Bob Lutz Reveals Main Reason Behind Chevy Volt: Video

JAN 29 2019 BY MARK KANE 178

Chevrolet Volt was kind of a halo car for General Motors

Bob Lutz – Former GM Chairman – visited the recent NAIAS and shared the number one inspiration to create the Chevrolet Volt.

The concept was shown in January 2007 and introduced on the market in December 2010. Lutz wanted to make Volt something like the Dodge Viper was at Chrysler. The reason behind that was to change the perception of the company, struggling with competition from Toyota.

The ability to earn some money on the Chevrolet Volt was a secondary goal,but not the most important according to Bob Lutz. However, we all must know that without profitability in place, any product will not be able to sustainably stay on the market.

Bonus: The Changing Role of Cars

“Tom Walsh (former business columnist, Detroit Free Press) and GM’s Former Vice Chairman, Bob Lutz, took to the North American International Auto Show floor to talk about how the automobile is entering a new era where autonomous driving is on the near horizon.”

Have something to say about the Volt? Sound off on our forum.

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178 Comments on "Bob Lutz Reveals Main Reason Behind Chevy Volt: Video"

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“Give people a new perception of the company, and leap-frog the Japanese competition.” And then promptly stop. Lutz likens the Volt to the Dodge Viper- that should say it all.

He is talking from a marketing stand point. This was Bob’s specialty.

Yes, and it was Klutz’s only skill.

Lutz is a global warming denier who was primarily a car salesman. His stated reason for leaving GM was his opinion that the government was regulating automobile manufacturers too much. Lutz was active at GM during its downfall, and was one of the executives who quite effectively managed GM into bankruptcy.

It was? Then why didn’t he apply it? As a Volt owner I offer that total lack of that speciality crippled sales and ended its run.

The irony is Tesla’s product is so well designed, and costs are so heavily attacked, that the car markets itself.

-Cost savings up and down the supply chain, including building your own electric Semi’s for cheaper transport from Nevada to California.
-Unit production goal of 300,000 for the Model 3, not the optimal number to capture California CARB credits: 30,000.
-Solar on the roof for lower electric charges.
-And although the Volt very attractive: Seats, Plastic, and a poor rear suspension.
Had Bob made this his Personal Car, and got improvements based on his personal experience with the car it should have sold 5X better.
-And the Chevy dealer network: “We sold our Volt, can you believe it?”, Tesla’s biggest Asset.

you are implying that a) consumers are rational and b) implying they are capable of critical thinking

oh, customers are plenty capable of critical thinking. they (like most everybody else) just don’t use it as much as they should

So, what you are implying is P.T. Barnum was correct? 🙂

You seem to be over consuming the koolaid… Tesla’s are the worse built cars on the road today. Not engineered well at all. Different, yes very different. But “built different” and “built well” are not the same thing. Read the other article here about how the Telsa’s resale price is starting to drop. There’s something to learn there.

…don’t forget Tesla markets their product differently. Tesla does not compete with an in-brand ICE-Mobile as the Chevy Bolt/Volt does. Market penetration is not the same because the GM DEALERSHIPS do not want to sell electric cars. Most sales types don’t know a lot about them. Dealerships stay in business selling gas guzzling F150’s to F350’s, vehicles that need lotsa maintenance.. particularly after warranty work.. $100/hr+ They do not and will not stay in business with the new electric vehicles, so there is no incentive to sell them. That’s GM’s Achilles heel when it comes to electric

Lutz was not in charge of new Gm after the bailouts

Lutz was never in charge of GM. He was never CEO.

And, what context does that have with this article? Clue: nothing. He’s just another industry insider at this point.

But, on this scale the Volt was a success.
It did and does beat the Prius hands down.
The Volt is a technical marvel.

Except in Reliability.
But, Reliability may be 50% of the reason people buy Toyota, along with the environmental reasons and the economy. Buying a Prius is like having a second job where you do nothing and get paid.

The Volt’s reliability isn’t bad, it’s just that Toyota owns reliability as a brand.

I wonder if part of GM’s problem is the constant CANCELLATION of every advanced car it makes?
The EV1 and now the Volt.
How long will the Bolt be in production?

Vs. Toyota, the Prius has 4 Generations and has been out for more than 20 years.
Maybe if GM CEO’s could keep improving cars like the Volt, they’d get the sales they deserver, along with another dealer network.

And Again to give GM Engineers the Props they deserve, the Volt makes the Prius Prime look Segundo.

Toyota had 4 generation of Prius because it kept growing in sales for the first 3 generation and now sales are starting to drop.

Volt 2.0 never had the sales growth that GM wanted.

In fact, GM wanted to sell 45K/year in 2011/2012 and that goal was never met, not with gen 1 or gen 2.

Defeated by their dealer network.

I agree. My Volt has been absolutely outstanding in the 5 years I’ve owned it.

My 2017 Volt has been outstanding with no technical issue whatsoever, purchased for $23k after tax incentive and discount. 75% EV miles so far mostly commuting, with a few easy long range trips in between. I test drove the Prius and it drives like a golf cart, sorry. The Prius Prime’s EV range is a joke. The Volt has fun acceleration, is quiet and composed and has a big enough battery . Fingers crossed it will last for a long time.

The low sales of the Volt were caused by a marketing blunder. GM should have launched a dedicated brand for EVs and EREVs, maybe the Volt brand, or revived the Saturn brand, with dedicated dealers and multiple models available. Giving the car the Chevy badge was a big marketing mistake. The traditional Chevy customers are not interested in EVs, and car buyers interested in EVs don’t visit Chevy dealers.

I agree in part but the marketing could have been better, and/or the incentives to dealerships could have been better.

In 2016 I bought a used 2012 Volt for under $12000, from a dealership that didn’t even know that it was missing the charging cable. When I wanted to go see it, they said I had to wait until it was charged. I think if I had been more persistent, they would have paid ME to take it. I just don’t get it. I loved that car, and until my Tesla, it was the most fun car I’ve ever driving, even beating out my 1992 Mazda Protege. Chevy is shooting themselves in both feet by getting rid of the Volt.

The ev1 was under the Saturn brand…its hard to be innovative when you’re dragging that much legacy along with you. Its GM’s history of undercutting itself and it’s own competing brands.

The Volt was the best PHEV by far, but I can’t call it a technical marvel.

If you look at what modders have done with used Volt batteries, it’s clear GM didn’t push performance at all.

GM also avoided putting any autosteer tech in the Volt (and Bolt), even though they have great tech with SuperCruise. This alone would’ve made me a buyer.

Most importantly, there wasn’t enough effort in reducing cost, which to me is almost always a big part of being an engineering marvel. I and many other engineers feel the Volt had an overcomplicated drivetrain, and it wasn’t a very optimal design from an engineering standpoint.

The perception of Toyota reliability is not the reality. Toyota is falling below the average lately. Toyota IMHO never really had that great of quality, just dirt simple cars that didn’t have enough “features” to break down. They don’t build those cars today, and have the same issues as everyone else, which is really not that much any more compared to decades ago. Research the Prius on the gov cars site, you’ll see plenty of complaints on Prius, about the same as any other hybrid on the market today. Zero difference, other than massive ad dollars spent by Toyota….

Japanese cars are generally far better made than anything Lutz has been involved with.

Here’s the deal, you can’t get a “Japanese car” today in the US. And, no, they are not any better. Go find the scores today and you’ll see most Japanese makers are falling below the middle mark now on quality. Those cars from years past were truly built in Japan, and were good. But also were very low on features, so there was litterly nothing to break down on them. Giving them the perception of quality when in fact they were just simple vehicles.

Bob Bob Bob

Bob Bobara Ann

I see what you did there!!

He is trying the hype the design that has been canceled? What is he thinking?

Damage control is the stage Volt is in now.

Many pointed out right from the very beginning that the goals were unrealistic. How could a profitable vehicle with specs so high be achieved so quickly? When the bankruptcy recovery plan was put in place, the task-force assigned to that expressed a “too little, too slowly” concern for that very reason.

Sure enough, Volt-1 struggled with sales. But rather than spread the technology to another platform, GM decided to make Vokt-2 even more in the image Lutz envisioned… which had proven a terrible choice.

The design approach is expensive & inefficient. What to do with it at this point is a very big problem, especially now that tax-credit phaseout had been triggered.

You should worry about your employer’s damage control, GM is doing just fine with their plan to go all-BEV. Toyota bet on the wrong horse with fuel cells and anemic PHEVs.

Are you claiming GM has definitely dropped any idea of pursuing plug-in hybrid sales?

As for spreading a rumor about me working in the automotive industry, that type of dishonesty will come back to bite you. It’s never a good practice divert attention away from the topic like that.

I have no idea if GM will release any more PHEVs, but they seem to indicate they’re going to focus on BEVs. It is too bad, as a Voltec Equinox would have been great.

I’m not spreading a rumor, I’m making a guess. I can’t imagine anyone who likes EVs and reads an EV site supporting Toyota, unless that person was being paid to do it. Toyota is the definition of anti-BEV.

Toyota isn’t anti-BEV, they are just avoiding the early-adopter mess. That slowness rubs some people the wrong way.

So what if the EV model of CH-R doesn’t rollout until next year and only in China at first? It makes no difference with respect to high-volume sales.

GM got too much attention from Volt. It was clearly only a niche, never targeting mainstream consumers. Toyota doesn’t play that game.

You’ll spin anything to be pro-Toyota and anti-GM. Time and again this has been proven on these forums and elsewhere.

One such example: Remember how ridiculous you thought GM was for making a 4 seat Volt on the Gen 1? Proof that they had no intention of marketing to mass market consumers, so on and so forth? Now you suddenly don’t have that criticism of the Toyota Prius Prime and emphatically profess they are targeting mass market. Hmm?

Know your audience. GM was supposedly targeting families, to make Volt a vehicle like Gen-2 Prius was, but the seating clearly contradicted that… which I pointed out. Prius Prime is not going after the same audience… a fact many here conveniently choose to overlook. That mixed message of purpose is why Volt struggle so much.

Toyota is working to spread their technology, to be able to offer a plug on a larger more appealing platform… like RAV4… another fact conveniently being overlooked.

Voltec should have been spread to Equinox or Trax years ago. GM failed to diversify prior to tax-credits running out… a mistake Toyota is striving to avoid.

Lame-o john1701 still trolling the Volt and GM I see.
Toyota said the Prius Prime’s name means the “best Prius”. So I guess families don’t need the “best” according to Toyota? It seems no matter where you post your drivel, you get voted down massively. Lol

RAV4 hybrid cannot be ignored for too much longer, no matter how much you try to make it about Prius.

Remember, the expectation for Volt was to make “Voltec” available in other vehicles.

Hybrids, and even PHEVs at this point, are the past. They were good stepping stones. But, car companies need to be rolling out long range BEVs now. Toyota chooses not to do that, and wastes their time with fool cells, which is disappointing.

PHEVs will continue to be relevant until the charge time problem is solved. Once that happens (and it’ll probably happen fairly soon), only then will they truly be “the past”, as most consumers are unwilling to buy an extra car, rent a car, or stop for 1-4 hours at a time in order to complete a >300 mile trip.

Hybrid still have a place. I just don’t see $15k-$25k EV’s happening for quite a while.

“Hybrids and … PHEVs… are the past.”
Until we have a robust nationwide charging infrastructure, and batteries take the next leap in storage density, charging speed, and safety, there will be a place for both hybrids and PHEVs. EV enthusiasts like those who post here are ready to accept and embrace current BEV technology, but I assure you the vast majority of the car owning public is not yet ready. Hybrids and ultimately PHEVs will be the past – but not for many years.

If a Toyota puts a plug in the RAV4 that will be interesting

Again, you mean. On the RAV4 again…

Oh c’mon John – Eric Cote is exactly right….. Toyota can do no wrong and GM is nuts. The only reason there are plug-in cars for the masses is the release of the fantastic Chevrolet Volt. Every early Tesla Tech who drove my early 2011 absolutely loved the car. Yeah, 8 years later there is better stuff around. But not by much.

What gets me is that GM doesn’t currently have someone as well grounded and experienced as Bob Lutz.

If the people criticizing him and name calling him were tasked with designing a car there would be hundreds of problems with it. I’m glad he micromanaged the design.

I don’t understand what happened with Via Motors. Perhaps he was told that he better keep Via a ’boutique’ operation if he knew what is good for him. He obviously is of the generation that knew what the Big 3 did to TUCKER, and his revolutionary automobile.

Notice how so many refer to sales as the “EV Market” rather than addressing the entire market? This difference of perspective is the issue.

The spin about loyalty is just a way of avoiding that discussion.

@ john1701a: I’d like to see you say one bad thing about Toyota to show you don’t work for them.

I’m happy to say some bad things about GM: They don’t market their EVs properly, they don’t keep their dealers in line, they’ve been ignoring some chronic issues with the early Volt batteries (PPR issue).

Let’s hear something bad about Toyota from you…

Turning a blind-eye to my praise for GM engineering to feed your “anti” narrative is unacceptable. My complaint is with GM executive decisions… ones that you sometimes agree with.

You are afraid to admit we are on the same team, both pushing for electrification.

So what if our approach is different. We’re ultimately pursue the same goal.

@john1701a: Yup, that’s what I thought. Toyota wouldn’t be very understanding if someone on their payroll said something even slightly negative about them. So you try to deflect.

My team wants to see EVs succeed. Toyota is not on that team, which is just sad.

Afraid to admit I don’t have any issues with GM engineering, that my only complaint is related to the terrible choices management made.

That’s proof of not be employed by Toyota.

You can’t stand that I’m right about us sharing the same long-term goals for electrification either. Too bad! I want EVs too. I just don’t agree with your approach.

@john1701a: Another attempt at deflection. Failing to saying something negative about GM isn’t the same as saying something negative about Toyota.

Toyota is far from perfect (nor is GM). So just post one negative thing about Toyota. If you’re not on their payroll, that shouldn’t be so hard.

I actually shouldn’t ask again because you’ve had enough to check with your Toyota masters, and the brighter ones may realize it’s worth letting you post something negative about them.

Interestingly, Audi eTron also seats 4, due to a climate control module and protruding console in the rear cener. What’s odd is it’s TOTALLY unnecessary..

Toyota has made a lot of statements that are definitely anti BEV. Also Toyota definitely played compliance games with their mirai, Rav4 EV and first generation plugin Prius. Even the Prius prime is doing barely enough to be credible today

Focus on the immediate present is just another means of diverting attention. We all know of the Toyota battery investments preparing for the shift.

Toyota is only making minimal investments to comply with ZEV mandates in countries it has to sell ZEVs. Don’t confuse that with any desire from Toyota to actually sell EVs en-masse, silly boy.

1.5 trillion yen ($13.9 billion) is minimal ?

No GM just wasn’t bold enough with the Volt, had they spread the tech out from to other models from the get go they would have had the volume to be profitable, they just suck like the rest of the legacy automakers who only care about next quarter profits rather than the sustainability of the planet.

Their constant backpedaling on future products over the past year is embarrassing and is totally giving up any technological/manufacturing lead they could have had.

Toyota is worse, they try to burnish their fading green credentials and gaslight us into thinking they care about the environment more than sacrificing a bit of profit to speed up the adoption of electric vehicles.

Belief that the only means of electric-vehicle adoption must be a top-down approach is a very common problem among early-adopters.

Not recognizing how effective bottom-up can be will be a painful lesson to learn… which is the ambivalence we are witnessing now from those who had high hopes for Volt.

It’s too bad that understanding of economics is absent from discussions like this.

If every automaker had put the same level of effort towards EVs as Tesla had we would have the economies of scale and supply chains for them to be affordable.

Tesla by their own has already shown the way, all legacy makers are dragging their feet and no amount of hybrids will make up for what could (be/have been) done.

A small sacrifice in profit (would/would have) (give/given) us a much better shot at tackling our sustainability challenges. Any argument about economics that doesn’t include sustainability is moot.

We need a wholesale switch off of petroleum as a fuel as soon as humanely possible, not when the numbers make corporations the largest profit.

Like I said, not understanding economics.

There is more than one way to achieve the same goal.

Please tell me how exactly how I do not understand economics? Perhaps someone doesn’t understand negative externalities and how those costs are conveniently ignored in so many economic discussions.

@Paul: It’s pointless arguing with him. He works for Toyota and just uses marketing double-speak that they feed him.

GM decided to use the TOP-DOWN approach. That meant delivering their vision of the final product configuration, which required a premium price as a result. Selling a Chevy compact hatchback with such a high sticker made no sense. Only early-adopters were interested, hence focus on conquest sales. GM figured production-cost would fall rapidly, allowing the automaker to take advantage of the technology within just a few years. That expectation was grossly miscalculated. GM was stuck with an expensive halo, rather than something for the masses. Toyota took the opposite approach, choosing BOTTOM-UP instead. That meant delivering a design through a series of generational upgrades. The results was a highly flexible vehicle that was affordable immediate. Tradeoff was range & power would improve over time… hence starting from the bottom. Toyota’s approach enabled the ability to adapt on-the-fly. For example, the advanced heat-pump could be deployed when it became affordable to do so. Waiting for the rest of the industry to catch up wasn’t necessary, which is how Gen-2 got it. That is also how the carbon-fiber hatch and the aero-glass window was rolled out. Those 2 fundamentally different approaches have demonstrate profoundly different paths to mainstream acceptance, the economics of… Read more »

A Voltec Equinox would have been expensive and heavy.

Yes, GM currently hates plug-in hybrids…They have said as much that they can’t see the point in 2 separate power trains – which pretty much shows the intelligence of current GM management.

You’ll be happy that Toyota will eat their lunch with their plug-in hybrids – or if I’m wrong about that, then Honda will. Batteries have to get more compact and much less expensive until PHEV’s no longer make economic sense.

The gag we used to kick around John is that if you Don’t work for Toyota, you SHOULD have, since you were so defensive of the PiP and PP.

Its rather as Pushi goes around policing the area for Tesla. He is not paid by them, but he should be since he is the resident ‘Junk yard Dog’ for them, self-appointed.

I’m sorry for GM to be giving up Pickup Truck Plugin-Hybrids.
Sure, you can make and sell an 80,000 EV Pickup today, but that’s just the top 5% of the market. There should be a real market for 40-50 miles of electric range Pickup, at a much lower price.

I mean there should be a market if you want your Truck to help you make Profits.

Don’t count Toyota out yet. The EV revolution is in its infancy, and they will be a player.

As for Lutz in the first video, I can attest to the fact that I had been a GM guy for many years but lost interest in their offerings at the end of the last decade, and switched to buying Toyota – including a 2010 Prius. The Volt brought me back to GM. With the Volt gone, I don’t see anything compelling in their lineup. Starting to look seriously at Tesla or Hyundai for my next vehicle.

You know Bob doesn’t work for GM anymore?

And Prius sales are doing what? Steady decline?

Looks like Toyota isn’t doing much right either with your often defended goal of so called appealing to mass market.

Toyota had to add AWD and Prime to keep the current Prius family sales from going to the bottom. The sales are now less than 50% of its peak set back in 2012/2013…

The point is to spread the technology, a lesson GM failed to learn. Toyota is doing that well, proving the design is able to adapt to a changing market. RAV4 hybrid is an great example of that. The shift of demand from car to SUV is undeniable. Toyota delivered a platform to support that. With industry-top HV efficiency and a design able to accept a plug, that’s progress. It’s a natural step forward, as Prime clearly demonstrates.

I don’t know much about your suppose GM disdain or Toyota praise, but one thing I can agree, I mean, we can most of us agree is that GM should have offered Voltec to another platform to really kick the Japanese like they said they want.
That’s a sure thing.

CT6 PHEV didn’t work out in sales either.

Sometimes the future is past the vision of old eyes…

For all the positive that Bob Lutz in the past contributed to the EV revolution he has more than offset that contribution by setting the expectations of the GM EV program as a low volume “halo” demonstrator. Perhaps today the GM/Chevy Bolt would not be 10X outsold by Tesla Model 3 had Bob Lutz from the beginning set the tone that GM *would* be leading the EV revolution with volume production EVs.

Bob Lutz’s decision to go full tilt “Tesla will soon fail” rather than be silent or supportive of Tesla’s EV efforts was a huge miscalculation by Lutz which he made the even greater mistake of not taking an opportunity to walk back his anit-Tesla position but instead doubled down on it. Lutz’s anti-Tesla rants has big time hurt Lutz’s reputation of being able to predict the automotive future.

Today Lutz comes off as a has-been talking about his past EV Volt program which has been discontinued and has in statistical fact done little to allow GM to today compete against Tesla… which Lutz refuses to this day to recognize as a legitimate EV competitor.

Heck, today I would be driving a Bolt except how the GM salesman treated me. Bob does not seem to get that the entire chain must understand cars to sell them, and worse this is not the ‘good old days’ where your customers got all their information for marketing ads/magazine. Today, buyers can do all sort of internet search/videos/blogs, sell BS does not work as well as it used to.

NADA has to die , that and the way Old Auto does sales/service.

Corporate don’t have anything to do with dealers they just sale cars to them

Franchisers have plenty of authority over franchisees should they choose to exercise it.

Does MCD allow the masses of locally owned stores to say: “No, you don’t want a McRib. It is unhealthy/they always get cold/we are out today/I don’t know is it on the menu?/You’ll have to put an order in writing and we will make it tomorrow but look we have 3 Big Mac’s fresh off the grill right now, let’s try that.”

Obviously not.

When the McRib was available nationwide last November I could not find a single store selling them within a 50 mile radius of San Francisco. But if I looked in Southern California, they were readily available.

So yes, McD does allow their franchisees a fair amount of latitude in what products they choose to carry in a region, or during a special promotion.

I’m surprised people are even dealing with sales people. I told them the Bolt I wanted. I had an available suppliers discount that I told them about. Outside of handing me the keys to test drive, getting basic information such as insurance, etc.. and putting my current tags on the Bolt I didn’t speak to the “sales person”

-Volt, no car on the lot to test drive.
-Prius Prime – Battery not charged, had to run on gas.
-BMW i3? – Perfect ready to go.
( I leased the BMW i3. )

And I searched in that order.
So, Chevy lost a sale, then Toyota lost a sale.
( Model 3 needs leasing. )

Prius Prime – Battery not charged, had to run on gas in charge-mode initially. Switched to EV mode after a few miles of EV range became available.

You are assuming it had gas. You think a car with a battery that can be charged by just plugging it into the wall would have it’s batteries ready. A dead battery tells you a lot about the dealer you would have to go back to if there is any problems.

PS. What would you think of a car dealer who had no gas in the car s/he is asking to test drive and buy.

This is absurd. There is no “EV mode” if the battery wasn’t charged.

ICE hybrids without plugs do not have an “EV mode” in the sense that the term applies to EVs, and the Prime would have been operating exactly like a non-plugin ICE hybrid. By the crazy logic you’re using, if my Volt is out of battery, all I have to do is turn on Mountain Mode, sit and wait for the engine to recharge the battery using gasoline, and now I have another ~15 miles of “EV mode.” Wash, rinse, repeat every 15 miles and congratulations, the Volt gets “100% EV miles” while never needing to plug in at all!

So if I understand your criticism correctly, Lutz’s mistake was in starting GM’s EV program with a ~$40k “halo” sedan instead of aiming for volume production at the start. And the counterpoint you cite is… Tesla, who started with a ~$120k convertible and moved from there to a ~$90k luxury sedan and a ~$100k luxury SUV?

If anything, Lutz’s mistake was in making the Volt at all. GM probably should have went straight to the ELR, given it performance similar-or-superior to the Model S, and sold it for $100k.

Yes, the Volt was a mistake. GM most certainly should have started with a cost is not a problem Cadillac. Volumes would be low to get off the ground. This would have added life to GM’s halo make and allowed the technology to trickle down to Buick and Chevy. And also, spread the Voltec into CUVs, SUVs an trucks.

Government wanted the Volt out to due gas prices and public outrage when they were traveling in private jets asking for money

The Volt was spawned in 2007. Don’t blame the government. The financial troubles of 2008-2009 were a matter of convenience. It was a floundering GM at the time and Lutz wanted to compete with Toyota like Lutz was saying but also felt he didn’t want to be outdone by Tesla. His and GM’s lack of understanding of all the parameters involved led them to a tweener Chevy that didn’t really have a market other than it had 40 miles electric range. Engineers did a remarkable job in developing the Volt in the time-frame given but the parameters were flawed. Gen 2 was also a double down on many of the management and marketing decision mistakes of Gen 1. Probably the biggest flaw in all of it was that GM always and only saw value in the Volt as a halo car.

>> Probably the biggest flaw in all of it was that GM always and only saw value in the Volt as a halo car.

That’s how enthusiasts became such a problem, pushing mainstream hope with a niche vehicle. It was a conflict of goals they absolutely refused to accept.

This is why the “too little, too slowly” concern grew. GM didn’t show any interest toward spreadiing technology to a popular vehicle, like Equinox.

So much loyal customer opportunity was missed, while wasting tax–credits on conquest sales for the sake of that halo.

Please stop repeating this myth. The Volt was in development years before the government bailout of GM. The fact that the Volt went into production around the time of the bailout, or very shortly thereafter, is almost completely coincidence.

Yup, the Volt was such a mistake that it is the best-selling plug-in in North America.. Brilliant comment there.

GM fans can take solace that at least GM marketing is on the ball in Mexico. Seems the Mexican Government has (in all their Brilliance) decided that the way to stop thieves from Stealing OIL from a pipeline via 25,000 ‘holes’ in the pipe is to SHUT DOWN THE PIPELINE and deliver it all BY TRUCK (which just happens to be much slower, and is 14 X more expensive to do so).

Meanwhile Mexican Gasoline stations are mostly shut down due to lack of Gasoline, and someone at GM came up with the GREAT IDEA that people should use their BOLTS and VOLTS to electrically go around and look for new holes in the pipeline for the gov’t, since they are the only vehicles that can reliably go around on electricity since no one has a reliable gasoline supply until the gov’t changes their Great Brain policy.

Rather surprised there hasn’t been an IEVs article on this since it happened a few days ago.

I’m on my second Volt, so my personal opinion of the car should be clear.
But given that GM just cancelled the best-selling EV in US history, their opinion should be equally clear. So with that in mind, I say: maybe if the Volt never existed and the ELR was significantly higher-end, we’d be talking about the marvelous success of the new $45k Buick EV, instead of sadly commiserating the Volt’s demise.

@Spider-Dan said: “
So if I understand your criticism correctly, Lutz’s mistake was in starting GM’s EV program with a ~$40k “halo” sedan instead of aiming for volume production at the start…”

My criticism is that Lutz EV vision for GM was highly constrained to just matching what the Japanese were then doing… there was no Lutz vision for GM as an organization to have an aggressive path towards high volume all-electric EVs to ensure GM was the future market share leader in EV.

Lutz positioned GM’s EV program as a demonstration program to make GM look good… a halo car… and that was sole purpose of GMs EV program in addition to meeting minimum compliance credits.

There was no Lutz vision for Volt to be a gateway car to eventually lead a GM transition towards high volume all-electric cars… and in fact Lutz was critical of that type of EV ambition. So when Tesla set out to do EV in high volume Lutz was critical of that Tesla ambition because Lutz had prior taken the position it was not doable.

Lutz has been out of GM for over half a decade. The market has changed a lot since them. Lutz didn’t even think the Bolt should have been made. GM has thousands of engineers and I’m sure they have EV’s of all shapes and sizes running around. The question comes down to price. GM doesn’t even sale cars into the $100k unless it some super special edition. So whatever they make will start at GM prices.

To be fair, the new Prius Prime COPIED one of the FLAWS of the Volt Gen 1.0.
To limit sales?
The Prime too, is a 4 seat only car.

He’s was not in company after 2010. Blame current management for GM EVs woos

I don’t agree 100%. Tesla and GM have to operate differently. The market allows Tesla to make little or no profit. GM does not have that luxury. Most automakers don’t have that luxury. With Tesla the question is can they keep growing fast enough to stay ahead of the market shift. They’ve had almost a decade with no competition in their price range. That’s going to change within the year and the luxury high end market is pretty capped.

Viper? Wow Bob, just wow…

Yea GM leapfrogged Toyota, who produced a hybrid by producing a ….. hybrid. Really innovative Bob.

Leap-Frog was with respect top sales. Lutz was going nuts seeing so many Prius on the road. Volt was intended to exceed that volume.

It has nothing to do with sales. It has to do with Technological perception. GM developed the Volt in a time when they were getting blasted for producing Hummers. While Toyota got a free pass producing gas guzzling Sequoia’s and Land Cruisers because they also produced the Prius.

Prius currently changed the overall fleet though, bringing about cleaner overall. Volt barely achieved niche sales. Big difference.

The cool thing about the Volt, however, is that it showed that you did not have to drive a turd to drive efficiently. That was a great thing.


2 demerits from the constipated types with no sense of humor.

Wrong. Listen to the video again/first.

The issue was Totota’s Green cred and technical image. Volt’s entire mission was to showcase GM’s tech and it exceeded their wildest dreams. The current PHEV’s out there are still inferior.

GM had a fuel cell program and rolling units long before Murai hit the streets. GM had a deployed EV long before Tesla was a company. GM’s current EV is STILL more affordable than anybody else and is deployed nationwide not just compliance.

All that tech is in their computers cooking up EV Cadillacs. Toyota will never catch up. They are still wasting resources on fossil tech. Including NG-based hydrogen cars.

It’s interesting to read claims of “inferior” still, so many years after having been proven wrong.

Fanboys like their niche and don’t recognize what ordinary consumers will actually purchase.

Notice the car in the still frame of the video. It appears Lutz thinks GM’s glory is a ’50s Cadillac. Bring back the tail fins! (and 10 mpg)

I bet many people would buy that old Caddy IF it was converted to EV
See this

Let the dinosaurs go extinct Bob.

Bob Putz was part of the problem.

Looks like poor old Bob in his own demented way (Viper, really…)is trying to rewrite history to better fit his mission to undermine Tesla because this is what he had to say back in 2009 about what inspired Volt:

“In 2006 I could think of only one company that openly was planning to build an electric vehicle powered by lithium ion batteries and that was Tesla,” Mr Lutz said.

“I will tell you that they gave us the major impetus, and I am thankful to Tesla for furnishing us with the truth that was needed for us to champion the Volt to the corporation that other people believed in lithium ion technology as well.“

It’s already been well documented that Lutz’s original intention was to make a Corvette-like hypercar to compete with Tesla. One of his lieutenants convinced him that the more important threat was Toyota, and so the Volt was engineered to compete with the Prius.

Apparently Lutz should have went with his first instinct and just made a hypercar.

In Bob Lutz’s book Car Guy’s vs. bean counters Tesla was just a start up with no products when GM started the Volt program. So Tesla was never part of the equation at that time. Tesla only became a mention when it came time to select a battery supplier for the Volt and GM was debating to use a Lithium Ion based chemistry.

A few citations: But the biggest naysayers Lutz faced were inside his own company. After being burned by the failure of its EV1 electric car in the ’90s (the subject of Paine’s film), GM was gun-shy about plugging in again. When Lutz first proposed creating an electric car in 2003, the idea “bombed” inside GM, he says. “I got beaten down a number of times.” After pouring billions into engineering futuristic fuel-cell cars (still years away from production), GM engineers didn’t want to switch gears to a plug-in electric, which they insisted couldn’t be run on lithium-ion batteries. The turning point came when tiny Tesla Motors, a Silicon Valley start-up, announced in 2006 that it would produce a speedy electric sports car powered by those same laptop batteries. “That tore it for me,” says Lutz. ‘If some Silicon Valley start-up can solve this equation, no one is going to tell me anymore that it’s unfeasible.” So in 2006, Lutz formed a skunkworks team of engineers and designers to quickly cobble together the Chevy Volt concept car, which became the star of the 2007 Detroit Auto Show. And then he persuaded the brass to greenlight the Volt for production by arguing… Read more »

Yeah – thanks Spider-Dan… Shows Lutz was far more imaginative than his critics, and also that he was not too proud to listen to a more practical idea.

If the Volt was meant to compete with the prius, why make it a compact? Unless they switched ideas midway?

I imagine it was technical (read: cost) reasons: making a mid-size car takes more horsepower and battery for the same performance/range. Kind of like why the 1st-gen Prius was a compact car.

People still give this FOSSIL their time? I want my 2:50 min.s back

When you acomplish what he did then you can talk,right now you sound like a moron

Living in the past tends to make you keep living in the past while the world passes you buy, especially when wearing blinders.

Who is this “Boob Putz” guy anyway?

Nice Chevy convertible maybe a ’63, really out of date but a classic, sort of like Bob Lutz.

Give the man some respect. What he says is accurate and believable. Without Bob there would have been no Volt. I have a Volt and I’m happy for that. It is disappointing that the Volt has been cancelled and it undermines what GM started out to do: enhance perceptions of the company as one committed, at least in part, to environmental vehicles. What is truly disappointing is that US and Canadian buyers love big vehicles and couldn’t give a damn about the environment. That is the reality. The other reality is that hybrid and EVs are more costly to build and to make a profit from than big ICE vehicles. It is the customer who is buying the SUVs, trucks, & Crossover SUVs. Bob Lutz deserves more credit: those who slam him should be circumspect and respectful. The story at Tesla is not over yet.

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

How are the Via motors sales there Slob Klutz?
Your Volt got canceled.

I did not hear him say a word about the Volt, only autonomous stuff. Was the link changed?

The videos are short and I watched both at 2x. I am surprised to admit, that I have to agree with everything he has to say.
He doesn’t sound like the calcified-stuck-in-a-rut-idiot that I thought he was.
How GM survives in the next 5 to 15 yrs, i.e., how they make money and keep the lights on in this transition is another story and it sounds like others at GM are tasked to figure it out.

I thought this was going to be another “watch and hear the stupid things Bob Lutz has to say now” video, but it looks like he sees the future. I’ll give credit where credit is due, despite what he has done in the past.

Musk could have said what Lutz just said there. I am surprised Lutz has realized self-driving vehicles are the future.

I don’t know why anyone pays any attention to what he says, he was predicting Tesla would fail spectacularly 4 years ago, and that the EV would be a fad.

Sorry, but some old car guys, just cannot let go, eh? …. you had your moment of fame, but it’s over. Just enjoy the retirement and money, as long as you can.

It can be insanely hard not to be seduced by your own past successes/accomplishments. Bob seems not to have found a route around this particular pitfall.

Folks, we need to realize that the real problem facing GM moving forward in 2019 is that they have reached the 200,000 car limit for the federal tax credit and it is now in the phase out period and by end of the year will be gone. The tax credit phase-out was designed very poorly by politicians. It does a great deal of damage to the car companies that began introducing EVs early. The phase out is particularly devastating to GM since they focus on the mid and low end of the EV market from a price perspective. The Volt and the Bolt will have to compete with other manufacturer’s brands (such as the Honda Clarity PHEV) that have the full tax credit for a long time to come. In the less than $40k car market, the loss of that $7,500 is impossible to overcome when other manufacturers have it. Why would anyone buy a Volt without the tax credit when they could get the larger Honda Clarity PHEV with the credit? GM saw the writing on the wall and cancelled production of the Volt before the sales numbers embarrassed them and forced them to do it. The Bolt will… Read more »


I don’t know if losing the tax credit will have a big affect on GM. I think the Bolt was designed as $30k car from the beginning. They sold it at $38k to $43k because the tax credit allowed them too. I don’t know if Tesla can say the same about the Model 3. They made a $40k car they hope they can get down to $35k.

Yeah, I’ve seen listings in California for fully loaded Bolt premier (MSRP above $40k) for $32k before incentives. Must be nice to live in a ZEV CARB state, in that regards.

By 2021, GM will have cost and profit parity with their EVs, compared to their ICE. And won’t really need the federal tax credit.

As a halo car, it absolutely worked. They got all kinds of publicity from the car, and it was a really impressive piece of engineering.

I don’t think I’d have previously considered a Chevy, yet I ended up getting a Volt in 2013 and really liked it. It got me hooked on the instant torque of an electric motor, and it became a game to see how many miles I could go on electric only.

The problem is that technology kept moving forward, and the Bolt wasn’t good enough from a looks/performance standpoint, so last year I left GM and switched to a Model 3. But, if it wasn’t for the Volt, I may not have gotten the Tesla.

As people have said ad naseum, GM really should put the Voltec drivetrain in an Equinox or similar SUV/CUV. Clearly, the Pacifica shows a PHEV works for a large vehicle. GM would be able to sell a bunch of them. Too bad they didn’t do it earlier before 200k electric sales was reached.

I followed a similar path (with an ELR in between my 2012 Volt and Model 3 Performance). As for the tax credit, there are still places with EV refunds so even car manufacturers that have consumed the federal tax credit can focus sales in those markets.

The Pacifica is nice, but I think the problem is cars like that demand a premium. So unless your just wanting to be green the cost recovery at current gas prices will take awhile. So instead of focusing on transitional technology (PHEV) why not aim for the destination – EV. Also PHEV require a lot more explaining during the sales cycle. If you don’t plug it in it might get worse mileage than a normal ICE.

If I don’t plug in my Prime, I still get amazing hybrid efficiency. The problem with Volt was it only delivered a modest improvement.

As for explaining, that’s nonsense. When you plug in, you get much higher MPG.

“If I don’t lower the top in my convertible – say, when it is cold, or raining – the benefits compared to a normal coupe are practically non-existent.”

Sure, if you don’t plug in a Prime or a Volt, the Prime looks pretty shiny. The problem is that when you plug both of them in as designed, the Volt absolutely blows the Prime away.

Pretty interesting that the Prime finished below the Clarity PHEV for the second time last month. Sure would be a shame if that trend continued…

My CT6 PHEV, a full size luxury sedan, gets better stats than Prime. I don’t really give a crap about j1701’s contrived corner cases. I’m not driving an ugly crappy Prius.

Unless GM totally screws the pooch, I’m trading her in for a Cadillac EV. Tesla needs to do a lot of bridge-building in Texas to get me over there.

3 stars for effort

Gm , the original decision by committee. Should of had a full l range by now c,trucks suvs ccuvs sedans, all off c one frame.

I’ve seen a lot, but I can’t really believe all this Vile Hatred here toward Bob Lutz – a person who certainly had one of the most envious careers in the auto industry….. He obviously retired way too early just because No one likes to be constantly insulted at absolutely everything he tried to do.

I don’t feel bad when I just get silly demerits for a thoughtful comment. The loud mouths here have no sense of humor about anything.

I bet some of those will be shell-shocked in the future.

Hate usualy comes from Jealous Losers unable to do anything better,

@Bill Howland said: “… I can’t really believe all this Vile Hatred here toward Bob Lutz…”

I can’t really believe all the Vile Hatred Bob Lutz towards Tesla and Tesla fans:

Bob Lutz said: “…Tesla supporters are like members of a religious cult… Elon, God bless him, hasn’t delivered a thing… Tesla is headed for the graveyard…”

Oh you are just jumping to conclusions. Mostly Bob Lutz has stated that the financial condition of Tesla isn’t sustainable. What Lutz perhaps didn’t realize is that it didn’t have to be. They work on a different business model than most other companies.

@Bill Howard said: “Oh you are just jumping to conclusions. Mostly Bob Lutz has stated that the financial condition of Tesla isn’t sustainable…”

Lutz did not limit his Tesla criticism to Tesla’s financial condition:

Bob Lutz said:
“[compared to traditional car makers] Tesla has no advantage no technological advantage no software advantage no battery advantage no advantages whatsoever… in a year or two we will see a movie called Who Killed Tesla…” -source:

starting @1:20mn

…. continued

I was at one time a Bob Lutz fan. Lutz has an impressive resume of accomplishments inside and outside of automotive including serving in the United States Marine Corps. I admire Lutz’s direct talk instead of the typical corp suit speak.

I was a fan and supporter of Lutz’s Chevy Volt program in the early days of the Volt. I back then did not grasp GM had no desire to push EVs beyond limited production halo cars. Yes Lutz had labeled Volt as a limited production halo car but I thought Volt was just a first step towards an aggressive GM EV program… I was wrong.

Lutz did not fall off my fan list because he was critical of Tesla…

Lutz fall off my fan list because Lutz went hardcore against Tesla to the point it was obvious Lutz had a personal hatred towards Tesla. Lutz is eager to see Tesla fail to prove Lutz’s hard taken position that Tesla would not succeed bringing high volume consumer cars to market… he has allowed his reputation to be tied to Tesla’s failing.

When Lutz became the cheerleader of “Tesla will fail” he lost me as a fan.

I’m guessing I’m not alone on this.

We live in a rural area and own a 2018 Volt. It fills a valuable niche here where charging infrastructure is almost nonexistent. The Volt allows us to travel to one of three smaller nearby cities on electric only, yet when we need to go farther there’s no problem. As far as reliability, after 26,000 miles, we’ve had no issues. As far as cost, after state grants and tax credits it cost us $22,000. By charging during off peak periods, 12:30 AM to 7:00 AM we’re paying 3 cents per mile for fuel vs 9 cents per mile with our previous gasoline powered car. As far as handling, the battery midships gives it a lower center of gravity and it handles better that any front wheel drive car I’ve ever driven.
The fact is, until the charging infrastructure improves tremendously, wide areas of rural America will be out of reach to electric vehicles, The Volt serves a valuable bridge to the future here.

And that’s why it’s a mystery why this car is cancelled.

But, that’s a trend with GM CEO’s, they cancel the projects of previous CEO’s.
When Mary Barra goes, so goes the Bolt, out the window.

It’s no mystery. It was built on the Cruze platform and shared many components. Cruze sales were in decline as were the other vehicles made at that plant. With closing the plant that makes the Cruze, there is just not enough economy of scale to make sense to keep the Volt going.

Well said ! The Volt is our only car, and it allows us to drive to remote areas in our state with no charging infrastructure to speak of. Not doable with a pure EV.

Could have written your comment myself.

We really need to STOP LISTENING to these old fossils. As Max Planck said, science advances one funeral at time. There’s no point in listening to an ancient climate-change-denying fossil that helped bankrupt an automaker!

I suppose Bob will always talk about his glory days. It’s what people do when they are relegated to retirement homes… which is where Bob ought to be.

I honestly don’t understand why people keep interviewing him. He has nothing to say that’s relevant to the future, or even the current state of the art of EV tech.

More crap from the Lutz BS generator

There will still be old human-driven cars on the roads for a long, long time. And it will be something when consumers buy cars that can’t drive manually whenever they don’t want to.
I love the electric future

I think it is a mistake simply to refer to the Volt as a PHEV and leave it at that. The Volt is truly unique. With one exception, all other PHEVs have an electric range below 30 miles and will switch to the gasoline engine under strong acceleration. The Volt has over 50 miles of electric range and always stays in pure electric mode, except under rare circumstances. Only the Honda Clarity approaches the Volt’s electric performance, but even the Clarity is prone to switching to gas mode during normal use.

The problem with the Volt was not the Voltec technology, which I think is genius, but the Cruze platform GM used for the Volt. It was too small.

>> With one exception, all other PHEVs have an electric range below 30 miles and will switch to the gasoline engine under strong acceleration.


Even with the pedal dropped all the way to the floor in Prius Prime, the engine will *NOT* start when in “EV” mode.

Reviewers often mistake “EV Auto” mode to mean pure electric-only operation. Their mixup is understandable. Spreading that confusion here is not.

Agreed. the Cruze platform made it a 2+2, instead of a family car.
So, market was limited to single people, couples, and couples with small kids and a plan to sell it in 10 years. Back seat room was a bit tight.

But, the Mustang has good sales.
So, why not the Volt?
The Ford Mustang, 2017, sold 81,000 cars.
With the Volt being around 2x the price, you could reasonably expect to sell 20,000 Volts a year.
That’s about all the sales GM got, so right on target.
GM knew they’d never sell more than 30,000 a year.

No one asks if a family of 5 will fit in a Model 3, because they will.

“First robotaxis in 5 years.” I guess if you ignore what Google is doing in Phoenix. If you recognize that, we have already seen the first. Otherwise, his timelines don’t seem overly pessimistic, e.g. most transport in cities being self driving robotaxis in 15 years.

I would consider buying Volt..only IF it was Rear wheel drive..
Rear drive handles better,corners better and has better balance..everyone knows this,except GM engineers it seems.
All race cars,,
high powered exotics and Tesla are Rear wheel drive for that simple reason..
GM should build Hybrid Electric TRUCKs pronto IF they want to stay in busines..pure Electric wont do because they have NO Charging Network like Tesla..

Maybe GM should buy Via motors or Workhorse

When you live in the fast lane, yeah, that’ll be true. However zillion of people just need a car to move themselves and stuff from A to B without spending all they have for it.
On a day to day basis, front wheel drive just kicks any, I say any, rear wheel drive in snow or ice. But don’t tell anyone, because they might already know it.
It’s incredibly easy to get out of plowing snow steering right and left, up and down that you can’t do with the free spinning rear drive except being stuck forever.

Gm share holders need to start building for the future instead of demanding quarterly improvements, and then sacking execs who don’t produce ever improving returns! I bet if you look at Toyota board of directors the stability will be far greater than GM

What does he have to say about the Bolt EV Program and where GM’s going with electrification?

Love my Volt.

GM main problem was and is leaders like Bob Lutz. His narrow vision and miscalculation on future trend caused GM to loose market share to Toyota an others.

Interesting take that the Volt was intended to leap frog Toyota and change the perception of the company. They tried that again with the Bolt by being the first to market with a 200+ mile range EV under $40k. It’s still the only EV you can get in all 50states with more than 200miles range for under $40k.

Turned in my Volt lease last Thursday. Best car I ever owned. But Model 3 is next. My goal and dream car.

My 2015 Volt is the greatest vehicle I ever owned.I gave up explaining to others why it only travels 35 miles on a charge,which is perfect.They just don’t understand what makes it tick.Too bad,they are missing the whole point and will never enjoy a fantastic car like the Volt.

PHEV’s are a viable product. Other manufacturers recognize this and are savvy enough to pick up where GM left off. GM blazed the trail creating the benchmark vehicle but got lost in the wilderness because their marketing department is sorely inept and their dealers were not motivated or incentivized to move the units. GM evidently doesn’t understand that the sales process always follows the path of least resistance unless there is additional compensation to offset that natural phenomenon.

F#@& Bob Lutz.

…, maybe the technology was not mature enough but had GM designed the Volt to give maybe 60 or 70 EPA miles of all electric range right off the bat, that car would have been a winner. That’s enough range for the everyday commute to the cubicle, pick the kids up from school and a trip to the grocer or doctor, yet the gas engine would have permitted trips to the cottage or further to visit the grandparents. That initial short range reinforced range anxiety that surrounded all electric back in 2010.

In temperatures over 40 deg my 2018 Volt always ranges over 60 miles and ideal conditions get me 70 miles although I rarely need that much anyway. btw: The national average daily commute is only 36 miles round trip.

My 2012 Volt now pushing 100k is the best car I ever owned (in 70 yrs I’ve owned a few). Not one drop of trouble. I have used it on cross country and local. Very, very inexpensive to operate. Every Volt owner I have known or read about feels the same way. (I am sure there must be an exception out there somewhere) The car was just too good to be true. Too bad!