Bob Lutz was interviewed on CNBC about the Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk, and the electric car industry. And as always, Maximum Bob did not disappoint with timid expectations. Nope, according to Lutz, the electric car future is on its away, and there is nothing you can do about it.
Lutz started off with praise for Elon Musk and Tesla, noting that Musk had delivered on all his promises. He also discussed the importance of range, stating that 300 miles per charge is necessary to alleviate range anxiety. “If you can charge an electric car in 15 to 20 minutes. At that point, who needs a gasoline engine?” asks Lutz. I agree, though I think that charge time is even more important to range anxiety than range itself, because, as long as the vehicle can charge quickly and conveniently, the driver can keep recharging and driving as long as they want to.
However, Maximum Bob also made a misleading point, which was that Tesla Motors “simply crammed” more batteries into their cars to achieve the range that they did and drove the cost of the cars up. The Tesla Model S has the longest range of any electric car, and its batteries occupy the least interior space, even less than that of the rest of the electric cars which have space issues.
This is because unlike GM or other major car makers, Tesla built an electric car from get-go. Cars like Lutz’s beloved Chevy Volt are based on compact cars like the Chevy Cruze, which forces the engineers to finagle an electric or plug-in hybrid drivetrain into a chassis designed for combustion engines.
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 cannot be a competition because Tesla Motors makes a completely different type and caliber of car from the rest of the car manufacturers. Lutz also throws a shoutout to VIA Motors, which he serves on the board for.
Ford and GM both offer electrically propelled vehicles, but they are lower-cost models intended for the masses. The Tesla Model S, starting at $62,500 after tax credits, can really only be afford by a very small segment of the population. Lutz says that he would be surprised if the total market for EVs hit 10% of the market by 2025, so right now the automakers aren’t too concerned with Tesla.
But Tesla is planning to introduce a much cheaper model by 2017 that could be had for $35,000 or even less. What will automakers do when a Tesla with mass affordability and appeal goes on sale? And as Lutz notes, the Model S is “beautiful” and the follow-up vehicle should look just as nice.
That said, Lutz is right when he says “…the electric car future is definitely coming.” There is no stopping it now. Watch the whole interview yourself and tell us what you think of Lutz’s answers.