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.