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When an automotive executive says something brash and outrageous, we sometimes call it "Going Lutz." The green car world has it's own special phrase – "Going Musk" – and we always look forward to the next item that makes us go, "Huh? Really?" They're so much more exciting than the daily press releases.
Today's edition might make people use "Going Johan." Audi of America President Johan de Nysschen, a big diesel vehicle fan, recently gave veteran auto journalist Lawrence Ulrich a few choice morsels about how terrible electric cars, including the Chevy Volt, are.

To start, he said the Volt is "a car for idiots." It's too expensive, he said, adding that "No one is going to pay a $15,000 premium for a car that competes with a (Toyota) Corolla. So there are not enough idiots who will buy it." He predicted that the Volt will fall fail, which will cause the federal government to have to step in and subsidize the Volt in order to save face and boost sales.

As for pure electric vehicles? "They're for the intellectual elite who want to show what enlightened souls they are." de Nysschen isn't completely against plug-in hybrids, but believes that diesel technology should be a much bigger piece of the puzzle (big surprise, considering Audi's diesel push). He also claimed that a huge shift to EVs will give us a net increase in carbon dioxide emissions thanks to all of the coal powered power plants. He can have his opinion on the Volt, but science tells us that he's wrong about the CO2 emissions.

UPDATE: as several readers have pointed out, Audi is, of course, going to
introduce an electric car concept in Frankfurt in a few weeks. Perhaps de Nysschen will change his tune by then.

[Source: Exhaust Notes]


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  • 81 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Does this seem just a little odd given the pro EV theme of Audi's last appearance in a blog post here?
        • 5 Years Ago
        I was wondering when someone was going to point that out. His company announces an EV to be introduced in just a few days, and he comes out and bashes EVs. What a moron.
      • 5 Years Ago
      While Audi of America President Johan de Nysschen could have been a lot more tactful, he makes some good points. Though, I personally believe diesel is very likely to go much higher at some point in the next several years due to all of the consumption around the world including in Europe. And consuming more in the U.S. would drive the price up even more.

      For more problems with the Chevy Volt (e.g. how the 40-mile range will "plummet" with highway driving), check out the following article that I wrote.

      Three things everybody should know about the Chevy Volt

      http://hydrogendiscoveries.wordpress.com/2009/08/23/three-things-everybody-should-know-about-the-chevy-volt/

      Greg Blencoe
      Chief Executive Officer
      Hydrogen Discoveries, Inc.
      "Hydrogen Car Revolution" blog
        • 5 Years Ago
        Greg, Toyota's electric powertrain (Prius) is meant to complement the motor during city driving and so has been designed to provide enough power for low-speed driving.

        The Volt, on the other hand, has a much larger motor (110 kw compared with the Prius' 30 kw) capable of highway speeds and it will do so efficiently, therefore not draining away battery life.

        Greg, you're a hydrogen fuel cell specialist. I suggest you stick to talking about your area of expertise. Otherwise, you sound as much as an idiot as that Johan guy.

        Rick: Highway driving is not "the most energy intensive part of driving". Look at that RPM needle when you're on the highway. Engine efficiencies are highly dependent on RPM and car manufacturers will design the engine and the transmission to allow the most efficient operation possible at common speeds.

        Electric motors however do now have this problem. All the difference that will be made driving at a higher speed is to overcome the extra aerodynamic drag.. However, this is actually relatively small on the Volt due to an exterior design that reduces just that.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Geez, I wonder why Blencoe is so down on the Volt? Could it be that a successful Volt will be just the first of many successful plug-ins, rendering his beloved H2 fuel cells obsolete before they can arrive on the market?

        Yep, it's the same reason a Diesel promoter is down on the Volt - it is seen as rival technology. Ironically, I suspect that Johan might also have some less than flattering words for H2FCVs as well, considering they are even more expensive and have less fueling options than the Volt.
        • 5 Years Ago
        yeah - I'm pretty sure once your volt hits the highway you are in a less than enviable situation. The ICE is going to have to provide all the energy for forward motion and other vehicle energy demands like a/c and a little more for the battery charge and various extra losses that will occur ... and all during the most energy intensive part of driving.

        Don't leave town with a volt.
      • 5 Years Ago
      This guy is an idiot. There are thousands waiting for a Chevy Volt for purchase.
      Also, our Audi is in the shop needing a complete transmission with only 65k on the odometer.
        • 3 Years Ago
        "NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- General Motors admitted Thursday that it won't sell the 10,000 Chevrolet Volts that it had hoped to sell in 2011, and said that it would buy the plug-in electric car back from any customer fearful about its safety." Facts and Marxist opinion are separate things; their natures diverse; like oil and water they occupy separate realms
        • 5 Years Ago
        "Almost everyone outside of the PR media machine see it as Lutz' folly and probably the end of General Motors as a major auto player." - wincros

        Silly statement.

        GM has more marketing money in the Volt than R & D money. It uses an existing platform and an existing engine. And the drivetrain is less complicated than a two-mode hybrid. GM had already developed a series hybrid version of the EV1 many years ago, as well as developing one with PNGV money under Clinton.

        GM will almost surely lose money on the Volt (as it did with Lutz' Kappa program and the G8 that Lutz loved so much) but its not enough to drag GM under. Not by itself.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I love Audis and owned a great one. But f*** him and his reliability-challenged brand.

        It's completely un-cool to call people who will look at electric cars "idiots" when many of them will be cross-shopping his own brand. With Audi (and VW) working furiously on their own electric solutions, it's plain that the idiots here are at Audi of America.

        And yep, this is coming from a guy who loved his A4 despite its breakdowns.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Not really.

        Your anticipated sales of thousands of Volts will not prove successful. It will mean failure. They will have to sell many hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of Volts to break even. Hard to do that with a $20K body and a luxury car price. He is not alone in shaking his head over the Volt. Almost everyone outside of the PR media machine see it as Lutz' folly and probably the end of General Motors as a major auto player.

        As for the EV. There are almost no electric cars to buy. Even the announced ones only have a range for a short commute at an exorbitant anticipated price. Maybe someday their viability problems will be solved, but right now diesel and hybrids are the only viable alternative to the gasoline engine.

        He may offend you, but he is right.

        My problem with his trying to talk up diesel is that we do not have access to very many here. If we had some of the small 50-60 MPG FIAT, Polo, Renault/Peugeot, Toyota and Honda diesels to choose from he might get a little more respect.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I agree with you Ken about thousands of people being out there waiting to buy a Volt, or any other ER-EV40, at $40,000 less the $7500 tax credit. But once we get past the first 10-20,000 Volts, they better be able to get the net price below $30,000, and eventually the tax credits will run out and ER-EV will only sell in meaningful numbers if the premium over a comparable Ford Fusion Hybrid or Prius is reduced to $5,000, maybe $7,000. Electric will always be cheaper than gas, so a premium will not deter buyers. Even if greenhouse gas policies drive the price of electricity up, we will still be able to make our own with photo voltaic cells on the roof of our home or by putting up a wind generator. BEV's will cost too much, or have too limited a range, and when you combine that tradeoff with a limited fast charge capability for at least the next 10-15 years, you have a recipe for ER-EV's ruling the roost until 2020-2025.
        An ER-EV35 or better will beat a gasoline powered hybrid any day of the week, in my book, but it has to be marketed at a reasonable price after the early adopters all have one.
      • 5 Years Ago
      ....yeah, not the most clever thing to say.

      Especially since Audi has a production A4 plug-in diesel hybrid in 1997. That didn't sell well, but now it would look different.
      • 5 Years Ago
      If he had genuine criticism for the volt and similar architectured vehicles, he would have chosen his words more tactfully. These are the rantings of jealous man who wishes his company would have delivered on the PHEV first.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I have been driving an EV for over a year. My purchase was a win-win-win scenario. It helped the U.S. economy by purchasing from an American company, it helps the U.S. economy by sending less of U.S. dollars overseas to foreign oil companies, it helps my own budget by not spending my money on gas.

      So, who's the idiot??
        • 3 Years Ago
        So you are burning coal in your car instead of gas. Does that really help the environment?
      • 3 Years Ago
      Some things never change. Once again, the Germans are displaying their arrogance of all things automotive.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Some things never change. Once again, the Germans are displaying their arrogance of all things automotive.
      • 3 Years Ago
      When will people realize that EVERY movement started with intentions of saving or helping us really is nothing more than a marketing movement to separate the common man from his freedom and money?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Just shut the @#$% up, Blencoe.
        • 3 Years Ago
        who is making the idiotic statement? MAX
      • 3 Years Ago
      Ahhh....once again people can't stand the truth. I used to be a buy American freak, but as everyone has stated between the Dems, (a minority, mind you) force feed this crap down our throats. The Unions who have infected the car industry like a tape worm (they almost killed off their hosts a couple of years ago) build throw away cars (including the Volt). Story after story of this car catching on fire, but I think is designed in by the enviromentalist, since they consider mankind the enemy of the planet, they're hoping the Volt will bump off a few enemies of mother Earth. Audi may be building an electric call but i bet 90% will come to the U.S. because he knows the doofuses here will scarf them up. Ahhhh capitalism...you don't have to believe you just have to take their money :-)
      elctrNmbliT
      • 3 Years Ago
      I see the trolls are out astroturfing again today. http://www.technologyreview.com/web/39304/?p1=MstRcnt
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