The former General Motors executive used his Forbes column to take issue with the Reuters article that blew up yesterday, estimating that the automaker was losing $49,000 for each Chevrolet Volt sold. Lutz called the estimate "preposterous."
Lutz, who led the development of the extended-range plug-in, said the Volt's variable costs were "very roughly" about equal to the dealer price of $37,000, and that, amortized over the lifetime of the model, fixed costs wouldn't put the Volt too far "under water." Lutz, who called the Volt a "first-generation technology masterpiece," added that some of the fixed costs can be factored into models like the Cadillac ELR, which uses the same sort of drivetrain technology.
Lutz concluded – as anyone with common sense could see – that the Reuters figure stemmed from the reporters incorrectly calculating per-vehicle fixed costs by factoring in only the vehicles sold so far, not what the Volt expects to sell during the model's lifetime. Last month, the Volt moved a monthly-record 2,831 units, beating the prior record of 2,289 units in March. Through the first eight months of the year, the Volt's sales of 13,497 vehicles were more than quadruple year-earlier figures.
In March, Lutz sharply criticized what he termed "the right-wing talk show guys" for what he said was a deliberate attempt to ruin the Volt's reputation in the wake of a vehicle fire last year that occurred weeks after a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) crash test. NHTSA later concluded that neither the Volt nor other electric vehicles are a greater fire risk than conventional vehicles.