Bob Lutz, Chevrolet Volt defender.

It's not a totally surprising role for the former GM vice chairman, but it is a role he is taking on with more and more vociferousness as the car keeps getting attacked.

GM is sort of going into full-scale defend the Volt mode, with CEO Dan Akerson saying the car still has a future and a new series of completely positive commercials featuring Volt owners. Lutz recently wrote an article for Forbes defending his former company's halo car (can we still call it that?) in which he attacked right-wing pundits for their misunderstanding of the car and its history. He recently wrote another column for Forbes that reveals a more passionate anger about how this saga – the one Lutz wanted to be a positive green legacy – is turning out. It's a peek into Lutz's mind about the situation. Some key quotes:
  • "The Volt was largely my idea, and I was its undeniable champion. Work on it was started in 2006. Obama was elected in 2008."
  • "There may well have been some backroom discussions between GM and Fox [after Lou Dobbs and Bill O'Reilly said the Volt "catches fire"] because, oddly enough, shortly thereafter, quite a few Volt commercials ran on Fox for which I doubt any money was exchanged."
  • "Those who know me will vouch for my credentials as a conservative and vocal global warming skeptic. I spent 11 years as a Marine attack aviator trained and ready to take out Communists during the Cold War."
  • "So, the loony right has its jaws sunk into the Volt with all the stupid determination of a terrier who has locked his teeth into the mailman's butt. And with the same result: painful, but without any useful purpose."
Wow, huh?


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 71 Comments
      SVX pearlie
      • 3 Years Ago
      Lutz is a car guy, and this is actually a car worth defending. For what it is, it is extremely capable and well-priced. I do not understand the emotional hate that is being directed at the Volt. I have much sympathy for Lutz, because there's a sh!tload of misinformation that's making its way around the conservative blogs. Stuff which is simply factually untrue. It boggles my mind.
        Lou Grinzo
        • 3 Years Ago
        @SVX pearlie
        It's very easy to understand: It's all politics. Obama is associated with the auto bailout and therefore, somehow, this particular car -- it's GREEN and must be EVIL, ya know -- so it and he Must Be Destroyed. I have to wonder if the attacks on the Volt would be less hysterical if the leading Republican candidates weren't Romney and Santorum, who are not exactly polling well against Obama, but that's another thought for another time, I suppose. The Volt freakout makes no sense, to the point of being offensively stupid, but that's politics in the US in 2012...
        oollyoumn
        • 3 Years Ago
        @SVX pearlie
        I can see when it comes to the Volt people either love it or hate it. I am in neither camp. I think the plug-in concept is a very good one and kudos to GM for being the first OEM of offer it to the public. That said I think the Volt is poorly executed. Maybe it is my own fault for being tall, but there is no way anyone (even children) can sit behind me in a Volt. Even with the seat all the way back, entry and exit is much more difficult compared to other small cars. GM's parallel hybrid system is not very efficient when it comes to using gas. From a green standpoint is still carries most of the baggage of any gas car. To make matters worse GM brought it out with an engine that wasn't all that clean. When it comes to the Volt you have to figure out what distances and temperatures you will be driving and then do a bunch of math to figure out if you (and the environment) are better off or not. To exacerbate the issues GM made outrageous claims about price and mileage long before anyone could even buy one. This set expectations very high and the car just doesn't live up to all that hype. That opened not only opened the door to criticism, but literally invited it. While the Volt has merit, Lutz has none. He has long outlived his usefulness. GM started a steady decline from the time Bob started working for them. GM went from number one to bankruptcy while Bob was on board. He deserved much of the blame. I am sure there will be lots of down voting on my comment and even lots of different options, because when it comes to religion, and blind brand loyalty is no different, any opposing opinions are taken as hostel attacks.
          Alfonso T. Alvarez
          • 3 Years Ago
          @oollyoumn
          While you are certainly entitled to your opinion, those who actually understand the technological achievement that this car represents tend to think very much the opposite of you and your claim that it is poorly executed. Why would it win so many awards? If you think that the car mags are paid off, what about the European car of the year award? This is the first US designed, engineered and built vehicle to win that award. And the main one that carries the most weight in my book - it won the Society of Automotive Engineers best engineered vehicle of the year award - this is an international organization with highly skilled and educated engineers from all over the world who work for every OEM and supplier in the world who voted for this. That said, your second comment is too far off base to even understand where it came from. GM has had a huge product resurgence that began when Bob Lutz was given the power to lead and drive product design. He took away the power of the bean counters to make poor decisions about materials and features that resulted in GM winning back business in many, many vehicle segments. He was not the CEO or president - he drove product improvements. The CEO and President as well as the board of directors are the ones who contributed to the decline. And even then, GM's global growth, especially in China, was driven by Rick Wagoner. He was fighting a loosing battle in many other areas, as the previous CEO's had propagated an awful and unsustainable business environment. Try studying a little about Bob Lutz and his career, instead of making uninformed comments. He really is an amazing guy! How many people do you know who can fly helicopters and jet aircraft at his age? What about the CTS V challenge? He beat many people half his age with his lap times!
      Greg
      • 3 Years Ago
      So ... why are we supposed to care what Lutz thinks? The poor reception of the Volt has more to do with how GM has priced & marketed it than any political conspiracy. I'm conservative. I have nothing against the Volt. I won't buy one because it costs too much. But when I see the ads for the Volt (like the one where a guy is filling it up at the gas station & kids are grilling him about whether it's an electric or gas-powered car), I like it less and feel that people who buy it are dumb.
        theflew
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Greg
        So you just aren't in the market for a $40k car, nothing wrong with that. But you probably aren't in the market for a Lexus, BMW, Mercedes, or Cadillac that are in the same price range.
          Ele Truk
          • 3 Years Ago
          @theflew
          Except those cars you mentioned are (pretty much) not classified as compact cars, the Volt is. $40K for a compact car is overpriced in just about anybody's book.
        Spec
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Greg
        Clearly price is an issue but that is orthogonal to this discussion. But there is a weird irrational anti-Volt bias in conservative circles because it is viewed as a 'green' car, it is from a company that got a bail-out, and it is assembled by union workers. And that is harming the cars prospects among conservatives that have the money to buy it but are against it for some political jihad.
          SVX pearlie
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Spec
          I wonder what will happen when the BMW i8 hits the market at 2x or 3x the Volt price, or Fisker stops stepping on itself...
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Greg
        The price doesn't help but the car has really taken a beating in the news cycle. Much of the commentary on Fox about the Volt has been gross distortions or flat out lies. The problem is people believe it and that kills sales. I've this first hand from my coworkers. I have one friend that bought a Volt and he has only good things to say. He's saving $300 a month in gas and couldn't be happier. EVs and range extended EVs like the Volt are not perfect and are not for everyone. Let's talk about their real faults and strengths. Interview real owners.
      PaloAltoWorldView
      • 3 Years Ago
      As is explained in detail in this article, the Volt is a Republican car, made by Republicans, for Republicans: http://www.thestreet.com/story/11434371/1/the-official-car-of-the-republican-party.html
        Spec
        • 3 Years Ago
        @PaloAltoWorldView
        I never saw that article before. Kinda clever. Thanks for sharing it.
        SVX pearlie
        • 3 Years Ago
        @PaloAltoWorldView
        I like this: "the average annual income of a Chevrolet Volt buyer is between $150,000 and $170,000." At those incomes, they could actually afford more car (say, $50k), but choose not to. They definitely get the full $7500 Federal rebate, along with any state/local/electric tax breaks, and can afford the capital cost to wire their homes for Level 2 charging.
          otiswild
          • 3 Years Ago
          @SVX pearlie
          Single renters with no kids or state taxes to deduct can also get the full rebate back pretty easily.
          PR
          • 2 Years Ago
          @SVX pearlie
          otiswild -- yes you are right. No kids and being a single renter (or married and filing separately) and taking the standard deduction instead of itemizing is the quickest way to qualify for the full $7,500 credit. These folks only need an income of $51,300. For anyone who get married and files jointly, it jumps to $67,250 in order to take the full tax credit. http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/i1040tt.pdf The more kids someone has, and the more itemized deductions someone takes, the more money they will have to earn to qualify for the full tax credit. For a married couple with kids and a house and 401K or IRA contributions and a nice set of itemized deductions, it could take well into the 70K to 80K range of income before they can qualify for the full $7,500 federal tax incentive. Luckily, the US median household income for a brand new car buyers happens to be 70K now, and living in a 2-income household. And these median income buyers who are buying these new cars are spending a median of 30K to buy their brand new cars. Which happens to be a near-perfect match for a base Volt (31.6K After Incentive) being bought by a median household income buyer with 70K in income, who will then be able to take most if not all of the $7,500 dollar incentive.
      mustsvt
      • 3 Years Ago
      No doubt the Volt's problems are not gun rack or battery fire related. It is a great niche vehicle, but EV demand needs to come from the bottom up not the government down.
      SVX pearlie
      • 3 Years Ago
      "you can't expect them to sell it for a loss." If they were Toyota, riding massive Yen-fueled profits, you could.
      goodoldgorr
      • 3 Years Ago
      The hate for the volt come from the reason that it can be recharged for free and without pollution by solar panels. They don't say it directly because it might give ideas to some people. They are petrol resellers that do their job.
      Stevie Diffy
      • 3 Years Ago
      svx it may be well priced for you but it is not well priced for everyone. Hence, they are not seelling very well. Get your head out and look around...yep, there are other people out there. I like the car a lot, not buying any car for 40,000.00. That would be an unwise investment of my money.
        dmay
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Stevie Diffy
        It's not priced for normal people. It's mainly priced for fleet vehicles for corporations. They would really get use out of the high mileage, whereas a typical commuter's gain would be much smaller. That and they have paid accountants who make decisions based solely on MS Excel numbers, and not gut reactions to emotions.
          PR
          • 3 Years Ago
          @dmay
          SVX -- Actually, while many folks making 100K+ are buying the Volt, the target market is just around $70K median income. This is the same median income that all new car buyers fall in. The base Volt with discount and skilled negotiating is dead on the median price paid for new cars in the US. 100K+ is complete overkill for being able to afford a Volt. Especially when gas savings and any possible State incentives are figured in. It isn't a car for the exclusively wealthy, even though many of the buyers happen to have been in that category who happened to buy Volt's instead of much more expensive cars. It is a car for the moderately well-off people of the middle class.
          MTN RANGER
          • 2 Years Ago
          @dmay
          Here is a poll from the Volt owners' website: http://gm-volt.com/forum/showthread.php?10312-Volt-buyers-make-175k-plus-a-year-And-don-t-need-the-tax-credit-Poll&highlight=income The income range is quite wide.
          SVX pearlie
          • 3 Years Ago
          @dmay
          "It's not priced for normal people" That is absolutely correct. The average household has an income of only $50k. They cannot afford a $30+k car. They can barely afford a $20k car (*after* taxes, fees & registration). The Volt is priced for people who buy new cars costing $30k+. These people have household incomes of $100k or so, and probably more like $125+k. Dual-income / high earners. For them, it's not a big deal. And FWIW, people who can buy these cars tend to be fairly well-educated and good with money. They can do their own math to see if the Volt is right for them.
          BlueGTR
          • 3 Years Ago
          @dmay
          average transaction price for light vehicles in the United States was $30,605 in February 2012. average fuel needed for typical commuters covering 15'000 miles annually: Volt ~100 gallons, Prius 300 gallons, Mini 484 gallons, average 2012 new cars sold 682 gallons.
          marcopolo
          • 2 Years Ago
          @dmay
          @SVX pearlie "average household has an income of only $50k." Not exactly, these small errors can lead to considerable distortions. The US 'Per Capita' income is $50,000. US household incomes are much higher.
          PR
          • 2 Years Ago
          @dmay
          Marco, Per Capita US income (2010): $39,945 http://bber.unm.edu/econ/us-pci.htm Median Household Income (June 2011): $49,909 http://www.sentierresearch.com/pressreleases/SentierResearch_PressRelease_October_10_2011.pdf 50K is a completely usable number. Your vision of US incomes is distorted from your viewpoint in Australia.
          SVX pearlie
          • 3 Years Ago
          @dmay
          @PR: My rule of thumb was to divide annual income by 3 to determine car price. I concede that many people spend a lot more on things than they should, particularly depreciating assets like cars.
          PR
          • 3 Years Ago
          @dmay
          dmay -- brand new cars are not priced for average "normal" people. That is because the typical median-income American buys almost exclusively used vehicles. The median brand new car buyer makes about $20K more per year than the median US yearly income. People who buy used gas cars will still need to buy used EV's/REEV's/PHEV's. That's just a market reality, and EV's aren't going to be able to magically break that reality. Normal, median income people generally don't buy new cars at all. It is absurd to imply that the Volt is a failure unless it can suddenly be affordable to people who don't even buy new gas cars.
        PaloAltoWorldView
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Stevie Diffy
        All sorts of things in life is not priced for everyone. There are tons of $40,000 cars in the market, none of which is normally criticized for failing to compete with a $30K, $20K or whatever car. Take the Volt for what it is: A $40K car that competes with, you guessed it, other $40K cars. It's like complaining about a $5 million house not really costing only $1 million. It's meaningless. Take the price as a given and compare with objects in the same price range.
          theflew
          • 3 Years Ago
          @PaloAltoWorldView
          @brotherkenny4, Test drive a BMW, Mercedes, Cadillac, Prius and Volt and tell me which one the Volt feels like.
          brotherkenny4
          • 3 Years Ago
          @PaloAltoWorldView
          No, the volt is a 20K car that competes with the 40K cars. For 40K you can get a real car. The car it needs to beat is the new prius C or the future prius plug-in, which are 20K and 32K respectively.
      2 Wheeled Menace
      • 3 Years Ago
      You know, i'm finding it really hard to hate Lutz these days.
      Smith Jim
      • 2 Years Ago
      I've always had respect for Bob Lutz because I'm a car nut from way back. I'm a former climate change skeptic so I kinda understand where he's coming from but... he said something on Bill Maher's "Real TIme" that makes me wonder about this guy. Some of you have probably seen this video because it was posted here a few days ago. His main argument went something like this, "They predicted that Florida would be under water by and it's not. Their prediction was wrong." I've never read anywhere of anyone predicting the ocean would rise so quickly that Florida would presently be under water. This is a straw man argument without a doubt. My only question is this: Does Bob Lutz really believe that climate scientist were forecasting that Florida would be under water in 2012? Or is Bob Lutz lying. He's either an idiot or a liar.
        George Voll
        • 2 Months Ago
        @Smith Jim
        Its all politics Jim, can't you see that yet.
          Smith Jim
          • 2 Months Ago
          @George Voll
          You're probably right. The oil companies have bought and paid for right wing politicians who parrot the misinformation of climate skeptic "experts" who are also on the payroll of big oil.
          Smith Jim
          • 2 Months Ago
          @George Voll
          ...and then people like Lutz who has no scientific education fall for the lies and parrot the misinformation.
      Wrangler Unlimited
      • 2 Years Ago
      Bob Lutz, Bob is such a blowhard. Not to mention flipflopper on issues.
      mycommentemail
      • 3 Years Ago
      Kind of hard to feel all warm and fuzzy toward Lutz. It's like trying to feel sorry for a guy who champions the release of rabid dogs but then winds up getting bitten by one of his own mutts.
      BigJ
      • 3 Years Ago
      Most of the conservatives that I know really like the Volt. I'm a conservative, and I love it. A touch on the pricey side, but technologically sound and drives down our dependence on foreign oil. Other than a few talking heads, I've never heard "real people" talk down the Volt.
        PR
        • 3 Years Ago
        @BigJ
        BigJ There are plenty of "real people" who parrot those talking heads right here on ABG. Too damn many, really. If you would like to stick around and correct them, that would be super cool. Unfortunately most real conservatives like yourself who have a firm grasp upon reality pretty much refuse to stand up against the talking heads (like Rush and Bill-O) and their parrot followers.
        paulwesterberg
        • 3 Years Ago
        @BigJ
        Conservatives used to care about the environment (if only to protect animals for hunting and fishing). Conservatives used to say that government should stay out of peoples private lives (if they want to use birth control that is their business) Conservatives used to say that government subsidies are bad, but now they protect subsidies and tax breaks for oil companies making record profits. The republican party has been bought by big oil so they hate a vehicle that demonstrates that oil is the past, electric is the future.
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