Bob Lutz is not going to take attacks on the electric car lying down – the closest he'll come to that is doing push-ups on The Colbert Report. After spending a few of his Forbes columns laying into right-wing pundits for their attacks on the Chevrolet Volt, he is switching to a positive message about how plug-in cars can help with American national security. It is not surprising that Lutz, a former Marine, co-authors the article with two former U.S. Marines commandants and the CEO of FedEx (the three are all members of Securing America's Future Energy's (SAFE) Energy Security Leadership Council). The gist? Well, here's part of the opening paragraph:

When ... threats exist because the United States is the protector of the world's global oil supply lines, it is a clear illustration of how our nation's over-reliance on a single, globally priced fuel impacts our national and economic security.

America's addiction to gasoline costs the government billions of dollars a year, an estimated $80 billion, in fact, to guard the sea lanes, including one little area by Iran:

From a national security perspective, the U.S. military is forced to protect the world's vital oil infrastructure. The single greatest chokepoint is the Strait of Hormuz, through which 17 million barrels of oil per day passed in 2011 – 20 percent of global supplies. Protection of the sea lanes of commerce has become an American burden and will remain so, costing the United States Treasury an estimated $80 billion per year while taxing our military, which is already engaged on multiple fronts.

It's arguments like this that have made the recent right-wing criticism of the Volt such a mystery. If we use less gasoline, we can spend fewer lives and less treasure importing the fuel (of course, we don't lose many lives at the Canadian border, which is where most of our imported oil comes from). The Army says that today's soldier uses an average of 22 gallons of gasoline a day.

Lutz and his co-authors are quite clear that high gas prices are hurting Americans' pocketbooks, "essentially" wiping out tax cuts that Presidents Bush and Obama put into place. That's why, they say, "government action is needed to mitigate the risks of oil dependence, because there is no free market for oil." This intervention contains both expanded domestic production and – surprise – plugging in our light-duty transportation fleet as much as possible and feeding our big trucks lots of natural gas. To that end, they write:

Regarding electrification, the beauty of plug-in hybrids and pure electric vehicles like the Chevy Volt and the Nissan Leaf is that they are powered by electricity, which can be generated from many sources: nuclear, coal, natural gas, and renewables. Best yet, these are all domestic energy sources, meaning OPEC won't be able to corner the market. And the retail price of electricity is far less volatile that the price of oil.

Hard to disagree with that. There's more at Forbes.


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  • 211 Comments
      atomicbri
      • 2 Years Ago
      Reading all these responses I can only imagine what it must have been like right at the beginning of the 20th Century when automobiles were first coming on to the scene. One of the rich men in your town goes out and buys this motorized buggy cart thing... It causes a lot of stir and a lot of interest or disinterest. Since there was no internet then the talk would go all over town by speaking in local general stores or feed stores, post offices, you get the picture. I am sure a lot of people's feelings were a little like this... "Did you see George BlahBlahBlah got himself one of those motorized horseless buggies! To think of it!! He has to have special clothes to drive it, fuel it with this petroleum stuff that you really can't find anywhere, it only goes like so many miles and runs out of this hard to find fuel and its so unreliable and tires are hard to change off, more so than the wooden ones on my horse carriage. Hell with my horse I can bring his fuel along or stop and let him eat in a field and I can ride on and on with him. WHo would really want to buy on of these contraptions?? " Well I think we all know the end result to this story and I believe we are yet again approaching another junction such as this in our evolving history of transportation. So many people are non believers in the electric car and others are believers. Those that venture out to buy one are basically buying into something that is unique and never before mass tested. There is as of yet no great means of recharging your car and many charging points (good luck finding any at all outside of major cities) and it also takes a long time to charge. Back in the day the motorist took chances also on running out of fuel and being stranded, yet those adventure seekers of early 20th century that put money down on one of these new and really out there contraptions had no roadside assistance included, no tow trucks to call out, no quick walk to the local gas station, and no mechanics network really, hell some autos could be purchased out of Sears & Roebuck so no local dealer to go back to. But if it wasn't for these people that had the imagination, the thrill of something totally out there and new, the adventure to go out and purchase these machines, it may have been a lot different now today. So I admire those that buy an electric car and put up with all its quirks so to let these companies see that they sell and with even more research will only improve with time. At least for those willing to make the leap, you have a lot more pros then you do cons about buying a new contraption now as compared to buying the new contraption then. Your electric car will have a warranty, regulated, and tested to fullest degree for quality. That automobile you bought in 1908 had none of these things going for it. Thank God for those pioneers willing enough to take a chance and purchase that expensive motorized carriage so that most of you posters today can have a vehicle on the driveway
        LBFTPSEC
        • 2 Years Ago
        @atomicbri
        Thank you so much for this response. I'm glad somebody on this board sees the big picture of how the industry works. Thank you.
      Avinash Machado
      • 2 Years Ago
      It is the horse and buggy versus automobile argument of the 21st century.
      Allen
      • 2 Years Ago
      I would consider buying a volt if I was still commuting---providing it was about $5000 cheaper.
        brdy481
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Allen
        And if it came with extra batteries an fire insurance.
      biteme
      • 2 Years Ago
      Lutz is lobbying for higher gas taxes to promote his electric pipe dream.
      jt8man
      • 2 Years Ago
      Donkeys, horses and camels...bio energy at it's best....they also make fertilizer to grow bio fuel.....
      Randolph
      • 2 Years Ago
      Lutz-GM= TRANS AM
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        Making11s
        • 2 Years Ago
        Today's Republican party, at least at the national level, is a caricature of what it used to be. Now national elections are just the reckless spenders vs. the bedroom police.
          Making11s
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Making11s
          @ragtopdodge Yes. Republicans are reckless spenders and have a long history of increasing deficits and the national debt. Even their symbolic bills about balancing the budget don't balance the budget for decades (looking at you Ryan Plan). That said, going with something a simple as "the bedroom police" for the GOP required me to pick something equally simple and general for the Democrats.
          ragtopdodge
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Making11s
          reckless spenders? The GOP has spent like crazy during the Bush years. Tax cuts not paid for, wars not paid for, medicare part D not paid for, etc., etc. Gimme a break w/your falsehood comparisons. The GOP are reckless spenders AND bedroom police!
          montoym
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Making11s
          quote from making11s: - "Even their symbolic bills about balancing the budget don't balance the budget for decades (looking at you Ryan Plan)." - As opposed to no plan from the other side with no budget balancing anywhere on the horizon. The reason the balanced budget is so far off in the Ryan plan is purely because of where we stand now and how out of control the current spending is currently. Can you imagine the venom that would be spewed if the Ryan plan actually suggested balancing the budget in a a few years? The massive decreases in spending needed to accomplish that (considering that increased taxes will only go so far) would absolutely starve tons of government agencies and there would be a huge pushback. The Ryan plan is designed to work within reality and what can actually be done as opposed to what we usually see from Washington which is wishful thinking and kicking the can down the road.
      The Wasp
      • 2 Years Ago
      Bob Lutz: please go away. Sure he was involved with companies that made some great cars -- perhaps he even championed some great individual models -- but he was also heavily involved with some companies that made terrible decisions. Are the Leaf and Volt fine cars? Yes. Do we need Bob Lutz tooting a national security horn to see that? I don't think so.
        EXP Jawa
        • 2 Years Ago
        @The Wasp
        Need is a relative thing. If you don't want to read Lutz's columns or articles about them, don't read them. But that doesn't mean he can't write them, or the rest of us can't discuss them...
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        RJC
        • 2 Years Ago
        Oil won't last forever. Not having a fall-back plan is irresponsible. I welcome all alternative energy research.
          Synthono
          • 2 Years Ago
          @RJC
          I remember someone saying that we should drop the alternative, just call it energy. The alternative makes it out to be something separate and alien which people don't trust, as evidenced by all of the increasingly bizarre politicized comments all over the place here, like so much textual diarrhea. If we just call it energy, maybe we can get through to the people suspicious of change.
        mapoftazifosho
        • 2 Years Ago
        Ok, fine. "It takes more electricity to drive the average gasoline car 100 miles, than it does to drive an electric car 100 miles. A gas car at the US fleet average of 21mpg will consume approximately five gallons of gasoline which took 40kwh (5 times 8)of electricity to make, to drive 100 miles. An electric car will use approximately 30 kwh of electricity (3.3 miles per kwh) to drive the same 100 miles."
        ragtopdodge
        • 2 Years Ago
        Were you born under a rock? We use 20% of the world's resources and we have 2% of it. Drilling and drilling is not going to do a dang thing to go from 2% to 20%. And even if we DID drill up to 20% of the world's resources, our oil companies would just sell it overseas to China and India. Gimme a break. Another Drill BABY DRILL fanatic.
        robespierex
        • 2 Years Ago
        You claim to know a lot about physics and geology for someone with a GED.
        MSgt
        • 2 Years Ago
        You make a lot of excellent points, but liberals in this country just don't want to hear anything about fosil fuels-period. They know we can be oil independent, but they pretend they don't understand (or maybe they aren't pretending!) Windmills are a "feel good" thing, but are useless and aren't cost effective. Take away the gov. funding and you wouldn't see one private investor put one of those things up. In fact there are a bunch of broken ones out west that no one wants because there is no gov. money for repairs for old ones.
          axiomatik
          • 2 Years Ago
          @MSgt
          Wind power is already cost-competitive with coal. Last year South Dakota got more than 22% of its electricity from wind. Almost 19% in Iowa, 15% in North Dakota, 13% in Minnesota. Even Texas, one of the most populous states in the country, got 7% of its electricity from wind. Wind Power is a viable source of electricity. Also, there is no "gov. funding" of wind power. Wind power does benefit from some tax credits, though.
          montoym
          • 2 Years Ago
          @MSgt
          Is wind power cost competitive without those tax credits? It's like all the solar power commercials I hear on the radio all the time. They talk about how cheap it is for the consumer but fail to mention that in order to get the price anywhere near that level they rely heavily on credits and subsidies that we all pay for. There's no free lunch. If you want to compare, compare apples to apples. On a $ per kW-hr produced basis, alternative energies receive massively more funding than traditional sources. Oil, coal and gas might receive more overall dollars, but they produce the overwhelming majority of the power as well.
        BG
        • 2 Years Ago
        Oh, no, here we go again about those dastardly "liberals." Do the right-wingers really fear them so much that they seriously believe they have the power to destroy economies, corrupt nice moral American teenagers, stop oil production, ruin the economy, and force electric cars down consumers' throats? Wow, that's power.
      Zoom
      • 2 Years Ago
      "It's arguments like this that have made the recent right-wing criticism of the Volt such a mystery. " It's not a mystery. If you support corporate welfare for the defense industry, then keeping us addicted to foreign oil and the need to protect it is vitally important.
        ragtopdodge
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Zoom
        corporate welfare: oil and gas subsidies to the likes of Exxon/Chevron/BP.
      Tweaker
      • 2 Years Ago
      $80 billion is a gross underestimation. Count Iraq1, Iraq2, Libya and Afghanistan as (ultimately) all oil wars. Then add the War on Terror costs, which we wouldn't have either if not for our presence in the hell hole known as the middle-east.
        brenden
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Tweaker
        oil wars? learn and return http://www.consumerenergyreport.com/research/crude-oil/where-the-us-gets-its-oil-from/
          • 2 Years Ago
          @brenden
          [blocked]
      Jimz
      • 2 Years Ago
      Curious what the rednecks on here have to say..
        DriverSide
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Jimz
        How does phrasing a question in that way aid in the conversation at all? Its like saying "I wonder what the ghetto thugs have to say". You are attacking someone based on your own stereotypes in order to troll up an angry response.
          Jimz
          • 2 Years Ago
          @DriverSide
          I gave you a thumbs up because I agree with you. At the time, that was seriously what was on my mind and I posted it without thinking. That said, it was still on my mind when I came back to see the rest of the comments.
        Commentotron
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Jimz
        Probably something about some sort of "ISM." Would be my guess. Because we all know Maximum Bob is a commie sympathizer. Right?
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