Clean Transport

Published on June 12th, 2013 | by Nicholas Brown


Bob Lutz: “Electric Car Future Definitely Coming” (Video)

June 12th, 2013 by  

Bob Lutz was recently interviewed on CNBC’s “Squawk On The Street” program about Tesla Motors and the electric vehicle industry. As always, he had some interesting things to say. (Video at bottom of page, after commentary.)

Bob Lutz interview. Image Credit: Snapshot from

Bob Lutz interview.
Image Credit: Snapshot from

During the interview, he mentioned the importance of range and range anxiety, and made a great point similar to what I have been making for a while now:

If you can charge an electric car in 15 to 20 minutes. At that point, who needs a gasoline engine?

My point was that charge time is just as (if not more important) to people than range itself, because as long as the battery can charge quickly (~5-15 minutes) whenever needed, the driver can keep recharging and continue driving as long as they want.

Lutz also made a misleading statement, which was that Tesla Motors “simply crammed” more batteries into their cars to achieve long range, basically just making its cars very expensive.

The Tesla Model S has the longest range of all electric cars on the market, and its batteries occupy the least interior space of all electric cars — even compared to cars which have shorter range. This alone indicates that Tesla Motors has innovated significantly.

Furthermore, the Model S has a design specifically aimed at increasing the efficiency of the car.

To put it lightly, Lutz shouldn’t make statements about things he either doesn’t know or that are intentionally misleading. There’s a reason the Model S has won just about every major car award out there.

The interviewer asked why the big three automakers haven’t gone after Elon Musk and Tesla Motors? Lutz said one possible reason is that they are not competing with each other.

They can’t be competing with each other, because Tesla Motors makes a completely different type and caliber of cars from the “big three” car manufacturers. Ford and GM both offer electrically propelled vehicles, but they are lower cost models intended for the masses — much lower end than the Tesla vehicles. Tesla Motors has been manufacturing exclusively high-end cars. Therefore, it competes with luxury brands (to some extent).

Apart from that. Tesla Motors is a tiny company. General Motors is established. Tiny companies are not threatening to big ones.

Anyway, here’s the full interview with Lutz:

Check out our new 93-page EV report, based on over 2,000 surveys collected from EV drivers in 49 of 50 US states, 26 European countries, and 9 Canadian provinces.

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About the Author

writes on CleanTechnica, Gas2, Kleef&Co, and Green Building Elements. He has a keen interest in physics-intensive topics such as electricity generation, refrigeration and air conditioning technology, energy storage, and geography. His website is:

  • Ivor O’Connor

    “Lutz also
    made a misleading statement, which was that Tesla Motors “simply
    crammed” more batteries into their cars to achieve long range, basically
    just making its cars very expensive.”

    There’s nothing wrong with this statement. Tesla has crammed more batteries in their cars to achieve long range and in the process made their cars very expensive. It’s true and you just make things worse by trying to denying it. It is also true Tesla has gone to extremes in other ways to achieve long distance. (Can you say no spare tire?) Lutz would love to achieve success but he chose wrong in many ways. Elon almost always gets it right. And when Elon is ready he’ll introduce a car that competes with the Leaf in its price range. With a huge infrastructure and will win awards from everybody again. When this happens it won’t be the Tesla cars that get raked up and discarded…

  • josetony

    The prices for Ev”s are slowly becoming more attractive for consumers. Nissan Leaf is around $5,000 cheaper since the company move the assembly plant to the US. The GM Volt is getting around $4,000 discount in price. The Fiat EV , Mitsubishi I Miev and the Honda Fit EV are offering good deals on leases lately. So as soon as we get batteries that can be charged faster, the gas engines car sales are going to stop growing.

  • Marion Meads

    the electric car dream would again be dashed to pieces if the oil companies are able to succeed over the protesting environmentalists in fracking the California Shale to produce shale oil. The shale oil is more massive than the entire middle east reserves and easier to extract than the Bakken Shale because this one is mostly sitting vertically, thanks to the tectonic plate actions. The oil industry could then play the trump card of lowering gasoline prices down which would become a big setback for EV’s adoption.

    Existing desolate lands with old oil pumps are sitting atop the biggest shale reserves, and fracking for them in the same place should not create more desolate landscape. Well so far, the environmentalists are lobbying hard and are able to hold off the BLM auction of new land leases atop the shale formation…

    • Ross

      North Dakota has the highest gas prices in the US so lower prices doesn’t inevitably follow from more dirty global warming causing tragedy of the commons fossil fuels.

      With the price of charging EVs already very favourable compared to the price of gas it will take a lot more than a few dirty oil fields to set back the EV. When the prices of the EVs come down a bit more over the coming decade it will be game over for ICE vehicles.

    • Bob_Wallace

      You must be assuming that shale oil can be brought to the surface and refined for about 1/3rd the cost of other oil sources.

      It’s not the amount of oil in the ground, it’s the cost of getting that oil extracted, turned into fuel, and distributed.

      An EV uses about 0.3 kWh per mile. At the US average price of electricity that’s roughly 3 cents per mile. ($0.11 x 0.3 kWh)

      A 50 MPG hybrid would need to find fuel at $1.50/gallon to drive as cheaply. Actually less than $1.50 when you factor in higher maintenance costs for ICEVs.

    • Marion Meads

      Let us hope that the oil industry never gets to play the gasoline price game that could kill the EV’s.

      • Bob_Wallace

        What is the game they could play, Marion?

  • jamest2

    Why does anybody listen to Bob Lutz about electric cars? His only credential is to have cost GM billions to develop a car that has never come close to fulfilling its commercial expectations.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Perhaps you need to review Lutz’s career in the auto industry.

      As for the Volt never coming close to fulfilling its commercial expectation, patience Grasshopper. Major technological changes generally do not catch on overnight.

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