It was just a few years ago when the industry was biting its nails over whether or not General Motors would make it ... if it it would stop all of its assembly lines, and end an era for one of the Big Three.
That was before Bob Lutz, GM's vice chair, waved a magic wand (well, though it seems that way it was really a long, hard road of paring down the company, consolidating, creating individual images for each of GM's brands and turning the ship around).
Last year GM unveiled the Chevy Volt -- the front-page story from the Detroit show -- and this year it created another flurry of excitement with a plug-in hybrid Saturn Vue, and one of the best kept secrets of the show, the unveiling of the (hot!) Cadillac CTS coupe.
Yesterday a small group of Canadian journalists met with Mr. Lutz, and as always, most of us could have sat there for hours listening. Why? He's real. He'll answer any question (a rarity in this business), there's never a "no comment" from Lutz. He's genuine. He wants GM to succeed (he's in his 70s AND he's rich -- he's reportedly got two fighter jets that he's converted into personal aircraft, flying is a passion ... he really doesn't have to work). He uses both sides of his brain. He's a business person first and foremost, but he understands that good designs (the new Malibu and Cadillac CTS are both sold out -- yes, a U.S. automaker really does have a waiting list) sell vehicles.