Back around 2006, GM's Bob Lutz was spurred to action by Tesla Motors. Unable to get The General to move forward on a plug-in car, he pointed to the California start-up as a reason to get the Chevy Volt project going. This is all made pretty clear in the Revenge of the Electric Car movie, which is opening in theaters nationwide this fall. In a new interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, Lutz describes how Toyota also played a big role in getting the Volt on the road: he didn't want GM to fall behind in the public eye.

The key point is that Lutz doesn't get behind plug-in cars for their fuel efficiency or environmental reasons – he's famously said that global warming is a crock of sh*t and that a CAFE standard of 42 mpg is "totally ridiculous" – but he can still strongly support them. This is because they can be good cars. Plain and simple. Speaking to the Chronicle, Lutz said that Tesla's long-term prospects are uncertain but that:

[Tesla's] stock's doing well and everyone's got a buy on it. Meanwhile, they're losing a ton of money. My philosophy always is, if you have a desirable product, you can muddle your way past the financial problems. Elon Musk and the team were smart enough to get, without question, some of the world's finest designers on the Model S. The car is so beautiful that you look at it and say, "I don't care what drives it, I just want one." That's really the secret of this business. I honestly think they're going to make it.

Lutz and Musk were both interviewed on Charlie Rose last night, and you can watch that video here.



I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 23 Comments
      Jason Allen
      • 3 Years Ago
      i don't think Lutz meant to minimize the Model S engineering achievments. I think he was speaking as a car guy and he said he thinks the thing is damn sexy. And he's right. None of the current EV's/extended rangers can really be cross shopped against each other; all of them work best for very different types of car users. The upcoming focus electric and the Leaf will be almost the same so they can be compared. If one can afford the Model S and likes it they will not even look at the Volt. The same with the fisker vs. the volt. If you can afford the fisker karma you'll not be interested in the volt. Then figuring whether you'll need the extended range takes you out of the pure EV camp... all of these cars are great for the right situation! No one is claiming these should be 'taking over' for ICE's any time soon. But what is clear to most is that it is time to start making the change to feuling our cars with something besides petroleum. Why do people fight that fact so hard? I know some guys want/need more range and/or need to go many miles at the drop of a hat. No one wants to force you into an electric car that won't do those things for you! Just be aware that you are being part of the problem and not part of the solution. Send the Saudis even more money (OK, mostly canadians sell us oil, but some oil still comes from those who hate our secular freedoms).
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        Jim
        • 3 Years Ago
        Why? The Model S *is* a nice looking car. I'm still pessimistic that it'll deliver on all of its promises (I wager it'll either fall short on range, or be more expensive than planned) but Tesla has been able to cultivate a "boutique" image and that means they can attract the kind of customer who will pay pretty much any price in order to have one.
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Jim
          [blocked]
          4 String
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Jim
          Short on range is the most likely, especially in colder climates. I wonder if Tesla's active temp management (controlled/sealed battery environment) will contrast with the Leaf/Volt's air cooling + make a difference in the actual battery range. A base model needs to remain competitive with 5 Series pricing, though, if Tesla is to turn itself into a legitimate, production class luxury/sport player. Otherwise they will simply relegate themselves to the "boutique" image that does not equate with long term (even short term) profitability.
      4 String
      • 3 Years Ago
      " The car is so beautiful that you look at it and say, 'I don't care what drives it, I just want one.'" - Bob Lutz Ironically, what powers the Tesla S is an engineering marvel: flat cornering, skateboard/aerodynamic/flush floorboard (usually reserved for exotic cars like the GT-R), the electric motor INTEGRATED in the rear suspension, 50/50 weight distribution, and a low center of gravity (due to the weight mostly in the floor-embedded batteries and the placement of the motor). Lutz's words almost take away / trivialize the beauty behind the Model S's impressive engineering, which rivals if not surpasses the BMW 5 Series that it will compete with.
        Jim
        • 3 Years Ago
        @4 String
        "Ironically, what powers the Tesla S is an engineering marvel:" I only ever see this kind of statement from people who don't even know what engineering is. "skateboard/aerodynamic/flush floorboard (usually reserved for exotic cars like the GT-R)," that's easy to do when you don't have to package drive shafts or exhaust systems. "and a low center of gravity (due to the weight mostly in the floor-embedded batteries and the placement of the motor)." So wait, its "flat cornering" is such an "engineering marvel" but then you post this? can't you see the relation? "Lutz's words almost take away / trivialize the beauty behind the Model S's impressive engineering" leave the engineering assessments to the engineers, not breathless fanboys such as yourself.
          4 String
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Jim
          yeah flat cornering and low center of gravity are tied together. So? At the end of the day, it handles well. so what if i stated two subtly different attributes apart (you can have low center of gravity in the form of a seated back boxer engine but it doesn't necessarily corner flat because of the rest of the drivetrain)? "that's easy to do when you don't have to package drive shafts or exhaust systems." the nature of an e car is advantageous is what i was getting at... how is what i said anything less than from an engineering standpoint? care to point out how you're so much more qualified to make an "assessment" and how i'm just a "breathless fanboy"? Not to mention, ad hominem much?
          4 String
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Jim
          "I only ever see this kind of statement from people who don't even know what engineering is." I've only seen this statement from a person who speaks before actually taking a gander at the internal componentry of a Tesla Model S, let alone a person makes blanket condescending statements toward initially benign individuals. If you (are)were an engineering major, I would not be surprised if your GPA (is)was below a 2.5, because you clearly did not learn (have not learned) your material. No car company has ever incorporated an e motor directly into the rear suspension in a production car like the Model S (further lowering the center of gravity; in contrast a leaf's e motor is seated up front). If you really were a competent engineer (as you're suggesting with your condescension, although the engineers I've known have been much humbler/more down to earth), you would appreciate that.
      RedHoodJT
      • 3 Years Ago
      How many times is this fossil going to retire, unretire, then retire, then unretire? You were one of the few reasons why "Old GM" FAILED. And now you are BACK at GM. Ugh. This "Minimum" Bob Lutz is more annoying than Sarah Palin.
        RedHoodJT
        • 3 Years Ago
        @RedHoodJT
        Any comments below that defend GM are ignored. I can't believe how many igonrant GM fans there are on this site. It's like GM being a family member who's had drug problems, run in's with the police, etc. And now that he was BAILED out by the community (government), now doing ok YET still doing the same crap he was caught doing years ago (making #$%& cars that people buy still, in self denial,) you all are all "That never happened! He's a good boy!" (when CLEARLY he did commit those crimes.) His conscience is Bob Lutz. And the boy is GM.
      1STH
      • 3 Years Ago
      Tesla = SCAM. will be gone soon. The Model S is a wannabe italian sedan-----designed by fat handed slops who steal ideas from lost Alfa Romeo concepts.
      Making11s
      • 3 Years Ago
      Suddenly I'm less confident in Tesla... I mean, wasn't he saying the same thing about all of the Old GM brands?
      Stu
      • 3 Years Ago
      I hope Bob is right. Of course, this is the same Bob Lutz that said, in 2007 at a dealer lunch, that if he was going to invest in a car dealership, he'd buy a Pontiac store! As a former Saturn retailer that waved the corporate flag only to get dumped-on, I wouldn't put too much credence in anything that a former GM executive says.
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      budwsr25
      • 3 Years Ago
      The Tesla and Fisker are the electric car for the rich. The volt to them is garbage it dosen't have all the smells and exotic leathers and woods. The Volt is out of reach to the people who really want it. The people who can afford the volt can't afford the higher end cars don't want it because they are still buying the CUV's and full size SUV's and don't give a crap about gas prices..
        Sims
        • 3 Years Ago
        @budwsr25
        I think the Volt makes a hell of a lot more sense than Tesla, Fisker, or the Nissan Leaf. After grants, $32K isn't that bad. Folks pay more for Volvo C30's and Audi A3's that don't contain half the technology that the Volt possesses. The Volt IS a more advanced hybrid than the Toyota Prius, as well. It's a matter of necessity and frame of mind, I suppose.
          Sukairain
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Sims
          Wait till plug in Prius gets here - that's going to be the final nail in the coffin for Volt.
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Sims
          [blocked]
    • Load More Comments