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  (Source: Hybrid Cars)

Bob Lutz is a legend among auto enthusiasts  (Source: Patrick Arena/The Car Lounge)
Lutz may be back if things go sour

Questions regarding price and whether the Chevy Volt will be sold, leased, or both have remained unanswered until now. While the price is still up in the air, GM has announced that the Volt will be available for sale and for lease, and the once-again newly retired GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz could not be more excited for the November 2010 release date. 

"I love it. I just absolutely love it," said Lutz. "I think it's a great car to drive. I'm personally going to get myself on the list for one, no question about it. No question that I think it's the greatest achievement of my career."

Lutz, 78, has been in the automotive business for 47 years, nine of which were spent with GM. He is a former Marine fighter pilot who has worked as an executive at all three Detroit carmakers as well as BMW. He officially retired from GM on April 30 of this year, and had a final farewell party on Tuesday in Warren, Michigan where his wife, Denise, and several GM executives and employees were in attendance.

"I think this is the third time I've retired," said Lutz. "I think this time I can actually achieve it and not go back to work full time for anybody. 

"If I see things going wrong, there will be the ghost of Bob Lutz, and it ain't going to be friendly."

Lutz was praised as one of the largest reasons for GM's $865 million profit success after having to claim bankruptcy last year. Lutz was to retire late last year, but stayed on board to work with the creative aspects of GM's marketing, advertising and designs. 

"GM is in good shape coming out of Chapter 11 because of Bob Lutz," said Tom Stephens, vice chairman of global product development. "You taught us how important it was to listen-not only to other people, but to listen to your gut. In the automotive industry, that gut reaction is probably the most important reaction."

Lutz received two gifts at his retirement party, one being a replica of GM's Supercharged LS9 engine and the other a set of aluminum scale models, most notably the Chevrolet Volt Plug-in hybrid. Lutz has made the Volt the center of GM's campaign to become the industry's environmental leader. He has compared the Volt to President Kennedy's moon shot, saying it will be "sensational," and "will have the same sort of symbolism."

"I don't think it would be a vast overstatement to say the Volt is in many ways symbolic of a renaissance in the American auto industry," said Lutz. "If we pull it off successfully, it can really put us back at the top of the heap of automotive technology instead of being called laggards that are being left behind by the Germans and the Japanese."

The 2011 Chevrolet Volt will carry a 40 mile all-electric range and on-board range-extending gasoline engine. While such new innovations will likely make some buyers skeptical, GM expects the Volt to be well-accepted by the public. Now, we wait for some purchase figures.

 



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RE: Wrong Mr Lutz
By GreenEnvt on 5/20/2010 1:03:05 PM , Rating: 2
I disagree with the not new technology.
All other mainstream hybrids to date have had the gas engine supply power directly to the wheels, with electric motors assisting.

The Volt is moved purely by electric motors. The gas motor is simply a generator, used to power the motors and/or charge the battery. There is no physical link between the gas motor and the wheels.

I like this system, because it basically means that a couple generations down the road, we could have a system where you cans swap out the generator with newer technologies. So you buy one with a gas generator, then a couple years later switch it out with a diesel, then a couple years later with a fuel cell. 20 years later, maybe a mr fusion :)


RE: Wrong Mr Lutz
By AEvangel on 5/20/2010 2:28:27 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
I disagree with the not new technology.


Then you would be wrong....look up the EV1. A fully electric car actually manufactured by the same company and wildly successful. Also most of the early automobiles made were fully electric. The idea is not new by any standard, it has just been updated with new tech.

The only reason we still have these ignorant gas/hybrid cars is due to the simple fact that a purely electric car is not profitable to the manufactures or dealers since the cost or repairs or maintenance is non-existent.


RE: Wrong Mr Lutz
By jimbojimbo on 5/20/2010 3:14:31 PM , Rating: 2
No, you would be wrong. You think the Volt isn't a new idea because the EV1 existed? Where's the gasoline engine in the EV1? Can you take the EV1 cross country without having to stop overnight every now and then? The Volt manages to make an electric car with basically a gasoline generator to give it reserve power so that it can still maintain its ability to drive long distances and refuel quickly. Most people drive shorter distances so essentially most of the time it would be an electric car but it's nice to know you can go further.


RE: Wrong Mr Lutz
By AEvangel on 5/20/2010 3:49:13 PM , Rating: 2
There has been purely electric vehicles and Hybrid vehicles, both Prior to the Volt. Like I said the Technology is not new something anyone with half a brain could figure out.


RE: Wrong Mr Lutz
By thurston on 5/20/2010 6:44:44 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Can you take the EV1 cross country without having to stop overnight every now and then?


I don't know of any automobile that can drive cross-country without refueling.


RE: Wrong Mr Lutz
By AEvangel on 5/20/2010 7:51:51 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I don't know of any automobile that can drive cross-country without refueling.


Actually this car possibly could and it was built in 1979.

According to David, the Opel has not only a virtually unlimited range (when driven prudently), but also a top speed of 90 miles per hour ... and emits a minimum of pollutants as it tools along the highway. Better yet, the car can-if need be-run on its batteries alone for short in-town hops ... and will never be "stranded" as long as there's fuel in the "on board" generator!


RE: Wrong Mr Lutz
By monkeyman1140 on 5/21/2010 1:37:48 AM , Rating: 2
I saw that article. It was just a converted opel with lead-acid batteries and an electric jet engine starter motor.
The main problem was that you had to park the car while the generator charged the batteries. It wasn't a true hybrid, but it was a nice amateur effort back in the 1970s.


RE: Wrong Mr Lutz
By chick0n on 5/21/2010 1:30:48 AM , Rating: 1
That simply means you don't know shit about any places other than the US-fuxking-A.


RE: Wrong Mr Lutz
By monkeyman1140 on 5/21/2010 1:26:10 AM , Rating: 2
Very true. Think about it. No 3000 mile oil changes, no coolant flushes needed, no air or oil filters, no PCV valves, no emission control systems, no fuel pump, no valve adjustment, no spark plugs, no ignition system, no exhaust system, no catalytic converter.

O'Reilly Auto and Autozone would go out of business, not to mention dealerships would have to screw customers out of money some other way, perhaps through fake "electric motor tuning service intervals".


RE: Wrong Mr Lutz
By callmeroy on 5/21/2010 2:06:45 PM , Rating: 2
There's still moving parts in an electric car right?

Any moving part is not only going to have an eventual failure point but is also going to need lubrication of some sort -- unless parts in electric vehicles don't succumb to the forces of friction.

But that's not the main point I wanted to make.....there will still be a vehicle service industry in the future its just going to evolve to look more like a computer or electrical parts store more than a modern day mechanics supply store.

In other words there will definitely be points of failure and things to service in an all electic vehicle "country"....it'll just be mostly computers and electronics more than gears/fears/transmissions....


RE: Wrong Mr Lutz
By callmeroy on 5/21/2010 2:08:30 PM , Rating: 2
"gears *FEARS* transmissions".....

yeah *I* don't even know what that typo was SUPPOSED to be...

Hey its Friday...gimme a break!


RE: Wrong Mr Lutz
By JediJeb on 5/20/2010 3:18:00 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The only reason we still have these ignorant gas/hybrid cars is due to the simple fact that a purely electric car is not profitable to the manufactures or dealers since the cost or repairs or maintenance is non-existent.


Electric motors break, just ask any place that has a fleet of electric forklifts. Also purely electric cars are worthless to anyone who needs to travel long distances or carry more load than a couple people. Batteries just can't hold enough power in a small/light enough package to do the job of more than urban commuting. The only way you could replace an internal combustion engine for most work would be to invent a milk crate sized nuclear reactor that was safe and tamperproof, and get everyone to regard them as safe.

It will be a long time before purely electric vehicles will be the norm.


RE: Wrong Mr Lutz
By AEvangel on 5/20/2010 3:57:52 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
Electric motors break, just ask any place that has a fleet of electric forklifts.


Yes, they do but much less then combustion motors, also the fact is that you don't have oil changes or tune ups to contend with. The cost of maintenance is much less on electric vehicles.

quote:
Also purely electric cars are worthless to anyone who needs to travel long distances or carry more load than a couple people.


The NiMH EV1 had an EPA certified range of 140 miles on a charge; not to mention since like 80% of Americans drive less then 40 miles per day I think it would be fine.

quote:
Batteries just can't hold enough power in a small/light enough package to do the job of more than urban commuting. The only way you could replace an internal combustion engine for most work would be to invent a milk crate sized nuclear reactor that was safe and tamperproof, and get everyone to regard them as safe.


Did you even read what you wrote...wow...do a little research first since there is like several ALL ELECTRIC vehicles already produced in the world, including delivery trucks and all of them working just fine.


RE: Wrong Mr Lutz
By knutjb on 5/20/2010 8:02:06 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The NiMH EV1 had an EPA certified range of 140 miles on a charge; not to mention since like 80% of Americans drive less then 40 miles per day I think it would be fine.


My Dad was involved in clean vehicles programs for cities and had an EV1 for a couple days. It barely made a thirty mile round trip on a warm day and took too long to recharge to be useful for most consumers. That 140 mile rating was under optimal conditions, get on the highway, need heat, AC, or think about rolling down the windows and you slash the EV1s useful range significantly.

Cars have to be more flexible than just the "average" driver needs. EVs don't do well in temperature extremes either. The power grid is woefully lacking in most of the country, i.e. California's summer brown outs... If it can't replace the internal combustion car's flexibility it needs to go back to the drawing board.


RE: Wrong Mr Lutz
By monkeyman1140 on 5/21/2010 1:18:40 AM , Rating: 1
Actually EV's do fine in extreme weather. The batteries have temperature controlled systems, electric motors can operate in bitter cold or sweltering heat.

Fuel cell cars however, are horrible. Their range is even more limited than batteries, the fuel cell is ridiculously expensive, and refueling is dangerous and complex.

This is why the oil companies goaded the government into supporting fuel cell cars. They know that they will never EVER be practical, so it keeps oil in business for the next 100 years.


RE: Wrong Mr Lutz
By monkeyman1140 on 5/21/2010 1:29:29 AM , Rating: 1
I'm sure he had the first generation EV1 with the flawed lead acid batteries. Its no accident GM put in defective batteries the first time around. When the NiMh packs were installed, GM was really worried about dramatic range improvement, and killed the program soon afterwards, fearing the EV1 would nuke the rest of their product line.

Its a shame, if they had gone ahead they would have blown the japanese out of the water and would be the #1 seller of electric cars now, and most likely not have gone bankrupt and owned by the government.

Sucks when Michael Moore is right eh?


RE: Wrong Mr Lutz
By knutjb on 5/21/2010 4:35:25 AM , Rating: 2
Your sure of something you have no idea about, genius. The car had NiMH, it was near the end of the program. You need to stop smoking so much michael moore.

Why do you think the EV1 had a small passenger compartment, less air to heat and cool.

NiMH batteries can be damaged in temps above 105. The AC sucks a lot of juice. Ever lived in the desert?

Heaters are electric and batteries put out less voltage in very low temps, greatly reducing range. Ever lived in the mid-west?

The grid isn't capable of handling a nationwide conversion. Again brown outs in LA already where do you think you'll get the sparks in summer to charge your car? Well you need to install charging stations first. And don't forget running the lights at night...

The batteries create large amounts of pollution to manufacture and recycle. EVs are sort of clean in operation, depends on where the power is generated.

The EV1 was only leased, along with all the other EVs in Michael Moore's misleading movie. They were leased because they were non-standard prototype vehicles allowed on the road using a loop hole in the law. Which is why they were destroyed afterward, blame the lawyers.

EVs aren't even close to perfect, hence hybrids. There are some areas where EVs can work well and I think Ford's electric delivery van might just find its way into that market.

I'm not against them, just realistic on their current practicality.

Cradle to grave the Honda Civic Natural Gas model produces less pollution than a Toyota Hybrid. NG is 120 octane allowing for high compression ratios, i.e. lots of torque. The engines will outlast the rest of the car on NG because it burns cooler and doesn't wash the oil of the cylinder walls. We have huge, 250 years worth, of untapped NG reserves in the US.


RE: Wrong Mr Lutz
By AEvangel on 5/21/2010 9:54:21 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
he grid isn't capable of handling a nationwide conversion.


Actually they charge at night when electricity was plentiful.

quote:
Cradle to grave the Honda Civic Natural Gas model produces less pollution than a Toyota Hybrid.


I agree NG is a much better solution right now then ANY Hybrid, they could convert almost all fleet and commercial vehicles over to it and completely free this country from our dependence on foreign oil.


RE: Wrong Mr Lutz
By knutjb on 5/21/2010 2:39:24 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Actually they charge at night when electricity was plentiful.

During the summer in mostly large cities where you are likely to have more people, hence more plug-ins, and temps hit and stay above 80 at night the grid is still stressed. It doesn't happen for the entire summer but it will negatively impact night time charging.

What if you work a night job and have to charge during the day or drive to work and plug-in? I know, the smart grid will save us from insufficient infrastructure and from ourselves!? Yeah Big Government!


RE: Wrong Mr Lutz
By namechamps on 5/24/2010 1:17:42 PM , Rating: 2
Not it isn't.

At night even when it is "hot" the grid is well below peak capacity.

Think about it. The same grid that managed all the AC running at noon (when temp is 100 deg+) somehow is maxed out at night when temp is 20 degrees lower?

There is a massive amount of reserve (wasted) capacity at night.

If you work a nightjob then maybe an EV isn't the right vehicle for you. Just because something doesn't work for 100% of the population doesn't mean it is useless.

If EV could replaces millions of vehicle if we just start with low hanging fruit.

Multi-car household, with personal driveway and/or garage, with mostly urban/suburban driving, and at least one person in household works a 1st shift job.

How many millions of cars do you think fit in that "optimal" category?


RE: Wrong Mr Lutz
By tallguywithglasseson on 5/26/2010 2:35:46 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Sucks when Michael Moore is right eh?
Would just like to point out that Who Killed The Electric Car? was written and produced by Chris Paine, not Michael Moore.

Unless you're referring to "Roger and Me", in which case I don't think I follow your point.


RE: Wrong Mr Lutz
By JediJeb on 5/21/2010 10:16:18 AM , Rating: 2
Can those delivery trucks run 200 or more miles on a charge while moving tons of cargo? Most of the US is not in the big cities, it is spread out with lots of space in between stops. As I said before EVs would work in an urban area, where the average daily travel would be 100 miles or less. My first job I had to drive 105 miles one way, and I know many people who do that still.

Also most people can do things like change oil and air filters. Other things like flush radiators and change plugs are only done on the 100k maintenance cycles now. There would not be that much difference in maintenance of a regular gasoline car and an EV. Besides what would be safer someone changing their own water pump or someone trying to fix a broken electric motor? EVs would turn into more of a dealer repair item than most normal cars are today.


RE: Wrong Mr Lutz
By JustTom on 5/24/2010 12:00:07 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The NiMH EV1 had an EPA certified range of 140 miles on a charge; not to mention since like 80% of Americans drive less then 40 miles per day I think it would be fine.


I am glad you think that it is fine. Let the market decide just maybe?

Round trip mileage to work is meaningless. Because people frequently travel to places other than work. If I go 10 miles to and from work does that mean I never travel 300+ miles on vacations or business? Of course it does not. Without the ability to rapidly recharge the batteries, whether through charging stations or a gasoline motor EVs are a mere niche product.


RE: Wrong Mr Lutz
By namechamps on 5/24/2010 1:19:41 PM , Rating: 2
In a two car household how would that be a problem.
One EV to cut down on fuel costs, one conventional vehicle for long range travel.

How many times do you think a 2 car household needs both vehicles to go long distance to different locations at the same time?

Best of both worlds IMHO.


RE: Wrong Mr Lutz
By 91TTZ on 5/20/2010 3:41:23 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Then you would be wrong....look up the EV1. A fully electric car actually manufactured by the same company and wildly successful. Also most of the early automobiles made were fully electric. The idea is not new by any standard, it has just been updated with new tech. The only reason we still have these ignorant gas/hybrid cars is due to the simple fact that a purely electric car is not profitable to the manufactures or dealers since the cost or repairs or maintenance is non-existent.


How would you call it wildly successful? The EV1 program cost GM $1 billion and they leased less than 1000 cars. Also, they had to price the least at a point you'd expect for a $30k car, but it actually cost GM $80K-$100K.

Also, electric cars still break down. There are still moving parts that wear.


RE: Wrong Mr Lutz
By AEvangel on 5/20/2010 4:07:31 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
How would you call it wildly successful?


Actually I don't Mr. Lutz himself did. Lutz stated that the EV1 would cost too much to build. But in 1994, GM bought control of the NiMH batteries under guise of going into production, and, in 1996 and in 2000, famously claimed that it would have leased as many as people wanted, it was a "production vehicle". The batteries were not even that expensive. The EV1 came in two "flavors": one using advanced NiMH batteries, and the other using cheaper lead-acid batteries. With PSB EV-EC1260 lead batteries, this EV1 had a range over 100 miles on a charge. The cost of this off-the-shelf battery pack is no more than $4,800. The rest of the EV1 is just electronics and bent metal. As for Nickel, it's entirely recyclable; after the Nickel battery wears out, perhaps 200,000 miles, the only expense is melting it down and "reforming" it into a new battery, using all the old metals and components.

quote:
Also, electric cars still break down. There are still moving parts that wear.


Yes, but compared to a car with an internal combustion engine the cost is negligible, since electric have far fewer moving parts. No Oil Changes, no tune- ups, no air filter, all these things combined equals into millions of dollars of revenue for auto repair and manufactures.

I'm not an advocate of all electric vehicles, but I call it as I see it. The only reason we don't have more electric cars on the roads right now is because they are not as profitable as the internal combustion models we now drive.


RE: Wrong Mr Lutz
By monkeyman1140 on 5/21/2010 1:42:18 AM , Rating: 2
GM's blatant lie that nobody would but the car was laughable. It had strong support by a bunch of rich hollywood actors who could drop $1,000,000 on a car if they felt like it, and GM was claiming that they refused to buy it at $50,000 a pop. Meanwhile folks were buying the ridiculously expensive Hummer and not blinking an eye at its $80,000 pricetag.

The government even gave tax credits for Hummer purchases, but not for electric car purchases.

It was amazing how corrupt the GOP controlled congress was in the 1990s. They were nothing more than street whores for the oil industry.


RE: Wrong Mr Lutz
By monkeyman1140 on 5/21/2010 1:11:34 AM , Rating: 2
GM was given the $1 billion in research funds by the Clinton Administration which had a program for automakers to develop electric cars.
GM essentially got the develop the car for free. Electric cars are very reliable. The motor will last 100,000 miles before the brushes need replacement, about $100 and 15 minutes of work.

GM's claim that the car cost $100K each is a wild overstatement. They never produced the car in volume, thus the inflated price. They never intended to sell them, which is why they were leased with no option to buy.


RE: Wrong Mr Lutz
By GreenEnvt on 5/20/2010 4:10:33 PM , Rating: 2
Um, no, you are quite wrong. The EV1 was pure electric, which was great, but it's still very different from a electric car that has an onboard generator to extend the range.

I never said being all electric was new, I said the concept of an electric powertrain with a generator to extend the range was.


RE: Wrong Mr Lutz
By AEvangel on 5/20/2010 5:45:26 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I never said being all electric was new, I said the concept of an electric powertrain with a generator to extend the range was.


quote:
Ferdinand Porsche in 1900 developed the Lohner-Porsche Mixte Hybrid, the first gasoline-electric hybrid automobile in the world


Let's see Hybrids have been around for over a 100 years and your telling me that this is new since GM reversed it and let you use up all your battery first? Gimme a break, also keep in mind that Prius owners have been doing this themselves since 2004??

I do think the Volt is interesting but it by no means is a Technological breakthrough or revolutionary.


RE: Wrong Mr Lutz
By jbwhite99 on 5/20/2010 6:29:22 PM , Rating: 2
According to this documentary I saw, Mr. Fusion is supposed to be available in 2015! I also have this stainless steel car that flies!


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