GM Won't Kill Electric, Lutz Says

Nov. 7, 2006: Auto Week—New Step, Same Direction

Summary: "General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner will reveal a new step in GM’s alternative-fuel vehicle programs at the Los Angeles auto show this month.

While not saying which direction GM will take, Vice Chairman Bob Lutz says GM executives believe electric vehicles are the future. GM’s work on fuel cell vehicles may first bear fruit as a "series hybrid" vehicle, he says.

A series hybrid could run primarily on electricity from lithium ion batteries, with an engine as backup to replenish batteries, Lutz says. The backup engine could be a diesel or gasoline internal combustion engine. Backup energy also could come from a fuel cell."

GM continues to churn out ugly, old-fashioned gas guzzlers while floating great ideas at auto shows and giving lip service to new technology. It has yet to sell a full hybrid. Even this series hybrid idea is doable now, if the company would get off the fence.

Electric vehicles may be the future, but they are also the past (EV1) and the present (Tesla roadster). If this new step is really in the company’s same old direction, don’t count on driving this dream machine any time soon.

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  • John L

    How ridiculous that GM has the engineering and technology to produce this car now, but will probably not introduce it for 5 more years? Typical. The US automakers deserve to lose market share when they operate in this fashion. Mass produce a better, more efficient, less polluting product because you want to play a leading role in the evolution/revolution of our environmental stewardship. Don’t continue to be reactive, build non sensical gas guzzlers and cry for help while you wait for the government to bail you out.

  • John J

    This article could have been shortened to: “Toyota was right”

  • EJ

    This article reads like a major change of direction for GM: no more fuel cells and plug-in hybrids instead.
    Sounds like a version of “How killed the fuel cell vehicle?”.
    Sounds smart to me, actually.
    BUT: Mr. Lutz, isn’t a series-parallel hybrid (like Toyota does it) more efficient than a series hybrid?
    Maybe it’s time to get over the Not Invented Here syndrome and license some of those Toyota patents, Mr. Lutz?

  • jim

    Series hybrid run on batteries. The flex-fuel generator kicks in when the battery is low. The generator can run at preset speed and achieve higher efficiency.

    This would be simple and elegant design. The cost would be low. There will be no need for transmission because of the electric drive train. Brake, power steering and air conditioning are all powered by electricity, eliminating the need for those snake-like belts.

    This would be huge if they bring it to market sooner ranther than later.

  • Michael L

    Why are environmentalists reflexively hostile to the US automakers? It’s not as if foreign automakers are obviously “greener,” especially the Europeans, who are leading a horsepower race with rediculously powerful cars such as AMG Mercedes and BMW M class.

    GM came out with the electric car first, and the series hybrid shows the could again show the green way with elegantly efficient technology. This despite the huge cost disadvantages they have over foreign automakers thanks to their UAW contracts and enormous retiree population to support, costs not burdening Toyota and others.

    Environmentalists need to separate from their labor union political allies. They have nothing in common except voting for the same party.