Batteries lutz volt

Published on December 27th, 2015 | by James Ayre


Bob Lutz Thinks Chevy Bolt Will Lose GM Money

December 27th, 2015 by  

Originally published on EV Obsession.

The man widely credited as being the “father” of the Chevy Volt, Bob Lutz, was recently quoted as saying that he’d be “surprised and shocked” if the 2017 Chevy Bolt ended up being profitable, according to recent reports.

It should be noted here up front that Lutz no longer has access to GM’s internal financial figures, so he’s merely speculating. GM has previously stated that the Bolt would be profitable, and that it is paying LG Chem just $145 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for the battery cells that’ll be used in the all-electric (EV) Bolt.

2015 Chevrolet Bolt EV Concept all electric vehicle – front ex


“I no longer have access to General Motors figures, but I would be surprised and shocked if the 200-mile electric Bolt is going to make money,” stated Lutz (this was at an Automotive News roundtable back in August). “You look at the cost per kilowatt hour of batteries and the number of kilowatt hours they have got in there and then you look at the selling price. It’s just not going to work.”

The GM Volt website provides more:

His comments have gone largely unreported as they were part of an over 1.5-hour-long video on a subscription only industry site. The frank and revealing insiders’ discussion was between auto industry “superstars,” Bo Andersson, Arndt Ellinghorst, John Krafcik, Bob Lutz, Tim Manganello, and Andy Palmer.

…Agreement was voiced by others in the crosstalk, but Lutz made more strong statements about whole product lines being hurt by compliance cars, as automakers can look at plug-in hybrids and all-electric cars. Even if they are sold nationwide, these vehicles make up less than 0.75% of the US, market, and do not keep the lights on for major automakers burning through cash. On the other hand, trucks, SUVs and crossovers are where General Motors and other automakers make their most substantial profits.

With gas prices declining, automakers have been booking ever increasing sales for these types of vehicles while working on electrified cars because they must meet regulations. This, said Lutz, has cost everyone, even the truck buyers, as he blamed electrified vehicles that cost as much to develop as other vehicles, but make much fewer sales.

“I don’t know if anybody noticed, but full-size sport-utilities used to be — just a few years ago used to be $42,000, all in, fully equipped. You can’t touch a Chevy Tahoe for under about $65 (thousand) now,” he stated. “Yukons are in the $70 (thousands). The Escalade comfortably hits $100 (thousand). Three or four years ago they were about $60,000. What this is, is companies trying to recover what they’re losing at the other end with what I call compliance vehicles, which are Chevy Volts, Bolts, plug-in Cadillacs and fuel cell vehicles.”

So, essentially, what Lutz is doing is (partly) blaming electric vehicles for the rising prices of gas-powered SUVs, trucks, etc. Readers may disagree with me on this, but I’m very skeptical that that’s the root cause…

The solution to the issue, according to Lutz, is for multiple automakers to collectively work together on the creation of compliance cars — rather than front the development costs independently.

“Yeah,” stated Lutz, “Just do one fuel cell vehicle and have about 6 companies each participate in the architecture so that at least they might attain a volume of maybe 100,000, so that everybody can have their 5,000 or 6,000, which they’re going to need to comply with California.”

One fuel cell vehicle, huh?

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.

Tags: , , ,

About the Author

's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.

  • James

    Bob Lutz also thinks that Climate Change “is a croc” and bought a soon-to-be-flooded home in the Florida Keys.
    He also claims that the Falcon Wing doors on the Model X are a disaster when they are simply two additional rear lift doors that have been on passenger vans for decades.
    And to boot he fails to take into account that GM has no Supercharger network (and refuses to build one) and no Gigafactory (one cannot mass market EVs without batteries Bob)

  • Dag Johansen

    OF COURSE it will lose money initially. So did the Prius for years. So did Lutz’s baby the Chevy Volt. All brand new car designs lose money initially. It takes time to refine them, reduce costs, get up to mass manufacturing scale, and become more efficient at manufacturing them.

  • Otis11

    I have to question the assertion that the cost of vehicles are going up… Maybe for GM (I haven’t done the math fire them) but I know for a number of Ford cars, including the F150, if you get the same options the price has actually decreased in the last 10 years after factoring in inflation. Same with the Toyota tacoma. Sure, you can make it more expensive with options, but that’s because those options didn’t exist 10 years ago…

    Tl:dr – Lutz is misrepresenting stats to serve his own agenda. Big suprise.

  • UncleB

    America is world’s largest armaments dealer. Detroit City, long passed now, as both the monument to American ingenuity and the tombstone of American management of their once untouchable Automotive supremacy on earth.
    Electrics, not harmed by the temporary lower prices of gasoline, but due to innovative technologies will become the practical replacement of the piston engine era in the U.S.A. or the U.S.A. will lag behind other nations and starve trying to pay its oil bills.

  • John Smith

    Lutz is a putz….he is one of the reasons GM had to file for bankruptcy….

  • sjc_1

    Clutz was one of the execs who put GM into bankruptcy, he should just fade away.

  • kallen

    Detroit is such a bunch of unimaginative crybabies. They are no longer leaders but rather followers and bad ones at that.

  • ROBwithaB

    Bob Lutz has lost the plot.
    It happens once the star quarterback becomes old and irrelevant. Nobody wants to listen to his stories of the glory days anymore. Nobody cares.
    But he’s so used to being in the spotlight that he can’t stand to be ignored.
    And because he doesn’t have anything he can actually contribute anymore, he just sits there making pronouncements on the performance on the current team.
    Usually very critical. Because the more critical he is, the more attention he gets.

    But the game has changed. The rules have changed. And he doesn’t even have access to the new playbook anymore.
    So he just sits there on the sidelines, confused and disorientated, mumbling his objections to himself. And anyone else who will listen.
    Which is nobody, eventually.
    There’s a reason that old people go on retirement… Maybe it’s time for Bob to go catch some fish. Or bounce some grandkids on his knee. Or treat Mrs Lutz to a romantic getaway in Tuscany, indulging in too much Chianti and Cialis
    Or whatever it is that obscenely wealthy ex auto execs do once nobody wants them to be auto execs anymore.
    Dude, if you were that clever, you’d still be CEO. Or some other company would be begging you to come and take over their struggling EV division.

    As Ted Turner was fond of saying: “Either lead, or follow, or get the f**k out of the way.”
    It’s time for Bob Lutz to get out of the way.

    • Dag Johansen

      He really does. Especially with the endless climate change denial stupidity.

  • mulp

    Is Lutz suggesting that a million $65,000 SUVs cost $20,000 more each because they are paying $200,000 in subsidies for each of 100,000 zero emission cars sold for $30,000 each?

  • kallen

    I observe Detroit and I think: what a bunch of unimaginative cry babies. They have an opportunity and all they do is complain. They are followers, they need to be leaders. I think they need to get rid if the top 3 or 4 layers of management and get some younger, creative blood in there.

  • Art Trese

    The Yukon and Escalde are not, remotely, utility vehicles… they are giant, wallowing status symbols. Carrying one kid and two dogs in a big mobile advertisement for one’s wealth. They make up for the fact that you can’t trot your 5 bedrom, 6 bath house around with you to show it off.

  • hybridbear

    Isn’t it good if SUVs are increasing in price? That makes them harder to afford which should hurt their sales. And, without the giant SUV profit margins, Ford, Nissan, Chevy & others couldn’t produce relatively affordable EVs.

  • onesecond

    What they always try to sweep under the rug: Tesla would be highly profitable right now, if it wasn’t expanding like crazy.

    • Indeed. It wouldn’t grow to be the size of GM (or however big it ends up being), but it wouldn’t have trouble making a healthy profit.

      • Coley

        Now I don’t know that much about American finances and it’s economy but didn’t GM have to be bailed out by the US govt? Or was that Tesla?

    • Dag Johansen

      I doubt they would be “highly” profitable. Perhaps profitable. Probably around break-even.

      • Bob_Wallace

        Take a look at the numbers on the 3rd quarter, 2015 stockholder newsletter. First nine months of the year.

        Take away the R&D expenditures and Tesla is at roughly breakeven. Net loss is less than R&D.

        Then reflect on the fact that Tesla added a second assembly line in their Fremont plant and opened a second assembly plant in Europe during the 4th quarter. That should double their annual production in 2016. So double their gross profit going forward.

        Unless Tesla greatly expands R&D spending or finds a new way to spend money growing the company it looks to me like Tesla should be overall profitable in 2016.

  • Peter Egan

    Lutz, despite Via Motors, is a dinosaur. Countries that don’t have great need for change are at great risk of being followers. India and China have big pollution problems that drive change. In a few years, Beijing is likely to only register fully electric vehicles for use in the city and phase out vehicles with ICEs over a decade or so – such is its pollution problem. Include surrounding provinces, the demand could be 10 million EVs per year. Europe feels the hot breath of competition from the other end of the Eurasian land mass. The American hemisphere ignores the other hemisphere at its peril.

    • Dag Johansen

      He’s just a paid spokesmodel for Via Motors.

  • Ed

    Bob Lutz was a respected visionary in the our auto industry….but that industry will struggle as long as it views low- and zero-emission cars as “compliance vehicles.” Lutz could have been a big help in getting folks to accept that we must begin the move to zero-emission vehicles, helping explain why incentives will be needed to get the job done. Fuel taxes, carbon taxes, EV incentives, carpool lane access, public chargers, etc., whatever it takes to get the ball rolling. But Lutz is simply “not there.” He is now working against ZEVs.

    • Kyle Field

      Yes and no. He’s fronting an electric truck company “Via”. Not sure how that reconciles with what he’s saying about GM. Perhaps he’s just jealous of their fantastic battery pricing with LG…

  • RobSez

    Wow, THE Bob Lutz? I thought he died! So, is this the same Bob Lutz who helped drive Government Motors into the ground and walked away without a scratch? The Bob Lutz who had the EV industry in the palm of his hand with the EV-1 and then killed it? If it is. Remind me again why does anyone care???

  • Bob_Wallace

    Can we do some guesstimatin’ here?

    50 kWh @ $145/kWh = $7,250. Plus 30% to put the cells into packs = $9,425.
    Electric motor = $2,000.

    Controller = $1,000.
    Total $12,425.

    MSRP $37,500.
    Less batteries, motor, controller = $25,075.

    MSRP Honda Accord = $22,105. Includes engine, fuel/cooling/exhaust systems, transmission and manufacturer profits. I’m thinkin the Accord looks like “more” car than the Bolt. It’s got to cost a lot less than $22,105 to manufacture an Accord if you leave out all the ICE stuff.

    My guesstimatin’ says Lutz is talking smack….

    • Carl Raymond S

      The link above is to a detailed Seeking Alpha article, which does the full cost analysis on the Model 3, concluding that it will make >$3K gross profit if sold at $35K. Many buyers will find it difficult to resist adding options (e.g. dual motor) and will pay more than that.

      I would expect that GM could produce a car for similar, paying more for the batteries, but less for the remainder given their buying power and mass production capability.

      Where GM does indeed lose, is on lost sales of other models which keep their ‘authentic’ spare/service parts business ticking over. In that sense, Lutz is right – the Bolt will lose money.

      Should GM listen to Lutz and opt out of the EV business, they lose not only the parts revenue, but the car sale itself. The choice is: lose a revenue stream, or lose everything.

      • Kyle Field

        I would be surprised if Telsa offered a single motor version of the 3. Or maybe that’s one of the cost savings ideas. Seems like 2 smaller motors offers so many benefits over 1 single motor (elon mentioned how critical redundancy is for autonomous driving). It’s going to be an interesting couple of years…

        • Carl Raymond S

          I was thinking that single and dual motor variants would be one way to meet their commitment to a $35K baseline, whilst offering something drool-worthy enough to entice buyers up another $5K.

          I suppose they could achieve the same with software – selling it as a touchscreen button – tap here for ‘ludicrous’.

          People have come to accept enabled/disabled features – common in the digital world. And the precedent is set – all new Teslas have autopilot hardware, but the buyer has to pay for ‘enablement’.

          I suppose it comes down to which is more efficient – to have two models with different hardware (saving the cost of a motor here and there), or to deliver a second motor to a percentage of buyers who won’t pay to unlock maximum torque.

          The latter approach may create a higher value car on resale, as the new purchaser may pay the unlock fee – a quick and easy $5K for Tesla.

          We did hear rumour that the car was ‘amazing’… OK, I’m convinced. Hopes now set to ‘dual’.

          • Kyle Field

            If they start selling cars that are fully hardware capable and just need owners to pay to play, there is going to be a serious hacking revolution which doesn’t benefit anyone as that also compromises autonomous driving and the core functionality / safety of the car.

            Quite the slippery slope…

          • Carl Raymond S

            Sorry for hijacking this thread which was about GM, but we’ve wandered onto the topic of autopilot and safety and this needs to be discussed.

            An elderly man has died after smashing through the back of a garage and landing his Tesla in a pool. He apparently hit the accelerator instead of the brake. Would it be correct to say that this would be impossible in the current model vehicles, equipped with the forward facing radar?

            People will be clamouring for action, and it seems likely to me that the action has already been taken. It is just unfortunate that this man purchased before the technology became standard. (Assuming he did have an old model – it it’s current model, prepare for stock to fall and the lawyers to line up).

          • Kyle Field

            I don’t think so though I’m not sure how the radar works – is it on all the time or just with autopilot? will it automagically brake? (my mercedes b-class electric will) will it bring the vehicle to a complete stop? mistakes will always happen and tech should not be built for every eventuality, just the most likely.

          • Carl Raymond S

            I’ve heard Musk say that the safety features are always enabled, even in cars which do not pay for Autopilot. I assume this includes application of the brakes if there’s a garage wall in one’s path.
            If a car was heading for an unbarricaded lake or river, the situation is hard to prevent. If Tesla are seeking a response, I’d suggest it’s worth investigating whether the existing sensors can determine a set of inputs which beyond doubt reveal that the car is afloat – if so, wind down the windows before the power shorts out (release seat belts, sound SOS on horn, open doors if doable).
            Code is cheap.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I would think it would be impossible. Radar is going to tell the car that there is something in the pathway. Car would be programmed to hit nothing.

        • Foersom

          > I would be surprised if Telsa offered a single motor version of the 3.

          It will for sure have only one motor, they need to reduce cost on the BOM.

          • Kyle Field

            The question of cost is exactly that – dollars and sense (heh). If two smaller motors generate the desired amount of power more cost effectively (from an overall platform standpoint), there may be two. For instance, designing just one frame style/interior style,etc based on a dual motor platform that can then be upgraded to larger dual motors if needed. Dual as default is likely not cheaper…but could be. Really depends on quite a few details which I for one am not privy to.

          • Foersom

            > Dual as default is likely not cheaper…but could be.

            One motor would certainly be cheaper and cheaper to install during manufacturing.

      • Bob_Wallace

        Good article. Guy’s got a much more talented pencil than what I’m using.

      • Coley

        Not got a good head for maths, but even,so given the simplicity of an EV compared to the complicated ICE engine and drive train, surely the EV will soon seriously undercut the basic ICE car on a purely economic model?
        Where I can see the deniers and trolls having an ‘in’ is the need for 4×4 and towing capabilities, and obviously heavy haulage.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Take a look at this graphic. The horizontal axis is battery pack cost, not battery cells.

          GM has announced $145/kWh. The Battery University says 20% to 30% to turn cells into packs. That’s $174 to $190/kwh. Tesla may be at $130 for cells when the Gigafactory is running. $156 to $170 for packs.

          I would expect Tesla to be toward the 20% end due to the efficiency of their plant.

        • Carl Raymond S

          There are youtube vids of Model X’s towing 2 tonne boats. Range suffers considerably, especially if the designation is at altitude. Most boat outings are day trips to a local piece of water, well within range. We have a ‘god of the gaps’ situation, where the number of applications suitable for ICE cars only gets thinner each year.
          Trucks have also been discussed. Options are battery swap and overhead wires on lane one on hills. A 1000km electric bus was recently driven by Brighsun (spelling is correct, no ‘t’) from Melbourne to Sydney.

      • Carl Raymond S

        For the historical record:

        Since making that post above 21 days ago, GM have revealed the Bolt. As things stand, the Bolt is the best affordable EV going, but notably, it lacks supercharging capability. We are yet to learn if this is an inherent limitation of the battery, or a charging design constraint.

        Tesla’s Model 3 reveal is roughly 60 days from now, which of course will have supercharging capability, as a well as an existing supercharger network in many markets.

    • Adrian

      A Chevy Sonic can be had for $15.4k. That leaves lots of room for battery and EV drivetrain at $37k.

      • eveee

        IMO, it’s the cousin, Trax. But it may be anew model from the ground up. Still, point taken, there is huge room for profit.

    • eveee

      Yes. These are volume numbers. It’s the old game. How much volume and when. How much tooling cost assigned to that model. First year at 30k volume. Bring the volume up to 100k and more volume pricing. One more thing. Margin. They have overhead to cover. Really, when you look at costs, we should look at margin. What’s your best estimate? 20%? Less? Margins can be low in autos. Or calculate from the est asking price of 37,500 then consider margin to get cost. So somewhere in the low 30k range. Take your EV component numbers and subtract the 12,425. Still a big amount, about 18k, for the rest of the non drivetrain part of the car. All that is giving me the impression that the economics have more to do with the low volume costs of normal auto manufacture than any costs related to batteries or EVs in particular. Normally auto companies drop any model not commanding a premium if volume drops somewhere below 20k. The 30k volume planned for the Bolt is at the low end of volume for GM. Blaming battery costs for the high MSRP seems false. What’s the difference in drivetrain costs ICE vs EV. It surely isn’t 20k.

    • Dag Johansen

      I doubt the motor costs $2000. But you are forgetting the cost of the charger electronics. And the all-electric accessories (heat, A/C, brakes, etc.) probably cost a little more than the standard car stuff. And that $145/KWH number is probably loss-leader that LG Chem is giving to GM only on the agreement that LG Chem also gets to supply a huge pile of other parts for the Chevy Bolt (look up how many other parts LG Chem is building for the Bolt).

      So it is probably around break even or a small profit on a marginal bases if you exclude NRE.

  • John Moore

    This is a fossil fool story.

  • John Moore

    And during the same interview, Bob said that the horseless carriage would never replace the horse. “….You have to remember, that in addition to being transportation, there is the fertilizer….”

  • Joe Viocoe

    Ah, the Donald Trump of the automotive industry speaks again.
    EVs are the future, and we can’t get there listening to fossils.

    • Kyle Field

      “everyone else should build fuel cells. don’t look at the Lutz behind the curtain heading up an electric truck company” lol

  • Charlotte Omoto

    This is the same guy that suggested that Tesla should sell plug-in hybrids. Yeah.

  • S Herb

    GM doesn’t need to make money on the Bolt; it needs a bridge to the future. I hope that a significant part of the company sees it in this light. Mr. Lutz apparently does not.

    • Bob_Wallace

      That’s true. GM could sell the Bolt at cost and use the increased volume to build up their supply chains.

      • Bob_Wallace

        Let me add, the companies that get a quality EV to market first are likely to have a huge market advantage for a few years. The more Tesla and GM can flood the market with their cars the better for them.

        EVs are new tech. People who want to try an EV are much more likely to buy the same brand as someone they know has. Less likely to buy another company’s first or second year entry.

  • sjc_1

    CLutz should just be quiet.

  • evfan

    James, you missed a vital detail in your writeup. Lutz made these comments before GM revealed in September that the Bolt is basically a rebadged LG car, and they got a wonderful deal on the batteries.

    • Kyle Field

      I know the battery pricing leaked after the aug update but was under the impression that the majority of the drivetrain and the car itself were all Chevy. Did I miss something? Obviously the majority of the price variability is the battery so that would make sense if batteries are what you’re referring to…

      • Bob_Wallace

        LG Chem is apparently manufacturing the batteries and electric motor for the Bolt. Perhaps the rest of the electronic gear as well.

        • eveee

          Sounds like GM has discovered keiretsu. Maybe they will learn quality. The Japanese typically enter into long term mutually beneficial partnerships. The American way was to use cut throat bids and have no loyalty to any supplier. That won’t work with GM trying to enter the EV business. They need a partner.

          “”I also think that on an electrified basis, this requires a long-term commitment and trust that sometimes is violated on a more short-term, regular, traditional basis. I think we have found something completely different with LG and I think that has become a widely talked about and duplicated want from our purchasing and corporate standpoint with our supply base.”

        • dogphlap dogphlap

          and the inverter, and the charger, and the BMS. In short anything 21st century comes from LG. GM has the same access to the same engineering talent as Tesla and Apple but they chose to farm out all the high tech stuff to LG rather than take this opportunity to develop in house talent in the future of the automobile. Sad short term thinking.
          Still the car appears to be a good one so there is that.

          • Adrian

            They even have in-house EV talent, a big battery lab, etc. Baffling to outsource it all! Unless…. They were all busy working on something more important….

    • “this was at an Automotive News roundtable back in August”

      -I thought that was obvious, but yeah, could have been highlighted.

  • Ross

    Lutz has it the wrong way around.

    It is ICE vehicles that are non-compliant with the planet’s 1.5C carbon budget.

    If he wants to help he should become a champion of a market based solution to properly price the costs of damage done by fossil fuels.

    • Matt

      And fix the highway fund with a yearly fee = scale*miles_Driven*(gross weight + max weight capacity)**2

      Since a 20x increase in weight results in 9600x road wear. The “2” is too small, but it averages out since they are not always at max. And yes that is any wheeled item allowed on the roads.
      Bike with rider (200lbs), average car (4000lbs), semi (80k lbs). Since biking and walking are the best forms, a good portion of the fee should go to improve their access.

      Then the current gas tax can becoming the starting point for a carbon tax.

      • Kraylin

        EV’s are going to be very expensive using weight as a determining factor for the road tax cost… Not saying that is good or bad…

        • Bob_Wallace

          What’s a fair comparison with the Tesla S, a BMW Series 7?

          BMW 740i Sedan Curb Weight 4,310 lbs
          Tesla S85 Curb Weight 4,630 lbs

          Nissan Versa and Leaf?

          Nissan Versa 2,363 to 2,498 lbs
          Nissan Leaf 3,256 to3 3,391 lbs

          • Kraylin

            That’s very intriguing… why do people constantly complain about carrying around “heavy” batteries if it hasn’t made vehicles, on average, any heavier?

          • Roger Lambert

            ? They ARE heavier. A thousand pounds of batteries is 1000 lbs and $10,000 worth of batteries we would not need if we had electric roads.

          • Harry Johnson

            Or a range extender powered by whatever.

          • Kraylin

            thank you, i misread the Versa and Leaf comparison thinking they were also very close in weight.

          • Bob_Wallace

            How much would an ICE and its systems weigh? Look at the net gain, not the weight of the batteries alone.

            I did some back of envelop math for a battery powered 18-wheeler truck using swappable batteries. The battery pack would weight about 7,200 pounds.

            But a diesel engine would weigh in the neighborhood about 2,800 pounds plus all its systems. And fully loaded the tractor would carry over 2,000 pounds of fuel. Net gain, not really all that much for a 80,000 pound beast.

          • Coley

            I remember you mentioning this on a few threads, and its interesting, but what kind of mileage do you envisage on a ‘ battery pack’ and how long would a ”pack exchange’ take?

          • Bob_Wallace

            I just used 200 miles as a hypothetical range. About three hours of driving.

            Swapping. Pull off the highway and stop in a charge bay. Driver punches a button and the battery pack is unlatched. Battery extractor rolls in front of the tractor, pulls out the used up pack. Right behind it is the inserter, shoves in a charged pack. Truck drives on through.

            Three minutes? Something very short. Tesla and Better Place/Renault swap out in about that amount of time.

          • ROBwithaB

            Well, the Versa vs Leaf comparison does yield a difference of about 900 pounds. So there’s that…

            But of course, the capacity for regenerative braking means that weight is not the absolute dealbreaker that many might assume. A lot of the energy required to accelerate, or lift the mass uphill, can be recaptured. With ICEs, every extra pound means wasted energy every time you go downhill or stop at a traffic light.

          • Bob_Wallace

            According to Tesla up to 64% of the energy used to put the weight into motion can be recovered.


            Non-regenerative braking would return zero. Some additional weight via batteries is likely inconsequential. And batteries will almost certainly get lighter.

          • Coley

            But, just out of curiosity, how does the number of occupants of the car reconfigure the maths?

          • Bob_Wallace

            I’ve never seen any numbers. Let’s guess.

            Four hundred pounds of occupants? With the Tesla S that would add less than 10% to the weight of the car. It would (and I’m really guessing here) add less than 10% to the amount of energy to get the car moving. Much of that energy would be recovered with regenerative braking.

            I’d guess a small but noticeable range decrease for city/stop and go driving. Not much on highways.

          • Bob_Wallace

            If the Leaf/Versa comparison is the right one to make the batteries are adding about one-third more to the weight. But considering that a large portion of the energy used to put that weight in motion is going to get recovered with regenerative braking the extra may be meaningless.

            I think there are, no, I’m sure there are people who are opposed to EVs and look for anything they can use to attack/demean them. And there are some people who have no ‘evil’ intentions but have just accepted the talking point, having heard it repeatedly.

      • Not a bad framework for funding transportation.

        I strongly prefer segregating bike paths to mere bike lanes. The Natchez Trace around Jackson, MS is one of the best I’ve seen.

  • eveee

    Lutz is an embarrassment. He runs an EV company making trucks and tells you GMs EV and Tesla are failures. Never any numbers. Just overrated opinion.

    • evfan

      Regardless of what you think of Lutz, does anybody think his new company Via is going to be successful with their trucks?

      • eveee

        Look at the prices for via motors trucks. It’s one thing selling a luxury SUV or sedan for 70k. But a truck? I don’t know. Maybe when prices come down. Trucks are a huge market.
        Just saying Lutz knows how to call a kettle black. Is his company making money? How come he can’t stop talking about how he thinks everyone else is a failure? Doesn’t he have anything good enough to get attention to his own company?

      • Bob_Wallace

        That’s a hard one. Does he have a team with the same mindset and energy as the Tesla team? Can he raise the capital to go large enough to create economies of scale?

        If he’s got some creative energy inside the company, maybe. But I don’t get the feeling that Lutz has a Tesla-like vision.

        The Tesla semi-spinoff, Wrightspeed, might have a better chance. It’s being run by one of the Tesla co-founders.

        • dogphlap dogphlap

          Wrightspeed have a very good chance since they have limited their efforts to a couple of narrow niches where the hybrid vehicles they produce with their bolt on conversions for new truck chassis (garbage trucks and maybe local delivery trucks) make a great deal of sense. For some folks Via trucks will make sense too but the case is nowhere near as compelling.

        • And if anyone hasn’t listened, here’s our chat with Ian Wright for the Cleantech Talk podcast (I think it better summarizes the Wrightspeed story & competitive advantage than the website… last I looked at the website, at least):

      • ron

        evfan: Define successful. Apparently the fleet buyers that VIA is focusing on are hungry for their trucks (and vans). If the product works for them and gets good reviews, I don’t know why regular consumers wouldn’t likewise want them.

        • evfan

          Ron, what do you mean by “Apparently”? Are you speculating or do you have information? For instance, I can find several reports online that folks are happy with XLhybrid conversions. I cannot find an unbiased view of Via trucks? Perhaps you are such a source. I hope!!

          • eveee

            They started in 2012 or so and the truck just got EPA certification in June of 2015. The van was approved in November. They say they started production in January.

            IMO, its too early to tell. They don’t seem to be letting any loose on the buying public. Hard to get reviews that way. They are going to utility fleets. Thats what GM did a long time ago with earlier EV-1 tech. These are converted GM trucks. Asking price is 79k.




          • evfan

            Thanks for the detailed answer, it turns out it takes a long time to bring such a vehicle to market, even if it is a conversion. One of your links says the trucks will be available in 2013. And then it says it was delayed 12 months. Do you have any idea how many they have made during the 11 months they have been in production?

          • eveee

            From the articles, it looks like the number is low to utilities. I can’t find any official figures.

            Lutz comments are schizophrenic. He says the future will be all electric. But then he disses GM and Tesla EVs. I don’t know how he can make such contradictory statements. I am getting whiplash.

            Maybe he thinks the future is later. I think he’s wrong. The future is now for EVs. I have a feeling this is like some of the EV ventures I know of a few years ago. IMO, If you were independent before Tesla, you might have stood a chance. After Tesla, forget it. Too much risk and capital to start a new car company. Coda is dead. Aptera is gone. If VIA is not successful by the time Nissan, Tesla, etc. enter the market, the don’t stand much chance in the EV business.
            The field is littered with failed EV truck ventures. I hope they succeed.


          • Ron

            ‘Ron, what do you mean by “Apparently”?”

            evfan: When I said Via’s fleet customers are “apparently” hungry for Via’s products, I meant that fleet buyers are taking all the trucks and vans Via can make, and orders are backlogged. I’m unaware of any published reviews, but for what it’s worth Via says feedback has been generally positive as the vehicles have delivered EV range above original targets and with drivability better than the base vehicle. I assume that reliability will take longer to assess, as the first series of deliveries didn’t occur until the summer of 2015, after receipt of CARB and EPA certification. My supposition is that Via isn’t even trying to create a buzz with ordinary consumers, because it’s not selling to the open market (yet) given it’s very limited production.

          • eveee

            Do you have some references for that. Would love to read them.

  • Steven F

    full-size sport-utilities were expensive even before the volt came on the market. And many in fact did cost more than the volt does now. Furthermore there have been a lot of changes at GM since he left the company ( bankruptcy and labor contract changes). As of right now GM dealers in California have no problems selling every volt and spark they have on the lot and the same is true for the Nissan leaf.

    His comments are based on what he saw at GM rears ago and he is assuming things are the same today. They are not and his beleifs are probably wrong.

    • Freddy D

      Agreed. The notion that a small number of EVs is increasing their cost structure to the point that it’s increasing the prices 30% on millions of large trucks is ludicrous. Sales of trucks/ full size SUVs is well over 1 million per year – over 1000% more than EVs. Furthermore, how much value does one get on a fully loaded Yukon? It’s one of the most versatile, capable vehicles out there; quick, quiet, seats a lot, carries a lot, tows a lot, reliable and on and on (I realize I’m on the LEAF channel here, but the fact is that America loves these things). Of course they’re worth a lot because people love them and buy them and they do almost anything, short of sipping fuel of course. Even the fuel economy of these is DOUBLE what they were 2 decades ago. To add icing to the cake, the economy is booming now – “it’s the economy, stupid”.

    • Dragon

      Huh? Nissan has had _huge_ trouble clearing 2015 LEAFs off the lot. I even saw a new 2014 model listed as still available in Texas. Will that change with the 2016? I sure hope so, but I notice 3 are available at my local Fontana nissan and they’re discounted $11-$12k off MSRP. says an MSRP discount of $2,741 is a “great price” so discounting about 4 times that price strikes me as a big sign that interest is not high and they’re struggling to move the cars. Not surprising since there’s almost no advertising being done and most salespeople would rather sell more expensive SUVs.

      I sure hope the 2016 LEAF sales figures posted after the end of the month are great but I’m not very hopeful so far.

      • Michael49forlife

        The Volt has the same $11k “discount”… but only for a lease. This is because the leasing company gets the $7500 government tax credit instead of the purchaser. No dealership would sell a brand new car for a $8000 loss.

  • Freddy D

    I’m not much of a sports fan, but I do know that you have to pass the ball to where the receiver is going to be, not to where they are now. Lutz’s comments are typical of finance people who think that cost structures are static, not dynamic. No consideration of learning curves, cost declines, R&D lifecycles. Which is ironic for the father of the Chevy Volt, clearly a money losing proposition in the early years and which set the stage for an electric car future at GM. Today GM has: battery supply chain relationships, electric car software, battery pack engineering and assembly expertise, thermal management expertise, performance expertise, patents, more patents, and so on. Imagine the companies who haven’t played ball in the early years of EVs. They’re dismissive of EV technology and they’ll be gone by 2030. Who will pick up Chrysler on the next bankruptcy? Three strikes and you’re out, I’d guess… (BMW will buy the Jeep brand name and electrify it…)

    • Bob_Wallace

      Apple will buy Chrysler and build EVs for their acolytes. ;o)

      • Wallace

        Wish I could buy Chrysler for the same price Fiat paid for it= nothing. What a deal we gave them. We need a better negotiator as president.

        • Bob_Wallace

          That’s one big Obama-bash attempt fail.

          The Obama administration helped Chrysler go into Chapter 11 rather than go completely out of business and get sold for scrap.

          Fiat bought a controlling interest for $4.35 billion.

          • Wallace

            Basically nothing. How about keep Chrysler rather than selling to a foreign brand. They should have saved Chrysler without foreigners.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Do you not know who previously owned Chrysler?

            Ever hear of a company named Daimler? Know where they are located?

          • Wallace

            Did I say I was in favor of that? We finally had a chance to take back our company and then we pushed it into different foreign hands.

          • Bob_Wallace

            “Our” company. Chrysler has been a marginal company for a long time.

            You think the federal government should take it over an turn it into a successful company? The right would love that idea… ;o)

          • jeffhre

            Why don’t you open your checkbook then. Chrysler has tied up funds, sucked up resources and slowed growth for two foreign firms, Cerberus and the US government. Do us the favor of being a good American, buy them, overhaul their operations from top to bottom, and finally get them off the dole with your checkbook.

          • MorinMoss

            Chrysler has been on life support back when Jimmy Carter was president. It’s past time to let them DIE.

          • ROBwithaB

            I didn’t see a lot of American companies standing in a queue to buy Chrysler at the time.

          • Termin8r

            Foreigner here. What’s wrong with foreigners?

          • Dragon

            Foreigner! RUN!!

          • Adrian

            An American company would have to WANT to buy it.

            Would you want to own Chrysler? I sure as heck wouldn’t!

          • Robert Wegrzen

            It would come with Guts & Glory. That’s worth something to somebody.

        • ROBwithaB

          Chrysler was only able to stay solvent because they entered into a “pertnership” with Mitsubishi (Japanese).
          And they’re only worth anything today because of the Jeep brand.
          Which they had gotten from Renault (French).
          And as a result, they were able to sell themselves to Daimler (German). And then Fiat (Italian).

          Chrysler is like that slutty girl with famously big knockers that everyone wants to get involved with, but nobody wants to marry.

  • Termin8r

    “The solution to the issue, according to Lutz, is for multiple automakers to collectively work together on the creation of compliance cars”

    Working together and not reinventing the wheel independently is good, but “creation of compliance cars” is one of the stupidest things I’ve heard from this dinosaur. Did it not occur to him that more and more people actually want zero emission cars? Tesla and Nissan have proven that’s the case. Most of those people are not looking back. Why not build the cars those people want, instead of the cars that will comply to government regulations and do little else to further the transition to green(er) transport?

    • Bob_Wallace

      That’s the sort of thinking that resulted in the American car industry losing dominance to Asian/Japanese car manufacturers. Detroit built what they thought people should want to drive but buyers purchased efficiency and reliability.

      • Martams

        Efficiency goes out the window when gasoline is cheap. In fact in some states, fuel is now cheaper per mile on a Prius than on the most efficient EV car for sale.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Most think gas cannot stay this cheap in the long run. Even the cheap producers need to make more per barrel.

          • Coley

            Think about it Bob, sell the stones at whatever price, while there is still a market,

          • Bob_Wallace

            EVs won’t impact the gas market for several more years. It’s too early to have a going out of business sale.

        • Shane 2

          The major problem with ICE vehicles is the pollution they emit. Tax the fuel appropriately to make less polluting vehicles competitive.

          • gundersonrogers

            Interesting how seldom Global Warming is referred to in these sections.

          • Bob_Wallace

            It’s not necessary. Global warming is a given. This site is how we minimize it.

        • Jesse

          Close, but not quite.

          We filled up our (2014) Prius on Saturday for $1.60/gallon (central Texas, away from the interstate). If we were getting the mileage claimed on the sticker (50) that would work out to $0.032 per mile. We don’t actually get that, at least not on the highway, but it’s close ($0.03478 on our last trip).

          But, I get 4.1 miles/kWh in my Leaf (less on the Intersate, more when traffic is moving slowly during rush hour, but it’s averaged 4.1 overall for the first 19k miles). That works out to $0.02927 per mile (given an electricity rate of $0.12 per kWh, the highest tier we generally pay, during the summer months…it’s actually quite a bit cheaper right now since we’re on winter rates, and we never use enough electricity during winter to push into the higher tiers).

          So, yeah, the most efficient ICE auto sold in America is almost as cheap to run as my Leaf right now, but not quite (as long as we’re just looking at fuel costs…maintenance and insurance cost a bit more for the Prius as well).

          And as someone else pointed out, gas prices won’t be this low much longer (I expect them to rebound next year, and likely be back in the $3-4 range within 3 years).

          • MB

            Finally someone with real numbers to share. Thanks Jesse

          • Marion Meads

            In Southern California, their highest tier can reach $0.39/kWH, and so that would be 9.7 cents/mile for the leaf. Gasoline prices in Southern California can reach $2.39/gallon at CostCo, and for a 2016 Prius (55 mpg), that would be 4.3 cents/mile.

            Over here in PG&E land, especially during the winter, our tier 4 rates is more than $0.36/kWH plus other utility fees.

            Now talk about how much do the charging station charge you per kWH? We will have to wake up that this is a real problem for EV adoption, not sugar coat this with denial and other justifications.

            So No matter how you justify it, the fact remains:
            Energy costs per mile of EV can more than the 2016 Prius, and in some cases more than double.

            As for me, I’m with EV. I have solar, so it costs me $0.00/mile after my solar PV would be completely paid off later next year.

          • Tim

            SCE is under $0.12/kWh for electric vehicle off-peak rates, which is when anybody would charge, for both summer and winter. So, unless you’re talking about people who don’t care about money that much, to which this discussion does not apply anyway, you are wrong again with your numbers. I’ve usually found your math to be dubious. I get less than 3 cents per mile for a Leaf using some of your math.

          • Steven F

            Most people don’t have a Prius. If you use the average fleet mileage the gas cost will be at least double your 4.3 cets/miles figure. Also not everyone is purchasing power at tier 4 price levels. My volt has pushed me to tier 2 levels and as a result my electricity cost is about half the tier 4 price.

            so for me right now it is cheeper to use electricity than gas.

            For those not living in california, electricity prices are based on usage. The more you use the more you pay. Tier 1 is the lowest rate while tier 4 is the highest rate. Also if you don’t want to use tier rates, California utilities also have time of use rates.

          • eveee

            You can get EV rates from pg e.
            SCE might too. SoCal utilities are trying to foster EVs

          • Dragon

            Not exactly fair to use costco gas prices in your math when it costs a membership fee to get those prices. Most populated areas of socal charge closer to $3 a gallon. Here’s some stats on average cost across the state:

            It’s $2.825 as of 12/28, up 10c from 12/21.

          • eveee

            Now Marion, you did the same thing months ago comparing the highest electricity costs on an EV with the lowest fuel costs on a Prius. Bogus comparison.
            No EV owner is deliberately charging during peak times unless they are willing to pay peak charges. Utilities offer special EV rates for late night TOU that are nearer 10c/ kwhr in the San Diego area and in the rest of California.
            So no, EV fuel costs are not higher than a Prius. And Prius ownership costs are higher because of increased operation and maintenance.
            Why are charging station costs important to EV owners? They are not as important as home charging. Over 90% of charging is at home.

    • John Moore

      He actually has a non speaking role in “The Good Dinosaur”.

Back to Top ↑