Audi North America President Johan de Nysschen claims he didn't really call Volt buyers "idiots" and rather meant the business model was idiotic.  (Source:

The Chevy Volt is set to debut next year, priced at approximately $40,000.
In an interview with a leading site on the Volt, an Audi executive looks to lay controversy to rest

Audi North America President Johan de Nysschen raised a ruckus earlier this week when he commented to a senior auto journalist that the Chevy Volt was a "car for idiots" and that the industry wasn't ready for electric vehicles.  Ironically, the comments came just weeks before Audi was expected to introduce its first plug-in concept.  Seeking clarification on the remark Volt-themed blog interviewed Mr. Nysschen.

In the interview Mr. Nysschen comments, "I don’t think the Volt is a car for idiots."

He says the journalists misinterpreted his comments, and that what he really meant was that he felt the Volt was "an idiotic business case."  However, from there his comments go south as he begins insulting the now-profitable Tesla.  He states, "We might as well have been taking about the Tesla.  I am not an enemy of the (Volt) concept."

He hints that he believes buyers of EVs to be foolish, remarking that they "cannot amortize their incremental fixed investment in the cost of the car to the savings in fuel consumptions."  He is careful to call the business plan, though, not the buyers, "idiotic".  He also opines that the environmental benefits of EVs are debatable. 

He states that he "cares very, very deeply about the planet, what we are doing to it and how our activities of today are shaping tomorrow."  He says he is "astonished" by the "misconceptions" he says that lawmakers and buyers hold that plug-in EVs are emissions free.  He refers to CARB report that claims that well to wheel emissions in the U.S. with plug-ins are higher than diesel vehicles as their electricity comes largely from coal plants.  The interviewer asked if he had read the EPRI-NRDC study from 2007 that showed that EVs feature less net emissions than gas vehicles.  He said that he was "not familiar with that study."

He calls corn ethanol an "outrage", though he says cellulosic ethanol is a good idea.  He also says that diesel is the best option, though he admitted that it didn't eliminate the U.S.'s dependence on unstable foreign sources.

Wrapping up, he admits, "I have never obviously driven a Volt.  [But I have] always looked at the car with great interest."

Still he is willing to judge the vehicle, stating, "Its not a premium car feel, but it’s got a premium car price."

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