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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 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.


"If you look at the last five years, if you look at what major innovations have occurred in computing technology, every single one of them came from AMD. Not a single innovation came from Intel." -- AMD CEO Hector Ruiz in 2007














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