Bob Lutz Bashes Tesla Model X, Disses Electric Car Market


Bob Lutz is never one to keep his opinions to himself. In a recent interview on CNBC, he had a lot to say on a variety of subjects, beginning with the Tesla Model X.  “The Model X appears to be unbuildable with those automatic gull-wing doors, which everyone in the industry always said were not going to work,” Lutz offered. The Model X was delayed almost two years while Tesla engineers struggled to overcome technical difficulties with the falcon wing doors, self presenting front doors, and panoramic windshield.

Bob Lutz speaks

At the time the Model X was finally revealed to the public, Musk said,  “I’m not sure anyone should have made this car,” according to Business Insider. “We probably should have just [modified the Model S],” he added. “There are so many more features and difficult to build parts on [the Model X] than it is necessary for us to sell the cars.” He claimed prior to the launch that the Model X was “the most difficult vehicle to build in the world.”

Lutz was also highly critical of Tesla’s business model in general. “Tesla’s business model is upside down…their costs have always been higher than their revenue,” said Lutz. “They always have to get more capital, then they burn through it.”

If Lutz was down on Tesla, he was doubly down on the business case for electric cars in general. “[T]he business has always been lousy. Now, it’s super lousy because the generic demand for electric vehicles is down. And here’s why this is going to kill Tesla: whether there’s consumer demand for electric vehicles out there or not, the major OEMs like Ford, GM, Toyota, Volkswagen, they have to build electric cars — a certain number — in order to satisfy the requirements in about half of the states. Those have to be jammed into the marketplace, otherwise they can no longer sell SUVs and full-size pickups and the stuff they really make money on. That is going to generically depress the prices of electric vehicles,” he said.

Lutz went on to say, “Look at the new GM Chevy Bolt, which after federal incentives costs roughly $30,000. GM is not going to make money on that. But the majors are going to accept the losses on the electric vehicles as a necessary cost of doing business in order to sell the big gasoline stuff.”

Tesla stock is down more than 30% since the first of the year. Will investors be encouraged when the company reports its 4th quarter earnings on February 10? We will be sure to let you know.



About the Author

I have been a car nut since the days when Rob Walker and Henry N. Manney, III graced the pages of Road & Track. Today, I use my trusty Miata for TSD rallies and occasional track days at Lime Rock and Watkins Glen. If it moves on wheels, I'm interested in it. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.
  • AaronD12

    Did somebody forget his Geritol? Or did someone replace it with Damitol? Talk about being a crotchety old man!

    Yes, the Model X is a very complex machine. Being called “the most difficult car to build in the world” is a compliment, and a testament that Tesla can actually build it. Could GM build this? Yes, but their management and shareholders wouldn’t allow it.

    If GM isn’t going to make money on the Bolt, they’re doing it wrong. Especially with the $145/kWh price on the battery. $8700 for the battery, leaving $21,300 for the rest of the vehicle. They can make money on this.

    • Steve Hanley

      Lutz is Nutz is a popular refrain among auto journalists. : – )

    • Rick Danger

      “Could GM build this?”
      Hell no they couldn’t. Their Falcon Wing doors would work about a dozen times before they crapped out.
      Look at all the screw ups GM has had in their “illustrious” history. They couldn’t even build *engines* that would last, much less any kind of trick door. They are lucky they are still in business, and they wouldn’t be if not for the taxpayers bailing their butts out of the sling.
      Bob Lutz needs to STFU and go take his nap. Go home Bob and watch the seas rise at your Florida Keys home.
      BTW, Bob, which do you think will still be around in 10 years, Cadillac or Tesla? One is struggling to grow fast enough to meet demand, the other is just struggling.

      • AaronD12

        Okay, in THEORY, GM could build something with Falcon doors. The level of problems Tesla is having with their doors would be multiplied by 10 with GM producing them… and they would randomly fall and behead someone when someone jiggles the ignition switch. 😉

      • tina

        I object! The 235 was one of the best and longest lasting gas motor ever built. However that was BEFORE Lutz. If it wasn’t for corporate welfare and taxpayers hard earned cash, there would be no GM today. No pension for Lutz either. Give the guy some lemons, copper & zinc nails and a multimeter, time to re-think the paradigm!

  • Otis11

    Why? Why does anyone bother to report Lutz’s opinion anymore? He’s full of it.

    …And why the heck did I bother to read it?

    • El Prasito

      I personally read this article so I could read all the funny (meaning “bashing”) comments — way more entertaining than what Lutz has to say… *LOL*

      • Otis11

        I mean, I get that to a point… but if we take away his podium then we stop the currently-ceaseless spread of FUD that comes from his mouth…

        • El Prasito

          Objection, Your Honor! Lutz doesn’t need a podium to spread FUD! The latter is going to come out either way, whether he’s on a podium, in a bathtub, during lunch… doesn’t matter! Only a pillow over his head will stop this! *ROFL*

          Hard to believe that he’s considered the Father of the Volt — maybe the “dark” Father: ” Volt, I am your father!” *hahaha*

          (This thread turned out to be funnier than I thought!) 😀

  • Ram

    Aeroplanes are very easy to make and thats why they revolutionised the way we travel.

  • Bob Lutz bought into Fisker after it went chapter 11 and thinks by converting leftover karmas with corvette drive trains is the way to go. Bob good luck with that high production run. Tesla will not die so stop circling like a vulture.

  • UBetURSweetArse

    F Bob Lutz! Sounds like ENVY to me…..
    ..and talk about a non-sustainable business model? If the US Taxper had not bailed out GM,, they would be out of business!!!!!
    That is definately the pot calling the kettle black!

  • Jacob

    Is that photo old?

    I mean the prototype looks horrid.

    • Rick Danger

      Yes, that is the original Volt concept car. It was horribly un-aerodynamic, so much so that it was said that it had better aerodynamics driven backward than forward. More of that GM “Mark of Excellence”

      • Jacob

        Lol ha ha ha backwards!

    • Steve Hanley

      Yeah, That was a prototype of the Volt from years ago.

  • VazzedUp

    Isn’t this the same man who is trying to sell EV trucks through Via Motors?

    • Steve Hanley

      The very same.

  • Jim Seko

    I used to have respect for maximum bob

  • James

    Forgive Bob. He is old school
    – GM outsources everything except the body and ICE engines (whoops) so they forgo the profit on everything else. But Tesla, that does almost everything in-house, has a 20% plus gross profit margin.
    – Bob claimed that the Model S would never make it to market
    – Bob thinks that three powered doors on a Tesla is worse than one powered door that has been around for decades on minivans.
    – And perhaps the most important thing about Bob is that he thinks that global warming is “a total crock of sh%* ” and bought a condo in the Florida Keys around 2011

    I hope that he has a fast boat.

  • your post is very informatic, it is very useful for me thanking you..

  • MorinMoss

    How many has been sold? The company is 6 years old; have they reached 1000 in total sales?
    And where’s the Destino??

    • Eco Logical

      They’re selling everything they can make, the Model S is up to 1,000 PER WEEK and the X will be at 1,000 per week by mid-2016 (certain suppliers are the bottleneck). That means the capacity will be 100,000 high priced luxury vehicles per year and they’ve got a waiting list!!! Not bad for a 6 year old startup. The other luxury automakers (BMW, Mercedes, etc.) are in panic mode. And then there’s the Model 3 … expected to make 500,000 per year by 2020 and already have many people wanting to get on the waiting list but they’ll have to wait until March 31st…

      • MorinMoss

        I was referring to Via Motors, not Tesla.

  • Actually he’s wrong the demand for pure electric cars are actually up in the US and abroad. Where he gets his numbers are when you include the Volt and Leaf where their sales dropped 15% and 40% due to model year change. Both Nissan and Chevy announced a year in advance that they were redesigning these cars for 2016.

  • Yea, so. #1 huge demand for Model 3. Guess how popular the Bolt will be? if they sell 10% of Model 3s (their competitor) I would be shocked. And GM isn’t making a profit off them? Wow, I guess the EV industry is different than the Auto industry, in which case the Auto industry has begun it’s decline, and that’s you Bob… though you’ll be long gone and rich, and completely wrong. Too bad these dinosaur companies keep doing business like its 1965.