Some Tesla supporters hate the guts out of Bob Lutz, but they shouldn’t. The Chevy Volt father is totally into electrification as the only way to save the automobile, but he does not keep good nor bad to himself.
In a recent interview for Autoline After Hours, Lutz commented on Tesla’s current situation – at around 31:30 – and spared no words to describe the Model Y. Here’s what he said about it.
Gallery: 2020 Tesla Model Y
“The Model Y, I think it is terminally ugly. I don't know who's going to buy that. It is another one of those humpback things like the Model X. It's neither a sport utility nor a sedan, and to the extent it sells, I don't think it is going to break into a new segment. I think sales will be largely substitutional to the Model 3's.”
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Even EV fans have stated the same concerns with the Model Y and the Model X, but they forgive these vehicles with the “form follows function” argument. In other words, the Model Y and the Model X have to be that way to improve aerodynamics and be more efficient. For Lutz, that is no excuse for the way these vehicles look.
Concerning Tesla, he said “they’re building, they’re delivering,” and that the company is currently facing “relative stability.”
The interview happened before the company released its Q3 2019 Earnings report. Anyway, we suspect Lutz is still not convinced the company will be profitable in the long term. He claims there is a lot of “unsubstantiated hype” around the company, and he names two examples: the new Roadster and the Semi.
“I don't think they are going to do that sports car anytime soon. They certainly are not going to do the Semi. If they did, they would be extremely foolish because that whole market is not enough to make a difference.”
According to Lutz, “thanks to clever marketing and PR,” what Tesla has is “more image value than an equivalent electric Chevrolet” because it would not have anything different to offer.
“I continue to believe that, and I keep repeating ad nauseam: when it comes to electrification technology, Tesla is at exactly the same place as everybody else: they use lithium-ion. The only reason why Tesla had more range was because they had a bigger battery.”
What we missed in Lutz's assessment was the technology Tesla offers, such as Autopilot, and Smart Summon, but not only that. The company’s app works perfectly, while Nissan has not managed to do Leaf’s work. Tesla vehicles' MCU controls most of their functions. Despite the limited lifespan of this component, it also impresses customers, so there’s more than only the larger battery involved.
Do you agree that the Model Y is “one of those humpback things?” Do more people agree? Again, Lutz may not be very popular among Tesla supporters, but Elon Musk respects what he says.
Not without reason: he is one of the most experienced car executives still around. It does not hurt to pay attention. Rick Wagoneer did that, and that is probably what saved GM from biting the dust.