Former General Motors Exec Says Electric Is “A Better Way To Do A Car”

1 year ago by Steven Loveday 62

Chevrolet Bolt - Image Credit: InsideEVs

Chevrolet Bolt In Toronto In February At The Canadian International Auto Show

“Set aside all the motivations with climate change, oil dependence—it’s just a better way to do a car. It’s simple,” says Google advisor, Lawrence Burns. Burns is General Motors’ former corporate vice president for Research and Development.

Electric cars offer many advantages over internal combustion

2016 Chevrolet Volt battery

2016 Chevrolet Volt battery

  • Quiet
  • No emissions
  • Charge at home
  • Cheap maintenance
  • No oil changes
  • No exhaust sytems
  • No gasoline/diesel

Some would argue the disadvantages include lengthy charging times, limited range, and initial expense. While these are all true to a point, they are already being addressed and will soon be overcome.

Disadvantages of the ICE

  • Requires fuel
  • Regular maintenance
  • Operating expenses
  • Tailpipe emissions

Unlike the temporary disadvantages of EVs, the problems with the ICE can’t be fixed over time. The only “fix” is to move forward to new technology.

Burns explains:

“Now I’m not suggesting you run out and invest all your money in an electric car company or a company that provides materials for electric cars, but I am saying that as we move forward, it will become increasingly clear that the major players in the auto industry that don’t embrace electric vehicle technology will be on the losing end of history. So if you’re looking to invest in a car company, you may want to steer clear of any that aren’t actively building out their electric vehicle fleets. Because these, dear reader, will be the losers over the long-term.”

Source: WD

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62 responses to "Former General Motors Exec Says Electric Is “A Better Way To Do A Car”"

  1. Steve says:

    Is anyone at Toyota awake? I have been thinking they are going to be left in the dust.

    1. Speculawyer says:

      I suspect they have a big electric skunkworks program that they will announce after they lease out their current crop of fuel cell boondogglemobiles. They can’t be THAT stupid. Honda and Hyundai have abandoned them.

      1. jmac says:

        Toyota has a separate battery division within the company, known as the Toyota Battery Research Division. In June 2014 Dr. Hideki Iba from Toyota presented a solid state battery concept to an international meeting on lithium batteries in Como, Italy.

        I’m pretty sure Toyota is still working on solid state batteries as of February 2016. If push comes to shove, Toyota will no doubt manufacture regular EVs and drop the fuel cell madness. (sigh)

        Toyota’s proprietary hybrid technology has basically “owned” the hybrid sector. Maybe, Toyota was hoping that their fuel cell technology would give them a similar proprietary leg up over other hydrogen car wanabees.

        1. Dave K. says:

          Toyota fully realizes that EVs are the end game, they will suddenly pull that rabbit out of their hat at some point. They simply don’t want to cannibalize their dominant position in the hybrid market in the meantime. You have to remember no OEM wants to sell you a car you will be happy with in 5 years, else how would they sell you another one?

    2. Andrew says:

      Make no mistake, Toyota has all the intellectual property, supplier relationships, and engineering/manufacturing might to pop out a very competitive EV in very short order.

      Once it soaks into their corporate brain trust that H2 is going absolutely nowhere (see: Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai, Honda, et al) they’ll haul ass on a proper EV.

      To virtually no one’s surprise the hydrogen cars have hit the ground with a thud and a yawn and Toyota must be getting the message despite putting on a happy face.

      1. pjwood1 says:

        Was it VWs job to save 4.4 billion on diesel exhausts, when they thought they could get away with it?

        Ethics

    3. Steven says:

      And Subaru.

  2. M. St.John says:

    If Toyota wanted to make an electric car they could make one of the best on the market. Let’s hope they make this decision soon.

    1. ziv says:

      M, I think building a good electric is different enough from building a good ICE that Toyota will be stuck for 4 or 5 years building BEV’s that are little better than the current Leaf. The battery tech improvements will help Toyota, but getting the guessometer right on range and the regen settings on braking will take them a while. Given their PiP, it might not take as long but it won’t happen overnight.

    2. goaterguy says:

      Then why did they had Tesla build their Rav4 EV?

      1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        Indeed.

        Despite Toyota taking an early lead in the hybrid market with the Prius, it’s looking more and more like the company is like Blackberry in the smart phone revolution. An early leader, but rested on its laurels and ignored the fact that other companies were zipping ahead of it with advancements in the new tech.

        No, I don’t think Toyota is suddenly going to “pop out” a BEV to compete with the Bolt and the Model ≡. I think they are going to be left behind, desperately trying to play catch-up as other companies push the EV revolution forward.

        Market leaders clinging to outmoded tech do fail in every disruptive tech revolution. Blackberry, Kodak… and maybe Toyota, too.

    3. Thanh Lim says:

      They could, and piggy back on the Prius name recognition.

      But they have adamantly opposed it in favor of fuel cells. MTTF of cells is miserable and I wouldn’t touch that with a 10 foot pole right now.

      1. Foo says:

        Haha, yeah… maybe they could finally build an efficient Prius.

  3. Anon says:

    Burns for GM CEO! Replace Mary!

    He Gets It. She does not.

    1. kdawg says:

      Don’t worry, Mary gets it, and has said so many times. She’s also an EE.

      1. Anon says:

        Is that why she’s sponsoring bills written specifically to block Tesla Sales in states outside of Michigan???

        1. Trollnonymous says:

          EXACTLY!

        2. Spider-Dan says:

          Yes, because Tesla is her competitor, and she’s pursuing the same kind of advantages that she would get over Nissan and Ford if she could get it.

          Elon Musk knows all about manipulating the market to your advantage, which is why he had Tesla create their own charging standard so that non-Tesla vehicles would be compatible with every charging network except his.

          1. Tech01x says:

            Please tell us which charging standard was available in 2011 or even early 2012 to charge a Model S at over 300 amps?

            1. Spider-Dan says:

              There wasn’t one.

              I’m sure GM and Nissan could have thought of their own charging connectors that worked better for their needs, but instead they went through the process of standardization, because EVs will never work without standardized charging connectors. Tesla is well aware of this fact, which is why they provide J1772 and CHAdeMO adapters for the Model S.

        3. ModernMarvelFan says:

          “Is that why she’s sponsoring bills written specifically to block Tesla Sales in states outside of Michigan???”

          Absolutely! As a CEO of the company, her job is to beat up the competitor, not to make their jobs easier.

          Unlike what most EV fan thinks, it is a competition at play. If GM can just write a bill to Kill off Tesla tomorrow, it would. Same goes for Ford or Toyota. It is called business.

          Her job is to maximize GM’s profit and kill off any competitors.

          Despite what Elon proclaims, he isn’t exactly opening up all Tesla SC for all other EVs to use either.

        4. GeorgeS says:

          @Anon
          give it a rest.
          BTW you talk big but we don’t know what kind of EV you own…

          could it be you don’t even own one?

  4. goodbyegascar says:

    It’s really impossible to dispute any of the advantages that electric motors have over internal combustion engines.

    The writing is on the wall.

  5. carcus says:

    So, what you might consider the “non-legacy electric threat” now consists of :

    1. Tesla
    2. BYD
    3. Apple
    4. Google
    5. Faraday
    6. Foxconn

    (re-post from another thread)

    There’s about 10 or 12 major “legacy” auto manufacturers looking to hold market share with internal combustion and already we have 6 big money upstarts (looking to gain market share with BEV).

    It seems quite possible that there could be a significant shuffle in the list of top automobile manufacturers in the next 10 years.

    1. Trollnonymous says:

      +1

    2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      If you’re going to include Foxconn on the list, then you should also include LG Electronics.

      Neither will ever build cars, but LG is building electric powertrains for the Bolt. Foxconn doesn’t belong on that list, despite some rumors about the Apple car. Perhaps they may earn a place on the list in the future, but at best that’s only speculation.

      1. tftf says:

        PP aka Lensman, you are wrong again:

        “Foxconn hopes to build cars priced under US$15,000, according to Gou. The contract manufacturer already develops electric car batteries, which he said were in demand.

        In September, Foxconn added that it would invest at least $811 million to develop electric car manufacturing in a Chinese province.”

        http://www.pcworld.com/article/2900452/foxconn-partners-with-chinas-tencent-on-smart-electric-cars.html

        Foxconn is already building EVs.

        1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

          tftf said:

          “PP aka Lensman, you are wrong again”

          Well that remains to be seen, doesn’t it? It’s pretty funny that anyone would actually believe an electronics producer like Foxconn can mass produce cars. That’s as absurd as claiming LG Electronics will build the Bolt, instead of just building the EV powertrain for GM to install in their cars.

          BTW, I’ll happily put up my record of predictions, both those made posting as “Lensman” and as Pushy, against the predictions you’ve made regarding Tesla over the years on Seeking Alpha, where you repeat with mind-numbing regularity your false claims that Tesla Motors is hiding its true corporate performance, and eternally predicting its imminent collapse.

          That’s a 100% failure rate on your part, dude.

          But hey, prove me wrong. Cite one of your predictions re Tesla that turned out to actually be true. Just one.

          1. tftf says:

            Make that 100% success rate, see tipranks:

            “you copied tftf’s TSLA rating since 2014 and opened the position for the duration of 1 Year , then 100% of your transactions would have been profitable with an average return of +18.1%.”

    3. kdawg says:

      10 years seems aggressive. I don’t see that much change that quick.

    4. Someone out there says:

      Google AFAIK is not building their own cars, they just develop software that they license to other players.

      Faraday is a joke, I wouldn’t put any money on that.

      Foxconn will focus on the low cost Chinese internal market, effectively NEVs. Sure they will probably produce a lot of cars but of very low quality and performance.

      1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        Google has developed their own design for a prototype/test-bed self-driving car, altho perhaps has had only one of those built. Of course, they didn’t actually build it themselves, any more than Foxconn will actually build cars.

        Wikipedia says: “Google has also developed their own custom vehicle, which is assembled by Roush Enterprises and uses equipment from Bosch, ZF Lenksysteme, LG, and Continental.”

        http://fm.cnbc.com/applications/cnbc.com/resources/img/editorial/2015/05/11/102666851-462675504.530×298.jpg?v=1433525459

  6. SparkEV says:

    I think everyone knows that BEV is a better option, but usable battery + fast charging weren’t there until recently. What is surprising is how the ICE worked all these years given all its complexity. Even fuel cell would’ve been “simpler” compared to ICE.

    1. Speculawyer says:

      Experience, momentum, mass manufacturing scale, and fear of the new have been protecting ICE for a long time.

      But the Volt, LEAF, and Tesla have broken the hold creating a niche market of EVs. The next generation of improved EVs will greating increase the share of EVs.

  7. fotomoto says:

    One major point missing from the Pro list is “Driving Experience” aka “Power Delivery” or “Instant/Seemless Torque”.

    1. Bret says:

      I was going to say one huge advantage of EVs is the lack of a transmission. That’s a heavy, expensive and complex system that is completely unnecessary. Anyone who has ever owned a Taurus, Explorer or Chrysler minivan knows what kind of problems a transmission can cause you.

      1. fotomoto says:

        Except many do; especially, PHEV’s.

        1. Bret says:

          Obviously, the article was comparing pure electric vehicles to ICE. That’s why they listed things like quiet, low maintenance, no oil changes, lack of exhaust system, etc. PHEVs and EREVs still have most of the ICE disadvantages and that’s why I would prefer a BEV.

  8. What is surprising, is the other elephant- not the one in the room, but the one on the highway: Fast Charging, be it AC, or DC!

    Most of the current, lower cost EV’s can do all the city driving most people need, now, but really only the Tesla’s can get you reasonably effective cross country travel, and that is because only they have a commitment to bring EV’s to everyone, in a fashion that gas is no longer needed.

    Even the Chevy Volt, with the approach that one vehicle can cover your city drives or most commute drives on electric, with gas to go the distance, won’t be needed when 250 mile range EV’s are available at about $25,000 for new ones, and maybe $12,000-$15,000 when 2-3 years old, used. (So long as said EV’s can access a reliable, accessable fast charging network conveniently.)

    1. kdawg says:

      “So long as said EV’s can access a reliable, accessable fast charging network conveniently”
      —-
      That’s going to be the hard part. Infrastructure seems to be the holdback now.

    2. carcus says:

      I’m going to guess the charging network will be a long drawn out battle royale, with unholy alliances and special interest gub’ment manipulation a plenty.

      I hope I’m wrong and the network is built out independently with an agreed to standard — but there’s really too much money at stake to think otherwise.

    3. Public Charging Networks: It is obvious that Tesla Gets it, Nissan Gets it – a Bit, and BMW is starting to get it! GM – Doesn’t even know what ‘It’ is yet!

      It = The long term ingredient that makes EV’s viable for general use – and while cost reductions might get people on board, it is the best charging networks that will keep them on board, with EV’s!

      Hence – when I said “What is surprising” I meant is – What is surprising, is that the article did not mention the element of Charging Networks that make EV’s happen Viably!

      From Home Charging – the next step is Workplace Charging, followed by City Charging AND Highway Fast Charging.

      Many People would buy from the iMiEV to the Bolt and Model 3, with Workplace charging added into the mix, and even more when you can drive the cars across the country on a usable, working, and consistently available (24×7) charging network!

      Even a $10,000 EV with 200 mile range, does not solve the long distance issue!

  9. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

    Posting that to InsideEVs is “preaching to the converted”. 🙂

    But then, it never hurts to remind everyone of the advantages of EVs, nor the historical inevitability of the EV revolution.

  10. Kevin C. says:

    Can I get an Amen from the choir?
    I thought so.
    Uh…minus the falcon wing doors in inclement weather.

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      There are certainly reasons to disparage the Falcon Wing doors, but I’m amazed this wrong-headed one caught on. Personally, I’d appreciate the overhead door acting as an umbrella when getting into and out of the car, when it’s raining or snowing.

      Wouldn’t you?

      1. Yeah that’s a nice pro, but (for me anyways) there are far too many cons to go with the FWD. (Roof no longer available for storage, likelihood of issues with snow/ice, reliability over the long term [both mechanically and electrically], etc)

        1. Mister G says:

          Change is hard to accept.

          1. ffbj says:

            Just keep it.

            1. Rick Danger says:

              Keep the change? 😀

                1. mr. M says:

                  am i the cashier or the customer?

      2. ffbj says:

        It’s a bit odd that your representational logo looks like FWD opened. I think it is just a tempest in a teapot.

        1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

          You mean my avatar? Admittedly it is hard to make out the details in such a tiny size.

          It’s the Pushmi-Pullyu, a fantasy creature originally from Hugh Lofting’s “Dr. Dolittle” stories, where it was a two-headed “gazelle-unicorn cross”; but generally represented in fan art as a two-headed llama, as it appears in one or more movies.

          1. ziv says:

            Dr. Dolittle is the perfect blend of pseudo-science, strange animals and fantasy for a 6 year old kid. Loved that movie!

      3. Rich says:

        The falcon wing door should act as an umbrella in theory. When it’s lightly raining with little to no wind, this theory might actually pan out to be reality. However, add medium to strong wind and the falcon wing doors make the Model X a top down convertible in a strong rainstorm.

        1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

          Well, regarding my post proclaiming the Model X falcon wing doors act as an umbrella… Let’s say my timing could have been better. 😉

          Shortly after I posted that, I saw the article here on InsideEVs regarding a few complaints about rain water being “funneled” into the door openings.

          In my defense, I have seen posts on the official Tesla Motors forum saying that the FW doors do act as an umbrella. As they say, “Your mileage may vary.”

          http://insideevs.com/tesla-model-x-falcon-door-lets-water-rush-right-on-in-video/

      4. Michael says:

        When closed, water, sleet, slush, and snow gather. on the relatively flat roof surface. Open the door and all that gets dumped at once toward the center of the vehicle.

        I doubt they have adequate drainage to keep two inches of slush from all that surface area from dropping in unwelcome in poor weather conditions. It’s unpleasant enough with conventional doors. I can easily imagine the rear half of the interior being soaked when it’s nasty weather out.

        Still, I can hardly wait to see a Model X in person so I can evaluate it for myself, and I truly hope to be proven wrong. That said, I know I’d very likely rather have minivan style sliding doors in back.

  11. Carcus says:

    This one’s probably worth its own thread:

    Another Oil Crash Is Coming, and There May Be No Recovery
    Superior electric cars are on their way, and they could begin to wreck oil markets within a decade.
    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-02-24/another-oil-crash-is-coming-and-there-may-be-no-recovery

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      You do realize, I hope, that this is just another promotional piece advertising whatever futures or stocks the writer happens to want to either promote or denigrate, probably because his investment firm is either promoting them or short-selling them.

      Investors almost invariably want a return on their investment within 5 years or less. So it’s beyond me why any investor would worry much about something that might start to have a noticeable economic effect “within a decade”. And might not.

      1. Carcus says:

        You do realize, of course, that you have managed to completely contradict yourself in a single post?

    2. Loboc says:

      This kind of thing is really hard to predict. External factors could accelerate the adoption process even more.

      Suppose we have a global environmental crisis that causes a war on emissions? It’s already happening in some cities like Beijing. In others, like LA, the crisis is being remediated by gov’t standards already.

      Suppose we have really cool cars from Apple and Google that make the old iron look like dial-phones. An acceleration by young buyers could cause an instant disruption. At least as ‘instant’ as cars can be built.

      Suppose we have an A.I. breakthrough where a car can more intelligently assist us in our day? Would the uptake be accelerated even more?

      Many of these unknown and unpredictable factors could multiply upon each other and greatly accelerate these ‘S’ curves.

      I have 5 flat-screen TVs and just bought another one. There is an old working CRT TV in the second living room. Might have to give it away since nobody wants it. I still want the ‘Total Recall’ wall of video. A ceiling that shows the outside sky view would be cool as well.

  12. G2 says:

    I traded in one of my two Toyota hybrids for a LEAF.
    I then went and parked it in front of my Toyota dealership (where I’ve bought 5 cars over the years), walked in and told them to have a full BEV by 2021, when my other hybrid will be ready for retirement, or I’d never darken their door again.

    Doubt it will do any good, but I had to say something.