Bob Lutz Continues to Stand By The Chevy Volt

Yesterday at the EVS 26 symposium in Los Angeles, former GM vice chairman and “father of the Chevy Volt” Bob Lutz defended his recent fighting back against right-leaning Volt detractors, while in related news, he continued to rally support for the car.

Lutz said he thinks his strongly rebutting the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly was effective at helping restore respect for his former employer’s halo vehicle.

“It’s unfortunate the Volt became the target of the right-wing propaganda machine,” said Lutz.

At the end of January he wrote a strongly worded editorial for Forbes countering the flippant regard for facts by fellow conservatives who he termed “the wrong-headed right.”

Lutz, an outspoken denier of the theory of global warming, said electric vehicle advocates ought to focus on the prospect of enhanced domestic energy security for maximum effect.
Unfortunately, he said, EVs cost too much, and offer too little distance traveled per charge to make believers out of most consumers.

“Range has to go up. Price has go down,” he said, adding that all-electric powertrains make better economic sense in larger vehicle sizes where the potential gains are greater compared to fuel-driven counterparts.

And speaking of larger electrified vehicles, Lutz managed a plug for the plug-in VIA Motors Chevy trucks for which he is a paid consultant to promote and help develop. These are converted light-duty commercial hybrid vehicles initially intended for fleet duty built on some lessons learned with the Volt – a car for which Lutz is undeniably proud.

So proud he is of the Volt, in fact, that at another event in suburban Detroit, Lutz was recorded by Automotive News expounding on the benefits the Volt has brought, and its implications for the present and future auto industry.

On the sidelines Automotive News asked him whether the Volt would have been better suited as a Cadillac, given its price of $40,000-plus before incentives. Lutz agreed in part, but explained the rationale.

“The sticker shock would have been less and the acceptance of the vehicle as being value for money would have been quicker,” Lutz said, “But it would have had the disadvantage of not having the global potential that Chevrolet has. The reason we selected Chevrolet is that it is the ubiquitous General Motors’ nameplate.”

In any case, Lutz went on to tell industry leaders in a speech there that the Volt has had a deeply positive symbolic effect for General Motors – which is now again the world’s largest automaker and rebounding well from a bout with bankruptcy in 2009.

“The Chevy Volt single-handedly reversed GM’s declining reputation for innovation and technological excellence,” Lutz said. “I mean it was at a point where everybody was pointing to wonderful Toyota; Toyota the savior of the planet, the greenest car company on earth, the producers of the wonderful Prius … “

Lutz has often been good for a straight-shooting, if not colorful or controversial quote. He was also featured as one of the heros in the documentary “Revenge of the Electric Car” for championing the nascent technology while not losing a pragmatic edge gained after years in the Detroit auto industry.

That said, Lutz projected the internal combustion engine will be around for perhaps 20 or 25 more years, adding that the faster battery energy storage potential goes up, and the faster their prices go down, the sooner will come the day when the internal combustion engine is made obsolete “because it simply won’t be needed anymore.”

But in the meantime, as the Corporate Average Fuel Economy mandates come into stricter effect, Lutz said every maker will need a percentage of electrified hybridization in its fleet to make the cut.

USA Today, Automotive News


  • Van

    “Lutz, an outspoken denier of the theory of global warming, said electric vehicle advocates ought to focus on the prospect of enhanced domestic energy security for maximum effect. Unfortunately, he said, EVs cost too much, and offer too little distance traveled per charge to make believers out of most consumers.”

    The above statement hits the truth nail on the head!!

    The early market difficulties were caused in part by GM’s own mistakes, i.e. “the Volt will be priced comfortably below $30,000″ and will get “230 MPG”

    But it is a great step forward in auto technology, and all who really care about air pollution should stand up and cheer for Mr. Lutz.

  • Checker

    ERROR IN THIS ARTICLE !! DO YOU MEAN LIMBAUGH ???

    Lutz, an outspoken denier of the theory of global warming, said … EVs cost too much, and offer too little distance traveled per charge to make believers out of most consumers.

  • Happy Volt Owner

    Checker,
    To answer your question…Limbaugh probably agreeds with Lutz on those two points. Lutz has said both many times. I agree about EV’s. That is why the Volt works so well for me. Most of the time, I hardly use any gasoline or use no gasoline. Occasionally, I need to take a really long trip, and burn gasoline at a reasonable rate.

  • veek

    Well, nice try, Mr. Lutz, and I hope you are right, but I am one of many who are skeptical about GM after having been misled time and again. “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me several times, shame on me.” We’ve paid our dues and the right to whine after many visits to the repair shops, broken parts, faded interiors after a couple of years, etc. Yes, maybe “this time it’s different.” Maybe. But forgive me for saying “maybe not.”

    Mr. Lutz’s comments about right-wing propaganda machines is a distractor and a red herring. The right-wing propaganda machines didn’t give us the products that make so many of us need a bit more time before buying any more from GM, including its stock or bonds, and including the Vega, uh, ah, the Volt.

  • AP

    veek, I presume that by bringing up the Vega (I’d agree it was a horrible car, and I work for GM), you are saying “once bad, always bad.”

    If so, know that when Toyota brought the “Toyopet” to the US, they planned on driving one across the nation to many dealers to promote it. It broke down so many times along the way that they finished their trip IN AN AMERICAN CAR (don’t know which brand).

    Also know that GM was thrown out of Japan after WW II so that Toyota could establish itself. They were so poor in quality then, even the Japanese wouldn’t have bought them unless forced to.

    So makers can change over time. You may just not have seen it.

  • ken kiekens

    Congratulations to GM and FORD for bringing in the electric option. I think that is great and good planning for the future since technologies seem to be moving in that direction. Someday maybe oil would be for manufacturing plastics and advanced materials only, and then recycled. Maybe petroleum will not be burned up any more.
    In China there are 20,000,000 electric motorcycles that do everything from everykind of J. I. T. deliveries, to farmers taking all thier produce to market, and mothers taking thier children to school. All this even in the rain, cold and snow. I myself am used to driving an electric bike in all kinds of weather 20km a day to teach school.
    The recharge technologies for the eBikes (electric motorcycles) is 10 minutes for 20 km. It is low power DC of 10 amps on a home electric dryer circuit.
    So the competition for drivers in China is with these 500 dollar (US) electric motorcycles. I myself am not tempted to buy a gasoline (ICE) car.
    When I was in Canada I drove many kinds of cars, all gas guzzlers as there was no option. If I had an option I would drive an electric or plug in. I myself with a little common sense could set up an electric charging infrastructure when In North America.

  • Kaytlin

    I do believe in global warming because the earth has always gone through environmental changes but not at the high-speed rate we are now experiencing it. To say that humans don’t have impact on the climate is absurd.

    I am also a Chevy Volt owner and I am with Bob Lutz 100% on backing extended-range electric and electric vehicles. The Volt is the greatest car I have ever owned. I used to spend about $400/month on gas and I got a $392/mos lease for a Volt so it was a wash for me to get a new car with the fuel savings. I feel good about not pumping out emissions and giving something back to the environment instead of always just consuming and taking. I’m averaging about 117mpg when I do use gas. They say gas may hit $5/gallon this summer which is not as high as our European counterparts at $9/gal. Then people will be fighting for an EREV or electric car since it only costs about $1/day to charge.

    I LOVE MY CHEVY VOLT!!!! :-)

    Signed,
    Happy Volt Owner

  • masterofnone

    I took our volt on an 1100 mile trip. While the volt makes pretty good mileage (about 36) it is nothing compared to what I get when I’m commuting to work (around 300). I won’t drive the Volt on a long trip again. I hate it when my 300 mpg gets brought down to 150. I’ll rent a car. Other than the mileage drop the Volt is great for long trips. I just think its value is better used by keeping it as a commuter car.

  • masterofnone

    ” I’m averaging about 117mpg when I do use gas.” You mean you have a lifetime average of 117 mpg, right? All the Volts I have seen, including mine, get about 36 mpg after the battery runs out and running on gas only.

  • danwat1234

    Bob Lutz is a pretty cool character.

    I hope nanowire lithium ion batteries take off sooner rather than later. 60 miles or more electric range.

    I would also like to see an Atkinson cycle or small diesel generator rather than the existing 1.4 liter OTTO cycle engine that is from the Cruze.
    I know the engine can drive the front wheels if the battery is depleted and when the Volt is at highway speed, due to the fact that this is more efficient than having the generator charge the battery, then go to the voltage regulators and then to the electric motor, too much heat loss.
    But an Atkinson, Diesel or HCCI gas engine would be a great upgrade for the Volt along with better batteries as they are developed with supreme reliability and decent cost.