A lot of people contact me every day. Most get a casual reply, as it’s hard to spend a lot of time responding when I’ve always got 15 things to do and 40 emails to blast out. August 4, 2009 was an exception, I received a message on GMTruckClub.com with the title “INVITATION: GM Product Technology Event - August 10, 2009”. Huh, you don’t see that every day. It took me about 10 seconds to think through it – will I be there? Yes. Yes, I will. Breakfast in Troy I woke up in my hotel in Troy, Michigan on the morning of the 10th and hurried downstairs to a buffet breakfast for attendees. I found a room full of folks chowing down on hearty Midwest grub, engaging in polite conversation. I sat next to a documentary film maker from California and a guy from Atlanta who did PR for software companies. There were rumors of attendees with big blogs, heavy twitter users and maybe a forum guy or two. Hah, I said nothing! There were also people with no automotive interests at all. We chatted, trying to figure out who were all were and why GM took the time and spent the money to bring us all together. What’s the connection between us? It was like GM’s version of LOST - seriously. Meeting Fritz Henderson at the "GM Customer Event" Going to GM Technical Center in Warren I was told the number of total participants was about 100. Yeah, that’s about right. It took a small line of shuttles (worst shuttle ride of my life – NOT freeway-speed shuttles) to move everyone to the GM Technical center in Warren. We got into the building, took a look at three or four GM vehicles on display and mingled some more. Oh, and there were NO CAMERAS signs when we walked in with security folks around to enforce that. Camera phone??? Have to tag it to block the lens. Interesting! I talked with GM’s Kelly Wysocki for a minute, I had previously twittered back and forth with her about the Silverado Hybrid. Next, I chatted up a guy who was the chief of staff for a former Mayor of Albuquerque. Again I wondered what the common thread between us was. Let’s Get This Party Started Right At about 8:30 AM we were ushered into a sloping theatre-style media room. Bob Lutz was introduced and presented his opening remarks. Bob Lutz is the vice-Chairman of GM and also the (un-official?) Chief Creative Officer. Highlights from Bob Lutz's opening remarks: Making Money. What's the most important element for GM to make money? “Great cars, trucks and crossovers.” (No mention of SUVs) Problems Fixed. Over the last five years, problems with GM products have been “fixed”. New vehicles look good up close with 3mm body panel gaps. No longer building “20-footers”. Many painful cuts. Cut brands in half, cut dealers, cut production of vehicles, cut operating and labor costs, got rid of debt. They are NOT Government Motors. The government is not active in operations. They are an equity investor and they want their money back. Fuel efficiency dominance today – but no one knows it - Full-size Trucks - The most fuel efficient full-sized trucks and SUVs at 22 MPG highway - Mid-size Sedans - Malibu beats Accord and Camry by several MPG - Compact SUVs - Equinox beats RAV4 and CRV by 7 or 8 MPG highway Committed to hybrids, advanced propulsion technology, plug-in technology, and the hydrogen fuel cell. Chevy Volt is on target for late 2010 launch, more on that later. Presidential task force is the first time in US history where the industry has had someone in the Federal Government to oversee the health of the national industry. Competition? May the best car win! - GAME ON!