Video: Bob Lutz Talks VIA Up At The Volt’s Expense – Again.

JAN 29 2014 BY JAY COLE 25

It’s a classic “chicken or egg” scenario – does Bob Lutz seek out all the press within a 100 mile area, or does the press find him?

We Caught Up With VIA At Both The Detroit And LA Show This Year

We Caught Up With VIA At Both The Detroit And LA Show This Year

This latest tête-à-tête comes with British media giant, the BBC. (video below)

As the interview took place at the Detroit Auto Show 2014 NAIAS, the conversation centered around one of Bob’s current projects – VIA Motors, and the extended range trucks and vans that are currently in production (a SUV will be manufactured later in the year).

The bulk of the interview with the BBC’s Michelle Fleury focuses on the basics of what the extended range truck can do – namely up to 40 miles on pure electricity before switching over to a gas engine, but Mr. Lutz couldn’t help but take a small poke at his previous creation with General Motors, the Chevrolet Volt.

“…the beauty of doing this with the trucks is that you are transforming a vehicle that normally gets in town 12 to maximum 14 MPG, and your taking that electric, which when you think about makes much more sense than electrifying a small car like the Volt – which would get about 35 MPG anyway”

As usual Bob does make a salient point that we actually agree with – however it does seem a touch ingenious coming from Mr. Lutz (as does using ‘city’ MPGs after a career of touting highway mileage on gas burners) after his steadfast promotion of the Volt as the best thing going for years when he was with GM.

Still, we hope VIA Motors finds success with their extended range workhorses – and convinces one of the major auto makers to follow suit.

Categories: VIA Motors

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25 Comments on "Video: Bob Lutz Talks VIA Up At The Volt’s Expense – Again."

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The Volt still makes perfect sense, even if larger vehicles make even MORE sense. This is not an either-or situation (although as CEO(?) of VIA, he naturally wants to outdo the competition).

This is also true of conventional hybrids – making a hybrid SUV makes MORE sense than making a hybrid mid-sized car. Both will save ~20-25% of the fuel consumption. If the consumer is going to buy the SUV anyway, he’s saving 25% of a larger number, and therefore more gas. Going from an SUV to a Prius isn’t a fair comparison because he’s save gas downsizing his vehicle anyway!

Bob, the environmentalist. I wonder what his real beef is with the Volt/GM.

The issue here is Bob is a bit too modest. He’s not really dissing the Volt, since you have to walk before you can run, and I’m sure Bob knows that. The Ford F-150 is the most popular vehicle in America. If every other f-150 was replaced by a Via Truck, the oil industry would make Lutz an offer he couldn’t refuse. In other words, Bob isn’t upset with the Volt, since its a ‘second’ try at mass marketing a vehicle and its been successful. But Bob is saying you can save a lot MORE gasoline by converting a big truck, and Its even Big enough that Brian’s family or families like his will find enough room in the vehicle for their family and / or work needs. So the vehicle is a BIG game changer even more so than the volt has been. It wins 2 big ways… 1). The 3 vehicle styles (SUV, PICKUP, and VAN) are used in business and pleasure by a huge swath of the American driving public so it has huge mass appeal. 2). If the average driver goes from 14 mpg to 100 mpg (including the electric miles), this one brand of vehicle… Read more »

His statement only makes sense from a perspective of a business who is trying to cut costs. The average person is not going to pay the amount of money they are asking for a VIA truck no matter how much money it will save them. Also I personally would rather have a Volt 100 to 1 over a truck no matter what the truck is powered by because I don’t like big vehicles. But that is a individual preference and obviously there are a lot of people that like big trucks.

I would love to be able to get a version of my LEAF’s power package in the next generation Titan. We take extended camping trips into California’s Sierra Nevada mountains, hence my need for holding onto my Xterra. I’m one of those who love big trucks. I just tired of filling my 2008 Titan’s 37 gal. tank every 5-6 days. If Nissan were to build that Titan I could once again be happy in a full size truck knowing I’d only be burning gas once every few months and looking to the day when I could get a Titan as a full BEV! Now that would be heaven, driving the gang and 8 days of supplies into the mountains in a 100% Zero emission full size truck.

It would make much more sense to walk or to take the bike.

How much drywall, 2 x 4s and plywood can you haul with a bike, in the wintertime???

You mean for the next housing bubble? 🙂

Too bad Maximum Bob isn’t real Tweet and Facebook savvy. Otherwise, he’d be making Musk-esque comments over the interwebs and gaining much more notoriety for VIA. He’s right, you know. GM has Voltec and knows how easily the battery packs fit inside their truck’s frame rails. The new Colorado midsize trucks would be perfect candidates for an affordable EREV Volt truck. But we know they won’t do it. It’s too easy. GM would rather plug on, fighting Ford and their new aluminum-bodied F-150. GM likes to follow – not lead. You can write a book with all the examples where GM tags behind, watching it’s competitors gain competitive advantage, only to be drug into the fight. It’s taken multiple misses over decades for GM to finally equal the BMW 3 and 5 series. You have to give them the props for ATS and CTS, but it’s shameful they took so long to accomplish that task. Here they have Volt, and all the supply lines and tech heavy lifting accomplished to build an affordable EREV truck – they could revolutionize the industry – will they? — NO WAY! It’s a no-brainer that an EREV truck would change the world. They’re the… Read more »

Er…I meant VIA…VIA makes them look stupid ( GM )…. I so long
for an edit feature on this site……!

Why should GM be embarrassed when the plan was to buy VIA after it took all the risk?

Will GM buy VIA and shelve the tech? Maybe. Remember
BRIGHT AUTOMOTIVE and it’s innovative van?

Can GM buy Tesla? Maybe. If it does – and kills the electric
car—AGAIN, there’d be hell to pay for the giant automaker.

It’s why the Tesla story just keeps getting better and better.
The tiny David that made the giants change the way they
did business.

Sure it hasn’t happened yet – but every Supercharger built
and Tesla sold makes it come closer to reality. Each success
makes the big guys look dumber and dumber for going on
with biz as usual. Everything from their dealer’s tactics
to the way they advertise.

It seems, from his PR interviews, anyway, that Musk is determined
to stay the course. If he doesn’t fold and sell to a larger company,
he wins and the rewards are HUGE. If not, he’s jacking up the price
of the stock and he’ll make a ton, and stick a knife in the heart
of the affordable ICE’d auto replacement of the future.

I might add the detail: “Over a million sold per year”… and
THAT IS JUST GM! – Between the Chevy Silverado and it’s GMC
sister truck, yearly sales is around 1 million. Add to this the
million more F-150s and toss in another 5-600,000 full-sized
trucks from Dodge, Toyota and Nissan.

That’s a LOT OF C02 FOLKS! That’s a lot of profits for whomever
leads that segment. Hey – if it’s June and gas prices are well over
$4.00/gallon like they get here in Seattle each year… That
EREV Chevy truck that gets 90mpg – 35mpg in range-extended
mode, and doubles as a vehicle-to-grid savior during power
outages – AND powers my equipment while on the jobsite……
and $50-55,000 doesn’t sound to exhorbitant!

As I’ve said – dealers are now laying on the options like nav,
infotainment and laser-cruise ( OnStar… ) where they are showing
huge profit margins per unit sold. It’s not unusual for a truck
loan going out the door with a $50,000 pricetag. This fact
alone makes a mass-produced EREV pickup with a 40-50
mile AER look fascinatingly attractive.

GM certainly lead plug-ins with the Volt. Hands down.

Personally I love the VIA concept. My 99 dodge ram gets 9 MPG, not even 12. And I do need to keep it around for truck stuff. Costs me $200/mo just driving around our small town on little errands (yes I know, I could bicycle).

But at 80K, the VIA stuff is a non-starter for me right now.

In essence, what Lutz is correctly pointing out is that the truck, or business space, does the math behind fuel savings, where consumers largely haven’t figured out what electric miles mean, in dollars.

Consumers think the margins to electric $$ savings are incremental, or similar to other yearly improvements in mpg. They don’t know, or aren’t discovering they have access to Time-Of-Use (TOU), off-peak utility rates, etc, etc.

So, when they hear the Volt gets “35mpg anyway”, they take it as close to the cost of electricity. -LOL, it’s their job to do homework and Bob’s job to SELL.

EXACTLY. I’ve thought about doing a piece on just that.

Go to and look at hundreds of Chevy dealers
quoting Volt’s mileage figure as “40 mpg”. Who in their right
mind would buy a $40,000 4 seater that got the same mileage
as other manufacturer’s ( Camry ) hybrids that cost less and
seat more?!!!

Does GM correct this nonsense? Nope! They’d rather run
Corvette ads during the Superbowl and hype the latest
$70,000 limited-run Camaro ( ZL-1; Z/28 ). If ELR is going
to last a couple years – don’t expect a gen2 Volt whose
capabilities make ELR look even more stupid.

When Mary Barra, Ruess and others call Volt a niche halo,
we can’t expect some great new gen2 Volt is on the way.

GM is really stinkin’ it up lately.

Hey GM – Try to build a decent HYBRID already, OK?
Since you ditched Voltec, you could try to catch up to Hyundai
and KIA, even!


Agree, there’s no bunny under the top hat. Only smoke and broken mirrors. What are the chances that GM is listening to Toyota’s hydrogen fuel cell propaganda spewed by Bob Carter and thinking, gee, we’d better get back into that racket.

Last time people were questioning the realization of the Volt GM did pull it through but at least there were signs and there was Bob, that previous version of him anyway.

This time there is only silence.

What bob says makes sense, but I don’t see why it dosen’t make more sense to have a 80, 100, 150 or 200 mile truck with battery only. It would handle the entire day’s range for a typical service truck, and cut out all gas/diesel use. And a truck could haul more batteries than a car. There’s a lot of room under the truck bed.

I could see that as an option that works pretty well in some cases, but in other cases an additional vehicle would be required.

Decades ago I did some work for construction and landscape companies in MT and day to day the trucks would probably drive 5-30 miles but occasionally there would be jobs that were farther out where the range choice you gave would not work. A lot of trucks (or SUV’s (like in the picture of this article) are used around town M-F and then are taken out of town on the weekend or for week long trips, perhaps pulling a boat or camper.

I wonder if you had those options, along with an EREV which would sell better.

So following Bob Lutz’ just slightly self-serving logic, we should electrify the vehicles with the worst gas mileage first regardless of how many are on the roads?
Why isn’t he after 16-wheelers, garbage trucks, or military vehicles such as tanks then?

Given how many Volts vs VTrux have been sold, or are expected to be in the foreseeable future, sorry Bob, GM’s PHVs will save more gas overall than VIA’s.

Improving the efficiency of trucks and vans definitely should be done, and it’s great that VIA tackles that, but in the grand scheme of things, GM’s initial focus on a more popular vehicle is in no way less important.

Well, you and Lutz rather agree then. The f-150 is the biggest seller in the whole country right now. A volticized competitor to that vehicle just makes sense. While many do not need a large vehicle and would dislike the Via, many Business people do, and think of all the Gasoline that can be saved if all those vehicles operated most of the time on batteries. Why Gm isn’t dropping a voltec into a Colorado, I have no idea, except that they’re committee – happy. They surely would not have come up with the Volt had not Lutz pushed for it repeatedly. At least they’ve come out with a second model, the ELR.. One place where in my opinion Lutz dropped the ball is showing up to these auto shows with a custom 800 hp xTrux. This just cloulds the issue. In the first place, they’re not mass producing that item. They are mass producing the 400 hp model, which more and more business people are warming up to, since fuel costs go way down, (it runs on the cheapest electricity available, after midnight, since a typical business will have their peak demands during the day and you can add… Read more »

Another big saving is since the engine only runs when the battery goes dead, and then not even all the time, and always at its highest efficiency point, the engine lasts alot longer, besides just sipping gasoline instead of gulping it down. The vehicle only has to be overhauled 1/3 as often as the gasoline only version. That’s a BIG savings, and more than wipes out the replacement batteries that will be needed after 8 – 10 years. There’s also no automatic transmission to be changed out at 100,000 miles since there isn’t any.

In 2013, approx. 55% of vehicles sold in USA where trucks with F-150 being the largest volume vehicle by far. Only west coast states (CA, OR, & WA) and northeast (NY) saw higher passenger car sales than trucks (including SUVs and Vans).

I think Bob is on to something, a large market with few/no hybrids, or electric drivetrains. The substatinually higher operating costs for fossil trucks will have fleet manages looking at the alternative.

Wait till tesla truck it will decimate via truck