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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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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 (blog) 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 (blog) 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
quote:
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 (blog) 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

http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/noframes/31315.shtm...
http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/noframes/31377.shtm...

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.


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