Bob Lutz: Range-Extending Technology Wasted on Chevy Volt; More Suitable for Cadillac Escalade

1 year ago by Eric Loveday 15

Lutz approves of using costly range-extending technology on full-size trucks.

Bob Lutz is widely considered instrumental in convincing General Motors to develop and launch the extended-range Chevy Volt.  If it weren’t for Lutz, it’s likely the Volt would’ve remained only a concept.

Now, Lutz heads a firm that goes by the name of Via Motors (more background info available by clicking here).

Moving on, Lutz now says that range-extending technology is basically wasted on family-sized vehicles and should instead be applied to automotive behemoths, including full-size trucks and the incredibly oversize Cadillac Escalade.

His reasoning makes sense, but we’re not keen on promoting the use of these types of vehicles unless there’s an absolute need.

Lutz says the Chevy Volt was a misapplication of range-extending tech.

Here are the words of the oft-outspoken Lutz as he presented his case to Autocar:

“Hindsight is a wonderful thing of course, and we shouldn’t forget that the Volt and sister car Opel Ampera are the world’s best-selling electric car, but the truth is that even then it’s not meeting sales expectations, and that’s because most customers don’t want to pay out a major expense for the technology to make minor savings.”

“Frankly, unless that customer is philosophically, religiously or economically affiliated to buying an electric vehicle, then they can’t be convinced. The first two types of buyer will buy whatever’s built, but the latter is a harder case. The obvious answer is to electrify as big a vehicle as you can, because that’s where the fuel and running cost savings make the most sense.”

There's the monster that Lutz says should of been first to get range-extending technology.

“If I had my time again at GM then I would have started with the Cadillac Escalade for the range-extender technology, and brought the Volt in later. The more gas-guzzling the vehicle, the more economic sense of electrifying it. Car companies need to get their minds on that: electrifying an Opel Corsa that uses virtually no fuel anyway and then lumping a huge premium on it to cover the battery costs is nonsensical. Why bother? It uses virtually no fuel anyway.”

Lutz had a reason for this lengthy statement and it was to convince the public that the first Via Motors truck, which is scheduled to go on sale in 2014, is worth its outrageous price tag (estimated at twice the price of most of today’s full-size pickups) due to the amount of fuel it saves owners.

What’s your take?  Is Lutz on the right track?  Or is he simply digging for a way to pitch his pricy extended-range truck.

via Autocar

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15 responses to "Bob Lutz: Range-Extending Technology Wasted on Chevy Volt; More Suitable for Cadillac Escalade"

  1. GSP says:

    Bob Lutz has a point, economic payback will be easier to achieve in larger vehicles. However, I am very glad GM choice the C-class Volt instead, because this is the size I want for everyday driving around town. It would be nice if a larger 40-mile EREV vehicle was also available for longer trips with the family, but that would only be acceptable to me as a second vehicle.

    Good point or not, it sure looks to me like Bob is “digging for a way to pitch his pricy extended range truck.”

    GSP

  2. ClarksonCote says:

    Eric, can you please point to the quote where Bob Lutz says it is a “waste”? All I see is that Bob says he would’ve started with the Escalade, and moved onto the Volt later.

    I don’t understand the need to put a somewhat negative twist on it to seemingly take a jab at the Volt.

  3. Herm says:

    He does have a point, GM and Ford also need to expand natural gas use in pickups.. its the only thing that will save them if gasoline continues to go up in the next decades

  4. Nelson says:

    Who said?

    “His reasoning makes sense, but we’re not keen on promoting the use of these types of vehicles unless there’s an absolute need.”

    NPNS!
    Volt#671

  5. George Parrott says:

    Another consideration is that people who buy the horribly inefficient and EXPENSIVE Escalade are simply not AT ALL concerned about operating economy. Driving an Escalade for many, perhaps most of those consumers, is about posturing as able to drive such a behemoth.

    Able in terms of “conspicuous consumption” on a mobile platform.

    So, for those individuals, increases in the operating economy of the Escalade would almost be a move in the “wrong direction” emotionally.

    Pickups are more functional consumer options, at least for many, nee most(?) such buyers, so increases there in operating economy might be appreciated.

    However, the Volt does not bring just token increases in operating efficiency. After 6 years and 100,000 miles of Prius driving, with complete records of every fuel fill-up, we averaged just a tad over 49 mpg. For 22,600 miles now on our 2011 Chevy Volt, we are averaging 104 mpg! That is not a small delta, but DOUBLE the fuel efficiency of a carefully driven Prius!!!! And the Volt is a much more enjoyable road car. For about 40% of all plug-in vehicles now on the road, surveys have reported, their owners also have SOLAR photovoltaic panels on their homes, so those cars are being powered by totally “clean” energy for their recharging.

    The Volt and the incoming Cadillac ELR represent MAJOR technological leaps in energy independence for this country (from Middle Eastern oil despots), and they are actually functional for the majority of American drivers and their driving NEEDS. Though I have never been a GM “fan,” I commend them for giving us these choices.

  6. Bill Howland says:

    Ahem, well, I’ve been harping for years that

    1). Electrifying Luxury Cars meant perfect sense, since on a LARGE car you have room to put a LARGE battery, and since the markups are higher you stand less of a chance of going broke.

    2). I criticized Lutz’s Cancellation of the Cadillac Converj, stating that this would be the electric car’s Major Market. (He cancelled it so he says because there will be too many Volts sold and there won’t be batteries left for the Converj).

    Bob Lutz: Where is the release of the ViaScalade you promised for the NAAS on the Viamotors.com website? The autoshow is almost over!

    Note to your webmaster: You need to put much more details, and to the extent you can, pricing info. I know these things haven’t been firmed up, but you could at least put a range of prices in so that your future customers (Me Hopefully), can start doing our options shopping.

  7. James says:

    Bob must be reading my posts and rants!

    Really, he’s right – as hindsight can be 20/20.
    Ford just displayed it’s concept for the new F-150 called
    “Atlas” yesterday. It’s bigger, taller, as aero as a brick
    and looks ridiculous.

    GM can place VIA’s system in it’s frame-based trucks
    - the coming Colorado and current behemoth vans
    SUVs and C/Ks very easily. Why they won’t is a good
    subject and one we should push and push and push.

    An EREV with 20 mile AER would even get the
    ball rolling. Ford would be on it’s heels. It’s the biggest
    battle in autodom* – fullsized trucks!

    Go Bob!

    Meanwhile, Bob is facilitating a Detroit industrialist to
    put Corvette V-8s into Fisker Karma bodies bought
    for pennies on the dollar. Go figure – Bob’s skills are
    honed as a businessman/opportunist. Yet perhaps
    Tony Posawatz called Bob and asked him to
    offload all those surplus Karma bodies lying around.

    * in NA

  8. kdawg says:

    Message to Mr. Bob:

    It’s not one or the other. Electrify as many vehicles as you can and spread the cost. Give people more options/configurations to choose from. Those smaller cars you say, “don’t use gas anyway”, have saved over 6.5 million gallons of gas so far, and this is just regarding the Volts sold in the US. These Volts and other EV’s continue to save their owners 100′s of dollars every month as well. And do not look past the smooth/quiet ride of an EV, less maintanence cost, and instant torque off the line. These things are important no matter what size the car is.

  9. evnow says:

    Just self-serving commenst by Lutz.

    Ofcourse, we all know Volt is the wrong car. It should have been a cross-over/SUV. I’d say Equinox, rather than Escalade, though.

  10. Martin T says:

    I’m glad they did the Volt as I know have one that I can afford, not a Truck that I could not!
    However having said that GM – Bob made a mistake that they didn’t do at least 2 or 3 different types of vehicles one straight after the other: ie Car, SUV, Truck.
    They could have kept the knowledgeable Volt team together, further assisting Voltec work in parallel on projects further than just the Volt and ELR.

  11. shawn marshall says:

    It is very difficult to do things – actually get them done. A man such as Mr. Lutz has had to deal with lightweight know it alls all his life. And sure he’s trying to pump up the volume for hi s expensive trucks. Did he mention battery cost as a problem for the Volt? It’s all about the batteries for EVs. Mayhap, as a former Shell CEO, has said, the surfeit in NG should reform to methanol for trucks .Eventually, the market will rule.

  12. Battery Guru says:

    This guy’s mouth is on his butt, I watched his interview on Schweizer Fersehen by Sonja Hasler a month ago and he complained about the public bashing of GM due to bailout, he blamed the old management, he blame the customers and the only person who didn’t deserve blame was himself! Both Chevrolet and Lutz are of Swiss origin and both are junk!

    This guy is going to say anything to get his stuff sold, he once said the Pontiac Solstice was dear to his heart, yet that didn’t sell, the Volt didn’t sell either, and the same thing would happen to his Via junk!

  13. Crappo says:

    GM must go bankrupt, they are criminals!

  14. Grumpy says:

    I think Lutz is Nutz! An Escalade is just a pimped out Tahoe, so people pay an extra 20,000$ for a name plate, wheel, and trim options. Does he really think a person who spends that kind of cash on fluff is going to worry about mileage, let alone pay an additional 40,000 for the 80+ kwh battery?

    My guess is that the Via trucks will be about as popular as the Hummer and Tahoe hybrids.

    1. Bill Howland says:

      PG&E and Verizon have already signed up to be Major Customers… So that should aid popularity. Supposedly they are saying the price will come down as volume grows. Also, supposedly they have been having problems getting drive-trainless ‘gliders’ from GM. And now we hear Lutz no longer works for GM in any capacity….Maybe he can start feelers out to other manufacturers who might be interested…

      Its not for everyone but I’d be interested in a ViaScalade if they ever made one at a decent price.