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Bob Lutz
Bob Lutz and his pals tout the benefits of domestic oil production, electric vehicles

The last time we visited commentary from former General Motors Vice Chairman Bob Lutz, he was firing back against the "Right-Wing Media" for its assault on the Chevrolet Volt. Lutz was a huge proponent of the Volt while at GM, and he helped spearhead the development of the gasoline/plug-in electric vehicle.
Now, in another column for Forbes magazine (written in conjunction with FedEx CEO Fredrick Smith, and U.S. Marines commandants General P.X. Kelley and General James Conway), Lutz is switching gears slightly to tout the positive benefits of oil independence and electric vehicles instead of attacking the "attackers".
Lutz and his posse argue that moving to vehicles that are more efficient or rely solely on electricity for power will boost the United States' national security. In addition, U.S. military manpower and financial resources are being strained to protect vital oil distribution points around the globe.
From a national security perspective, the U.S. military is forced to protect the world’s vital oil infrastructure… Protection of the sea lanes of commerce has become an American burden and will remain so, costing the United States Treasury an estimated $80 billion per year while taxing our military, which is already engaged on multiple fronts.
“Lutz and Friends” go on to say that the U.S. needs to produce more oil domestically (to isolate the country from global oil price spikes) while at the same time moving the U.S. transportation sector away from oil dependency. "The only way to fundamentally solve this problem is to break oil’s stranglehold on the transportation sector, which accounts for 70 percent of the total oil consumed by the United States and relies on oil for 94 percent of its fuel," states the quartet.
As we reported nearly a year ago, Frederick Smith is definitely onboard with reducing our “addition” to foreign oil in an effort to boost the domestic economy. And like Lutz, Smith is hip to the idea of electrifying America’s transportation sector.

Chevrolet Volt enjoying a dip in the pool with the ladies. [Source: TECHVEHI]
Not surprisingly, the column throws a shout-out to the two primary players in the electric car market: the Chevrolet Volt and the Nissan Leaf:
Regarding electrification, the beauty of plug-in hybrids and pure electric vehicles like the Chevy Volt and the Nissan Leaf is that they are powered by electricity, which can be generated from many sources: nuclear, coal, natural gas, and renewables. Best yet, these are all domestic energy sources, meaning OPEC won’t be able to corner the market. And the retail price of electricity is far less volatile that the price of oil.
It seems inevitable that electrification will by the end game for vehicles in the future, but the question is should the government be footing the bill to jumpstart the process?

Source: Forbes

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By DockScience on 4/17/2012 6:46:32 PM , Rating: -1
The Volt gets 35 miles on batteries before needing an overnight charge.

The Cruze ECO (the gas only "Volt") gets 42 mpg.

The Volt can save less than 1 gallon of gas between charges.
All for $20000 MORE than the ECO.

And Lutz thinks that a right wing conspiracy is behind the Volt's lack of sales.

RE: pathetic
By Keeir on 4/17/2012 7:13:17 PM , Rating: 3
The Volt gets 35 miles Combined Cycle on Batteries before requiring a ~10 kWh charge. Depending on the charging methods available, this can between a 3-10 hour charge.

The Cruze Eco MANUAL (You know the transmission type than more than 90% of US shopper pay to avoid) get 33 MPG combined cycle. The Automatic version gets 31 MPG combined cycle.

The Volt saves on average ~2-3 dollars a day if you charge once a day and drive more than 30 miles.

The feature set (including nearly silent operation in EV mode) is different between the Cruze and the Volt. The feature set probably doesn't justify the increase in MSRP to most people... but to pretend it doesn't exist is equally as strange as insisting it must appeal to all.

RE: pathetic
By sigmatau on 4/17/2012 8:24:25 PM , Rating: 1
The Volt is definetly not a Cruze. Its closest non-electric non-hybrid relative is the new smaller Cadillac that isn't out yet. I just wish it had a more potent battery.

RE: pathetic
By Brandon Hill on 4/17/2012 8:28:31 PM , Rating: 2
The Volt is built on a modified Cruze platform to save costs. The wheelbase of the two is also identical.

RE: pathetic
By Keeir on 4/17/2012 8:46:54 PM , Rating: 1
While true, thats a little like saying the Honda Accord is the "same" car as the Acura TSX. There are lots of differences inside and out that makes the Volt a "different" car than a Cruze. Comparing the Volt to the price of a base Eco Cruze is just a stupid comparison point.

Lets see... a partial List Bold means not an option, Italics means an option (Eco --> Volt)
4 Wheel Disk
Heated Mirrors
Fog Lamps
Automatic Climate Control
Autodimming rearview mirror
Illuminated Vanity mirror
Key Less Start
Remote Start

Now, maybe you value these features at nearly zero, but there are 10s if not 100s of these features.

The Volt is much more similiar to a ~25,000 Cruze LTZ than the 20,000 Cruze Eco. Quite frankly the "market" price of Volt's features as a Cruze would place is in the 24,000-27,000 MSRP category.

RE: pathetic
By Brandon Hill on 4/17/2012 9:01:16 PM , Rating: 4
I wasn't talking about features, I was talking about the actual structure basis of the vehicle and nothing more.

I didn't even mention price comparisons...

RE: pathetic
By Jedi2155 on 4/18/2012 1:39:03 AM , Rating: 2
Ride quality/vehicle dynamics is a pretty important metric for a vehicle that is not usually considered a feature.

In that regard, the two vehicles are in a different class entirely.

RE: pathetic
By JediJeb on 4/19/2012 6:27:21 PM , Rating: 2
But how much can they lower the price of the Volt if they offer it in the same option configuration as the Cruze Eco?

It is just priced too high to become a main stream vehicle, and main stream vehicles of this type are what is needed to begin to get us off foreign oil. Once the 50% of the population that don't pay much in taxes who would not even benefit from the current tax breaks on EVs can afford them then we will be on the right track.

RE: pathetic
By Keeir on 4/19/2012 8:57:12 PM , Rating: 2
But how much can they lower the price of the Volt if they offer it in the same option configuration as the Cruze Eco?

By ~4,000-6,000 I'd think. Especially if they switched out the interior and exterior changes.

You realize that the average car sold over 100,000 miles is going to cost 48,000 dollars right?

I'd define a mass market price as a fuel+capital cost under 45,000 then... which is right about where the Volt cost... BEFORE government rebate.

The Volt's affordable to a very large percentage of the new car market as it stands today. People are on average paying more for thier transporation.

Now, many people have difficutly percieving the true cost of the Volt versus the true cost of the car they are currently tooling around in or choosing to buy. I will be curious if the persistant gasoline prices above 4 dollars lead to another large month of Volt sales...

RE: pathetic
By rich876 on 4/17/2012 10:53:43 PM , Rating: 2
The Cruze Econ gets better MPG then what you stated. Get your facts straight.

RE: pathetic
By Brandon Hill on 4/17/2012 11:01:36 PM , Rating: 2
Uhh, he is absolutely correct. The manual version gets 33 mpg combined and the automatic version gets 31 mpg combined

Only going by the 40-ish mpg highway figure is misleading unless you spend 100% of the time driving at 55-65 mph. Most people will get closer to the combined rating in everyday driving.

RE: pathetic
By jfish222 on 4/17/2012 7:37:22 PM , Rating: 1
Wow, I've never jumped in on the these threads re. the electrification concept (to much trolling) but I can't let ignorance go unaddressed . . .

Up Front:
I don't own a volt (or hybrid) and until they reach the performance of my Sonata Turbo while providing a reasonable efficiency margin (based on my mood and gas prices) I will not be buying one (ie: They may have finally finished that Space elevator).

Reality Check:
The 35 mile range is marketed to the average US commuter of 16* miles each way or less.

Of course, survey respondents gave an avg, so lets say you fall close to 16 miles on the bell curve. Your cutting it damn close, so in a pinch you have the gas engine to fall back on. For the Volt to be worth the investment you should ideally fall a little further to the left of the curve (I, for one, don't always head straight home!).
Given that many Volt respondents report filling up once a month, this does work for some.** (Stat. provided from GM so take it for what its worth.)

Is there a market for this vehicle?

Is it a large market?
Based on sales projections of 10k/yr, no. But that was always expected***. The high price partly relates to its low volume (yes, yes, and the batteries, R&D, etc.)

Is the Volt a success?
No but there is potential. It was a multi-year development project where gas prices were projected to be over $4. The debut came during a down turn (slower global economy = less fuel demand)where prices were around <$3.50. Notice that sales increased in December when prices hit some psychologically relevant $4.00 mark.***

Argue all you want about whether or not the US should be funding alternative fuel initiatives or the auto-industry bailout.

But when you twist reality to meet your views you're just being . . . pathetic.




RE: pathetic
By toffty on 4/17/2012 7:38:33 PM , Rating: 2
You do realize that the Volt can go far past 35 miles between charges correct? It can run on gas like all other ICE cars; the Volt just has the option of using only electricity if you drive less than 35 miles in the day.

RE: pathetic
By RDO CA on 4/17/2012 7:45:43 PM , Rating: 1
Lets see here --last year I put on 5000miles on my Volt and used 2.4 gal of gas. I regularly got 40-42 miles per charge and up to 51. I don't use enough gas to know but reports are about 40mpg on gas after the charge is depleated.
If you don't get it that new hi tec products cost early adoptors some extra cash than you have not been paying attention. My Fuel cost last year was 4.9 cents per mile.
I'm doing my small part to keep our country from importing as much oil.
This car is good looking and has alot of torque and goes over 100mph as I can testify.
We all want it to be the price of a Curze but thats not in the cards quite yet.
Have you driven one yet --I think you will be impressed. But why be down on the Volt as many can afford it and they either buy a Volt or another lux car.

RE: pathetic
By Brandon Hill on 4/17/2012 8:01:41 PM , Rating: 1
For comparison, I drive a 2011 Sonata SE 2.0t that's rated at 22/33/26 (city/highway/combined). My breakdown after 21,449 miles:

25.82 mpg average
$2,782.99 in fuel

RE: pathetic
By Jeffk464 on 4/18/2012 12:51:47 PM , Rating: 2
I drive a toyota tacoma, so no breakdown. :)

RE: pathetic
By Reclaimer77 on 4/17/12, Rating: -1
RE: pathetic
By Spuke on 4/17/12, Rating: 0
RE: pathetic
By Masospaghetti on 4/18/2012 9:11:06 AM , Rating: 2
One persons drastic reduction of gasoline usage (you still use oil you know) doesn't do a damn thing to reduce national oil usage.

You're acknowledging that the Volt drastically reduces oil consumption...and then you say that he's only making himself feel good and not doing a damn, because he's only one person.

Your logic is mind boggling.

RE: pathetic
By Spuke on 4/18/2012 1:17:18 PM , Rating: 3
Your logic is mind boggling.
Explain how ONE persons reduction in fuel makes any difference to the NATIONAL reduction in fuel other than making ONESELF feel good.

RE: pathetic
By Spuke on 4/18/2012 1:20:22 PM , Rating: 2
Oh and I didn't say the Volt drastically reduced fuel consumption, I said HE is. Not everyone's usage will be like his and even if it was, it STILL does not make a nick in the NATIONAL (there's that word again) fuel usage.

RE: pathetic
By Qapa on 4/22/2012 11:19:38 AM , Rating: 2
That is the same argument most people use not to vote: "why should I vote, my vote will only weight 1 in millions, and so it is irrelevant".

While true, it also points that the solution to any group problem, if you're not making decisions for the group, is to make your part and possibly try to influence the individuals around you.

So he actually did the most important part, specially because, there is no better way to convince people around you than showing them 1st hand that you're committed, happy with the solution and even have them try it out.

Maybe it is not a bad idea that you guys stop saying what other people's reasoning and reasons are. Post your opinion, but leave others to state theirs.

RE: pathetic
By yomamafor1 on 4/19/12, Rating: 0
RE: pathetic
By Dr of crap on 4/18/2012 8:32:38 AM , Rating: 2
MANY do not, and have not boughten the Volt.
The sales to not prove out YOUR comment.

Yes this car will appeal to a very small population. The problem is that the Volt gets billed as the saviour of our high gas usage. You alone will not save us very much in oil importing. Neither will the other Volt owners. It would take hundreds of thousands of Volts sold to have ANY impact.

Hey thanks for taking the tax break and using some of my tax dollars in your purchase. Me, I'll be buying a 3 year old car when I'm in the market for a car to replace my 2005 Malibu that gets 30-33 mpg combined in my daily driving habits, and it WONLDN'T cost me over $15,000, and there WON'T be any tax breaks with my purchase either!

AND for the record it will take many years of you NOT BUYING gas for the break even point on your over priced car, did you know that?

RE: pathetic
By Masospaghetti on 4/18/2012 9:22:01 AM , Rating: 2
Yes this car will appeal to a very small population. The problem is that the Volt gets billed as the saviour of our high gas usage. You alone will not save us very much in oil importing. Neither will the other Volt owners. It would take hundreds of thousands of Volts sold to have ANY impact.

The Volt reduces fuel usage by a factor of 2x-3x with essentially no compromises. What other technology can do that? CNG is probably the closest, but even it has severe infrastructure limitations and generally poor performance.

While it's great your Malibu gets 30-33 mpg combined, your combined cycle rating is still 25 mpg (if you have the four cylinder) and even less with the V6. A lot worse than the Volt, even on pure gasoline power.

You're trying to compare buying a new Volt with buying a used economy car. If people bought cars for economic reasons only, everyone would be driving 10 year old Honda Civics. Obviously there's more to a car purchase than that, and if you've driven a Volt, I think you'd realize it's a far nicer car than the $15k econoboxes its often compared against.

Even for the EV haters...think of it this way...I'd rather those who use cars as transportation only to have EVs and hybrids because that reduces oil demand and lowers prices for the rest of us, who love to drive with our American pushrod V8 engines.

RE: pathetic
By Dr of crap on 4/18/2012 10:20:52 AM , Rating: 2
I said I get 30-33 mpg COMBINED in my comute, don't tell me what I'm getting.

I'm saying the Volt is not for me, I can't afford it. As a lot cannot afford it. I am not a hater, I'm a realist. The Volt, as I said, will appeal to a small population.

IF YOU ONLY use battery power you will save gas, but it's the fact that it only goes a few miles on battery power, then the mpg is comperable to what I get with my old car. And for me, I drive over 60 miles per day, so the VOLT really does no good for me, and a lot others that have a long commute. And the fact that it's a high price. Like I said I can get a car like I have now for les than $15,000. Meaning for the $40,000 plus you've paid for the Volt I can get 2 cars and have cash in my pocket for gas.

While I do not dispute the fact that the Volt is a good car, I don't want it. What good would it do for me to drive it, when I couldn't buy it? Why can't Volt lovers see that side of it? Same as a Lexus or BMW that are priced at $40,000 plus, I can't buy one.

RE: pathetic
By Masospaghetti on 4/18/2012 10:43:38 AM , Rating: 3
The only thing I'm disputing is that the Volt won't save you a lot of fuel, because it will.

I said I get 30-33 mpg COMBINED in my comute(sic), don't tell me what I'm getting.

Why does this always need to be explained? If you beat the EPA numbers in your Malibu, you should beat the EPA numbers by the same amount in a Volt. The Volt's EPA numbers, even without batteries, are a lot better than your Malibu's.

What good would it do for me to drive it, when I couldn't buy it?

Because the Volt is compared against cars that are far inferior in performance, NVH, and ride quality and then blasted because its too expensive. It's like comparing a Lexus to a Toyota and saying the Lexus costs too much.

RE: pathetic
By Dr of crap on 4/18/2012 12:38:52 PM , Rating: 1
You don't get it.
I do not dispute that the Volt is set up to be in the luxury catagory. And so it is high priced.
The mpg of the Volt WHEN the battery is used up and running on gas is AROUND 35mpg if I remember correctly, so it ABOUT the same as my "old" car. I don't care what the EPA numbers are at and will not get into fight over a few mpgs.

The problem I have is the statements that this car will SAVE US THE AGONY OF IMPORTED OIL. It will not by it's own. It can go on many days of battery power if used only a small bit each day, I agree. AND IF you can AFFORD it you can save gas. The big thing is IF YOU CAN AFFORD it. The same as if you can afford a Luxus, BMW, Mercedes, ect...

As I stated it will have a small population that can and will benefit from it. But for the typical mass commute person, it will not help and is out of reach.

If GM just came out and said they have this hybrid and left it at that, I'd have, and most other haters would, not have problem with the car. That fact that it's billed as the revolutionary car that will save the planet is the problem!

RE: pathetic
By Keeir on 4/18/2012 8:40:09 PM , Rating: 3
The mpg of the Volt WHEN the battery is used up and running on gas is AROUND 35mpg if I remember correctly, so it ABOUT the same as my "old" car. I don't care what the EPA numbers are at and will not get into fight over a few mpgs.

So.... you don't care about the EPA numbers... except when it comes to the Volt? The Volt gets 25-40% better MPG than your old car. That's fairly significant. But the Volt is not a Malibu sized car either.

The problem I have is the statements that this car will SAVE US THE AGONY OF IMPORTED OIL.

And that's the problem of your reading comprehension. The TECHNOLOGY could do alot to save us from "Agony" of Imported Oil. If Volt technology suddenly appears in every car and pickup truck tomorrow, the US would from importing ~100 Billion Gallons of Gasoline/Oil yearly to having the ability to export ~50+ Billion Gallons of Gasoline/Oil yearly. All without giving up car size, performance characteristics, flexiblity in fueling, etc, etc, etc. In the long run, people would even be spending -less- on thier transportation. (The short run costs would be very very high granted).

Again, this car is essentially a 30 MPG typical gasoline car. Typically driver would use ~450 gallons of gas a year (at ~30 MPG). A diesel driver would use ~384 gallons of diesel a year. A Prius driver would use 270 gallons of gas a year. A Volt driver? Most drivers would use -90- gallons of gas a year.

So in recap if we switched to 100% Diesel, we'd reduce Oil usage by ~15% and cut imports ~33%. If we used Hybrids we'd cut usage by ~40% and cut imports 90%. If we used PHEV 35 we'd cut usage by 80% and cut imports to -60% (I am using 2010 data from the EIA).

In comparison to the Alternatives place on the market before the PHEV-35 technology promises (if widely adopted) a level of reduction of oil importation surpassed only by pure EV, Natural Gas Combustion, or Hydrogen Fuel cell. The PHEV-35 technology also addressed the principles weaknesses of these technologies such as Limited Range and non-existant infrastructure.

If the goal is to reduce oil importation without sacrificing size and usage habits, PHEV is almost magnitudes better than a existing Hybrids. (The goal of reducing total pollution, energy usage, and C02 emissions are slightly different and more complex, but PHEV is generally winning there are well)

RE: pathetic
By Dr of crap on 4/19/2012 9:56:41 AM , Rating: 1
Missed the point AGAIN!

RE: pathetic
By skeansmith on 4/18/12, Rating: 0
RE: pathetic
By Spuke on 4/18/2012 1:31:46 PM , Rating: 2
Thanks for doing your part. Not sure why people want to flame you for telling it like it is.
I don't think he's a scab BUT he's not doing anything to affect overall fuel reduction in the US. If WE want to REALLY make a difference, WE need to convince everyone we know to reduce fuel. IMO, gas prices would do it BUT we'll have to see if that really will do it.

RE: pathetic
By skeansmith on 4/18/2012 1:45:08 PM , Rating: 2
I have looked at your replies on this tread and I do not think there is any way for me to convince you that if one person does their part it has an impact on the whole. Baffling to me. With that logic nobody should do their part until it is agreed that all will do their part. From a practical point of view, with that in mind, nothing would ever move forward!

RE: pathetic
By topkill on 4/23/2012 10:55:44 PM , Rating: 1
"DockScience"??? Is that like calling a really big guy "tiny" as a joke nickname? Because you're to F'ing stupid to be using that science moniker.

You don't even know how the Volt works so learn something or first or STFU.

"Well, there may be a reason why they call them 'Mac' trucks! Windows machines will not be trucks." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer

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