recently, the mantra of GM’s product development process was not to offend anyone, explained Lutz, so the company would look for so-called “dis-satisfers,” and eliminate them from its vehicles.  Lutz likened it to the pizza shop that kept eliminating ingredients because someone didn’t like anchovies and someone else didn’t like pepperoni.  Eventually, it wound up with nothing but dough.