GM Boss: F1’s New Rules are Greenwash

 

145 “Racing is one of the few things that can foster innovation faster than war”, said GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz during a bloggers round-table discussion on the eve of this year’s Geneva motor show.

Describing some of the future challenges that will be faced by global manufacturers such as General Motors, Bob lamented the fact that auto racing – a sport with the potential to inspire significant innovation through competition – has become so tightly regulated in order to prevent teams from gaining significant advantages, that from a manufacturer’s perspective it provides little benefit beyond pure marketing.





“I’d like to see alternative vehicle racing,” Bob told us, “where perhaps instead of the 15 second tyre and fuel stop, we would see a 15 second battery change.”

Asked for his opinion on Formula 1’s new rules for 2009, which permit the use of hybrid Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (KERS), Bob had a short answer: “I call that Greenwash. F1 racing still uses a ton of fuel.”

Commenting on statements from politicians to the effect that many of GM’s current problems stem from an outdated product range which fails to reflect the priorities of today’s consumers, Bob was similarly forthright: “Where is the incentive for the American public to buy a more expensive alternative fuels car when gas is $1.80 a gallon?”.

Where indeed?

GM is currently betting on battery technology becoming the future, not hydrogen as many in the auto industry believe. Bob believes that hydrogen technology is simply too expensive with current test vehicles costing close to $1 million each. On top of this the basic infrastructure for electric cars is already available.

Where does that leave the petroleum industry? Not very well off – according to Bob “the petroleum industry is even dumber than the auto industry.”

Thanks Bob, great chat!

Editors Note: See Mark’s last post as well (thanks for the coverage Mark!): Opel Unveils New Ampera – And it Looks Really Good






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  • Bob Lutz’ criticism of F1 is totally unwarranted. Years ago, when Lutz was at Chrysler, he pushed for millions of dollars to develop the Patriot hybrid-racer … which was never competitive, and which led to Chrysler being an innovator in … um … getting taken over by the Germans?

    Nothing Lutz says can be taken seriously, anymore – especially considering that Renault, Ferrari (and, therefor, Fiat), BMW, and others are already finding ways to transfer the KERS technology to their road cars.

    It’s time for Lutz to just go away, and take his stone-age “no replacement for displacement” attitude with him.

  • Bob Lutz’ criticism of F1 is totally unwarranted. Years ago, when Lutz was at Chrysler, he pushed for millions of dollars to develop the Patriot hybrid-racer … which was never competitive, and which led to Chrysler being an innovator in … um … getting taken over by the Germans?

    Nothing Lutz says can be taken seriously, anymore – especially considering that Renault, Ferrari (and, therefor, Fiat), BMW, and others are already finding ways to transfer the KERS technology to their road cars.

    It’s time for Lutz to just go away, and take his stone-age “no replacement for displacement” attitude with him.

  • Bob Lutz’ criticism of F1 is totally unwarranted. Years ago, when Lutz was at Chrysler, he pushed for millions of dollars to develop the Patriot hybrid-racer … which was never competitive, and which led to Chrysler being an innovator in … um … getting taken over by the Germans?

    Nothing Lutz says can be taken seriously, anymore – especially considering that Renault, Ferrari (and, therefor, Fiat), BMW, and others are already finding ways to transfer the KERS technology to their road cars.

    It’s time for Lutz to just go away, and take his stone-age “no replacement for displacement” attitude with him.

  • Substantial Development

    I agree with Jo Borras. Lutz is old news and bad for the industry.

  • Substantial Development

    I agree with Jo Borras. Lutz is old news and bad for the industry.

  • Substantial Development

    I agree with Jo Borras. Lutz is old news and bad for the industry.

  • Seriously – now that it’s fashionable, Lutz is trumpeting 15 second battery changes … where was that foresight and innovative spirit when he was CEO of Exide Batteries?? (1998-2002)

  • Seriously – now that it’s fashionable, Lutz is trumpeting 15 second battery changes … where was that foresight and innovative spirit when he was CEO of Exide Batteries?? (1998-2002)

  • Seriously – now that it’s fashionable, Lutz is trumpeting 15 second battery changes … where was that foresight and innovative spirit when he was CEO of Exide Batteries?? (1998-2002)

  • A D

    Why are you critical of what Lutz said?

    He’s right about F1. They will still use a boatload of fuel.

    BTW, nobody has sold or has a KERS system production ready.

  • A D

    Why are you critical of what Lutz said?

    He’s right about F1. They will still use a boatload of fuel.

    BTW, nobody has sold or has a KERS system production ready.

  • ChuckL

    I believe that it was UPS or Fed Ex that is now using KERS systems in some of its delivery trucks. If memory serves correctly, the system uses hydraulic fluid powered by compressed air for motivation and braking pumps the fluid back to the high pressure chamber. The pump/motor is a positive displacement unit.

    It is not really new technology. Automobiles are just a new application. and just out of curiosity, wouldn’t a regenerative braking system such as Ford has in the 2010 Fusion also qualify as a KERS system? I know. This is also just a new application and Ford wasn’t the first.

  • ChuckL

    I believe that it was UPS or Fed Ex that is now using KERS systems in some of its delivery trucks. If memory serves correctly, the system uses hydraulic fluid powered by compressed air for motivation and braking pumps the fluid back to the high pressure chamber. The pump/motor is a positive displacement unit.

    It is not really new technology. Automobiles are just a new application. and just out of curiosity, wouldn’t a regenerative braking system such as Ford has in the 2010 Fusion also qualify as a KERS system? I know. This is also just a new application and Ford wasn’t the first.

  • ChuckL

    Lutz is correct if one only considers current racing formulae or organizations. NASCAR, doesn’t even use what the manufacturers produce for sale.Ford and Toyota use overhead camshaft engines except for racing in NASCAR. No one uses carburetors any more. It is all fuel injection except NASCAR and older racing series. Let’s face it. NASCAR designed the race cars and allows them to be built by auto manufacturers who then place their name on the cars they sponsor.

    Way back in the “dark ages” NASCAR used real stock cars. Then they allowed “safety” improvements. Someone found that the roll cage could be used to strengthen the frame (frames were separate items then) and that helped handling. Ford’s 9″ differential was the strongest so everyone used them. The design was carried over to the current cars, but the differential is built by an after market supplier with stronger materials than were ever in the ones used in the ’60’s and ’70’s. Fuel injection could reduce fuel consumption and increase power, but then NASCAR would have to find another way to slow the cars. I believe that the records that Bill Elliot set at Talledega (212.+) and Daytona (210.+) with his ’85 or ’86 Thunderbird still stand. Smaller engines and restrictor plates under the carburetors solved the speed problem even though the cars became smaller and more aerodynamic.

    Current major organization racing rules definitely kill innovation.

    NASCAR could fix this. Set the engine displacement limit to 4.0 liters rather than the current 5.7. Require that the stock design fuel system be used, although with different flow capacity injectors. Require that the showroom wheel geometry must be used within the service limits. Require showroom ride height less not more than 2 inches. Require the bodywork to be showroom stock. (Anyone else for Plymouth “Superbirds” and Ford “Torino Talladegas”?)

    I know. IT JUST AIN’T GONNA HAPPEN.

  • ChuckL

    Lutz is correct if one only considers current racing formulae or organizations. NASCAR, doesn’t even use what the manufacturers produce for sale.Ford and Toyota use overhead camshaft engines except for racing in NASCAR. No one uses carburetors any more. It is all fuel injection except NASCAR and older racing series. Let’s face it. NASCAR designed the race cars and allows them to be built by auto manufacturers who then place their name on the cars they sponsor.

    Way back in the “dark ages” NASCAR used real stock cars. Then they allowed “safety” improvements. Someone found that the roll cage could be used to strengthen the frame (frames were separate items then) and that helped handling. Ford’s 9″ differential was the strongest so everyone used them. The design was carried over to the current cars, but the differential is built by an after market supplier with stronger materials than were ever in the ones used in the ’60’s and ’70’s. Fuel injection could reduce fuel consumption and increase power, but then NASCAR would have to find another way to slow the cars. I believe that the records that Bill Elliot set at Talledega (212.+) and Daytona (210.+) with his ’85 or ’86 Thunderbird still stand. Smaller engines and restrictor plates under the carburetors solved the speed problem even though the cars became smaller and more aerodynamic.

    Current major organization racing rules definitely kill innovation.

    NASCAR could fix this. Set the engine displacement limit to 4.0 liters rather than the current 5.7. Require that the stock design fuel system be used, although with different flow capacity injectors. Require that the showroom wheel geometry must be used within the service limits. Require showroom ride height less not more than 2 inches. Require the bodywork to be showroom stock. (Anyone else for Plymouth “Superbirds” and Ford “Torino Talladegas”?)

    I know. IT JUST AIN’T GONNA HAPPEN.

  • jonnyCtigger

    It may assist the evolution of decreasing-emission engines by inventing a set of rules for a revived (and I think motor sport needs it) ‘Formula One’ based on minimising the use of fuel.

    …or, I would like to see, removing fuel altogether from F1 and concentrate on compressed air; there are so many different opportunities in The Environment to produce compressed air.

  • jonnyCtigger

    It may assist the evolution of decreasing-emission engines by inventing a set of rules for a revived (and I think motor sport needs it) ‘Formula One’ based on minimising the use of fuel.

    …or, I would like to see, removing fuel altogether from F1 and concentrate on compressed air; there are so many different opportunities in The Environment to produce compressed air.

  • Paul

    Pity Lutz is retiring. If he put his money where his mouth is and GM were keen to tip the cubic billions required to develop EV racing than I’m sure they could easily find teams and drivers. (even if the girls who drive F1 are already scared sh*tless of getting electricuted in their KERS cars). Of course, they’re broke!!BTW when has GM EVER been involved in F1 racing?

    There is a class for Hybrids at LeMans, are GM going to race the Volt there? LOL I doubt it.

  • Paul

    Pity Lutz is retiring. If he put his money where his mouth is and GM were keen to tip the cubic billions required to develop EV racing than I’m sure they could easily find teams and drivers. (even if the girls who drive F1 are already scared sh*tless of getting electricuted in their KERS cars). Of course, they’re broke!!BTW when has GM EVER been involved in F1 racing?

    There is a class for Hybrids at LeMans, are GM going to race the Volt there? LOL I doubt it.

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