Electric cars face a number of uphill battles, including managing weight while trying to add hundreds of pounds in batteries to give it a workable range. Never one to mince words, Bob Lutz has made it known that had he a second chance, he’d do things a lot differently when it comes to the Chevy Volt.
Lutz, in an interview with the UK’s AutoCar, says that looking back, it makes no sense to take a small, fuel-efficient car, and try to turn it into an EV. The Chevy Cruze, which the Chevy Volt and Opel Ampera are based on, can get up to 42 mpg on the highway, and a 50 mpg diesel version is on the horizon. There isn’t a lot of economic sense there, though the Volt and Ampera are among the best-selling plug-in cars in the world.
Had he a chance to at a do-over, Lutz says he would have started off using the range-extender technology in a gas guzzler like the Cadillac Escalade. The bigger the vehicle, the more economic sense the Voltec technology would make.
This is a fair assessment, no doubt, but Lutz also notes that people buying EVs are buying them based on philosophical or religious reasons. Even as a plug-in hybrid, would EV advocates really be willing to drive around a massive Cadillac Escalade? Nevermind the price would put it well out of reach of many buyers. With tax incentives, the Chevy Volt can be had for around $32,000, and the next-gen model is said to cost even less. An Escalade-Volt vehicle would probably be closer to $70,000 or $80,000.
While the Chevy Volt and Opel Ampera might not be making sales expectations, it is still the best-selling plug-in hybrid in the world. Lutz’s assessment might make more sense were he referring to pure-electric EVs, which have less room to work with and are particularly sensitive to weight. The Tesla Model S, a much larger EV than the Nissan Leaf, is arguably meeting with a better market reception. Elon Musk’s EV seems to have hit a pricing sweet spot, balancing luxury with range, cost, and performance. Most importantly though, the Tesla Model S is finally turning a profit.
GM doesn’t appear to have got the message though, as their next plug-in hybrid is the Cadillac ELR coupe, though a next-gen Escalade is almost certainly in the works…and it could be offered with a plug-in hybrid option, if GM wants it to.
Do you agree with Lutz’s assessment? Should the Volt have been a big Caddy instead? Or would that have turned buyers away?