CSpec

Lutz Loves His First Volt "Test Drive"

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It was a beautiful sunny day at GM's proving ground in Milford, Michigan in mid-May when GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz invited me to watch him test the E-Flex system behind the new Chevy Volt. Given the enthusiasm surrounding the Volt, I jumped at the opportunity. Would E-Flex deliver on the promise that's been built up surrounding GM's electric car? The answer: Yes.

We taped Bob driving the Volt E-Flex system for our CNBC documentary "Saving GM" which airs tomorrow night. The Volt's "guts" were in a Chevy Malibu "mule" car for the Lutz run. We didn't care. We wanted to see for ourselves how the Volt's battery-powered engine ran. Lutz was only supposed to do a lap at the Milford proving ground. But he loved the experience and performance so much, he kept going, and going. With our cameras mounted in the car, he showed the pleasure of driving a car where the acceleration was smooth and the only thing he could hear was wind noise because the electric drive train is so quiet.

After Lutz finished his ride he talked about this being the most exciting test drive of his career. I can see why. If the Volt delivers the performance that GM is promising, it WILL be a revolutionary vehicle. But there are still many hurdles to overcome before we see the Volt in showrooms in late 2010. When we met with GM engineer's at the Volt lab, they showed a quiet confidence that they will be able to conquer the challenges facing the Volt.

Tomorrow night on "Saving GM" you can see Bob's test drive, and the latest on GM's hopes for the Volt. Judge for yourself if you think this electric car will be the "electrifying" game changer GM needs.

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Anyne else notice how he used to love the Camaro now never talks about it?

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Well in all fairness DF, the Chevy Volt will be the savior for GM during this bleak economic downtime, not the Camaro. Remember that GM pays his bills and he will say (to an extent) what his "boss" tells him to say. GM needs the vault badly, and him saying anything negative (or not-so-positive) right now about GM's green movement could be detrimental.

CSpec, thanks for posting this reminder. I totally forgot about tomorrow night's presentation! :stupid:

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So... if the "e-flex" system can be installed in a Malibu... why can't it be sold in... uh.... a Malibu?

Even if it meant 30 mile electric only range instead of 40 mile electric only, I'd prefer to buy a more conventional looking car.

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So... if the "e-flex" system can be installed in a Malibu... why can't it be sold in... uh.... a Malibu?

Even if it meant 30 mile electric only range instead of 40 mile electric only, I'd prefer to buy a more conventional looking car.

Well it was just a mangled Malibu body on the prototype, they do that all the time on early versions to test the guts of it. And for all we know the Volt does look perfectly conventional.

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So... if the "e-flex" system can be installed in a Malibu... why can't it be sold in... uh.... a Malibu?

Even if it meant 30 mile electric only range instead of 40 mile electric only, I'd prefer to buy a more conventional looking car.

To succeed, the Volt has be futuristic and non-mainstream....it has to be distinctive, like the Prius. The hybrid Camry doesn't sell as well as the Prius, for example. Early adopters want a car that looks futuristic and like an electric car rather than yet another rental. I hope the Volt does look distinct and not be just another GM FWD rental car.

Edited by moltar
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It was a beautiful sunny day at GM's proving ground in Milford, Michigan in mid-May when GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz invited me to watch him test the E-Flex system behind the new Chevy Volt. Given the enthusiasm surrounding the Volt, I jumped at the opportunity. Would E-Flex deliver on the promise that's been built up surrounding GM's electric car? The answer: Yes.

We taped Bob driving the Volt E-Flex system for our CNBC documentary "Saving GM" which airs tomorrow night. The Volt's "guts" were in a Chevy Malibu "mule" car for the Lutz run. We didn't care. We wanted to see for ourselves how the Volt's battery-powered engine ran. Lutz was only supposed to do a lap at the Milford proving ground. But he loved the experience and performance so much, he kept going, and going -which was in no way part of the plan. With our cameras mounted in the car, he showed the pleasure of driving a car where the acceleration was smooth and the only thing he could hear was wind noise because the electric drive train is so quiet.

After Lutz finished his ride he talked about this being the most exciting test drive of his career. I can see why. If the Volt delivers the performance that GM is promising, it WILL be a revolutionary vehicle. But there are still many hurdles to overcome before we see the Volt in showrooms in late 2010. When we met with GM engineer's at the Volt lab, they showed a quiet confidence that they will be able to conquer the challenges facing the Volt.

Tomorrow night on "Saving GM" you can see Bob's test drive, and the latest on GM's hopes for the Volt. Judge for yourself if you think this electric car will be the "electrifying" game changer GM needs.

Rofl. Well if this isn't about ridiculous.

Putting this into context, suppose Toyota CEO Watanabe test drove the next Prius and allowed some reporters to film it, then afterwards stated it was the most exciting test drive of his career. Would we not all laugh hysterically?

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He better like it. It is not my kind of car but it will be good for Bobs paycheck and GM's Image so what is not to like. Even if it was slower than my 1977 Bonneville with a 301ci. V8.

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Rofl. Well if this isn't about ridiculous.

Putting this into context, suppose Toyota CEO Watanabe test drove the next Prius and allowed some reporters to film it, then afterwards stated it was the most exciting test drive of his career. Would we not all laugh hysterically?

:withstupid: I totally agree! Kind of like believing ANYTHING that ANY politician says during an election cycle...oh wait - EVER!

Still I find myself excited about this car. Hope it comes out before I reach 45 years old. That gives them 9 years.

Not trying to hijack the thread, but I actually will admit that I find the next gen Prius that I saw in a mag this weekend - sort of attractive (compared to the current joke on wheels) :duck:

Edited by toesuf94
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Rofl. Well if this isn't about ridiculous.

Putting this into context, suppose Toyota CEO Watanabe test drove the next Prius and allowed some reporters to film it, then afterwards stated it was the most exciting test drive of his career. Would we not all laugh hysterically?

The PR-Saga continues.

Add it the following impressive PR stunts:

1) GMTruckGuy74 said the "...Chevy Volt will be the savior for GM during this bleak economic downtime...". This is a common sentiment. Why are so few questioning how a money-losing-niche product that will likely remain that way until at least 7 years from now (as per GM itself) is going to save GM from the current economic downturn?

2) Why is charging a battery with house electricity or a small gas engine and then using that battery to drive an electric motor is equivalent to a "moon shot"?

3) How did GM apparently manage to technologically leapfrog every other manufacturer by simply talking about the trivial process in point 2?

4) Further to point 3, if the only reason no one else is doing it is because it generally makes little sense and is uneconomical, why does that make GM brilliant for doing it?

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We've already ordered that crow for your lunch on reveal day, GXT.

This car will happen, have no doubt. And it will change things for GM in a large way.

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The PR-Saga continues.

Add it the following impressive PR stunts:

1) GMTruckGuy74 said the "...Chevy Volt will be the savior for GM during this bleak economic downtime...". This is a common sentiment. Why are so few questioning how a money-losing-niche product that will likely remain that way until at least 7 years from now (as per GM itself) is going to save GM from the current economic downturn?

2) Why is charging a battery with house electricity or a small gas engine and then using that battery to drive an electric motor is equivalent to a "moon shot"?

3) How did GM apparently manage to technologically leapfrog every other manufacturer by simply talking about the trivial process in point 2?

4) Further to point 3, if the only reason no one else is doing it is because it generally makes little sense and is uneconomical, why does that make GM brilliant for doing it?

1. The same way Toyota gets called a "green" company for building the Pruis. People often buy Toyotas for fuel efficiency even if it's the Tundra.... which isn't the most efficient in it's class.

2. To do it in a way that will offer 40 miles of electric only but have "acceptable" acceleration for the average, fat assed, American is a moonshot. Remember, people call the 6 seconds to 60 in the CTS "sloth like".

3. The concept is simple, the execution is not. GM has been building ICE/Electric hybrids since 1941, just not for cars.

4. Who said no one else is doing it? BMW is supposedly considering a similar set up for the Mini and the next Pruis is supposed to be fairly close in concept.

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Honestly I agree people buy the Tundra because its a Toyo so it gets good fuel economy, what a joke. If you want the best fullsize truck for economy a Silverado with the 5.3L 315-320hp is hard to beat.

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Anyne else notice how he used to love the Camaro now never talks about it?

He's too busy buying unsold Durangos to be melted and rolled into Camaro sheet-metal.

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So... did anyone watch this? It was very interesting I thought. I couldn't believe the access CNBC was given. I appreciated Lutz's honesty when asked about the Aztek: "Yes, it's ugly, there's no other word for it."

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I saw it, the old commercials they kept showing after each commercial were awesome, the whole program had an overall positive feel to it. Maybe after watching it more people will believe tht GM can pull this turnaround off.

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So... did anyone watch this? It was very interesting I thought. I couldn't believe the access CNBC was given. I appreciated Lutz's honesty when asked about the Aztek: "Yes, it's ugly, there's no other word for it."

That's what I like about Lutz... blunt and to the point. Unfortunatly I missed the show, didn't remember it until after it was over. I hope they re-air it soon.

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I found it interesting.

For those who missed it, some of the clips are up on the CNBC website: Link

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Its on again tonight at 10 ET 9 CT on CNBC again. So if you missed it like me because of a power outage I will catch it tonight. Next airing is August 31st.

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We've already ordered that crow for your lunch on reveal day, GXT.

This car will happen, have no doubt. And it will change things for GM in a large way.

Eventually. You forgot to add the most important word. Eventually.

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We've already ordered that crow for your lunch on reveal day, GXT.

This car will happen, have no doubt. And it will change things for GM in a large way.

Looking forward to it.

"Yet another mistake" isn't really a big change for GM. To be clear, I am saying that even if they do bring this car to market, it is a mistake. The only change it will make for GM is to have distracted them from doing something meaningful NOW.

Cost and range make the Volt a poor solution for vast majority of buyers. The stats continue to get watered down, the cost is going up, and the mass availability is being pushed back. A widely available sub 30K car with a true 40 miles of electric range and 50MPG on gas in 2010 is a good offering. 10,000 units in 2011 (hopefully!) of a $40,000+ car that gets 30-40 miles of electric range and sub-Prius MPG on fuel isn't. By the time this kind of technology is cheap enough to be meaningful GM will be an also-ran in a crowded market.

Please refer to:

Mitsubishi: miles ahead of the Volt.

Ford: Already ahead of the Volt with plug-in Li-Ion prototypes driving around, but correctly determined now is not the right time.

Toyota: Google is already getting 90+ MPG from their fleet of Li-Ion Priuses which involve an ~$10,000 (IIRC) battery add-on.

Honda: Already leasing in limited quantities a Hyrdogen powered electric vehicle with a Li-ion battery.

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Looking forward to it.

"Yet another mistake" isn't really a big change for GM. To be clear, I am saying that even if they do bring this car to market, it is a mistake. The only change it will make for GM is to have distracted them from doing something meaningful NOW.

Cost and range make the Volt a poor solution for vast majority of buyers. The stats continue to get watered down, the cost is going up, and the mass availability is being pushed back. A widely available sub 30K car with a true 40 miles of electric range and 50MPG on gas in 2010 is a good offering. 10,000 units in 2011 (hopefully!) of a $40,000+ car that gets 30-40 miles of electric range and sub-Prius MPG on fuel isn't. By the time this kind of technology is cheap enough to be meaningful GM will be an also-ran in a crowded market.

Please refer to:

Mitsubishi: miles ahead of the Volt.

Ford: Already ahead of the Volt with plug-in Li-Ion prototypes driving around, but correctly determined now is not the right time.

Toyota: Google is already getting 90+ MPG from their fleet of Li-Ion Priuses which involve an ~$10,000 (IIRC) battery add-on.

Honda: Already leasing in limited quantities a Hyrdogen powered electric vehicle with a Li-ion battery.

The Prius is a poor solution for vast majority of buyers, even for most of the people that bought one. Like I noted in another post, they could've bought a Cobalt for half the money, and would've taken 20 years to recoupe the cost difference... and that's driving 20k miles a year! But that's shot out of the water because in 20yrs you be replaceing the Prius's batteries more than once.

Mitsu has nothing in the US

Ford has vague proto's, no production ready proto's. Specifically the reason why that want to team up with GM on the production and research of the Volts Li-Ion battery pack.

Another 10k in a dull Prius will put you at the Volt's price, which is bound to come down.

GM has had 100 Hydrogen Equinox' out driving around for the past couple years

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The Prius is a poor solution for vast majority of buyers, even for most of the people that bought one. Like I noted in another post, they could've bought a Cobalt for half the money, and would've taken 20 years to recoupe the cost difference... and that's driving 20k miles a year! But that's shot out of the water because in 20yrs you be replaceing the Prius's batteries more than once.

In general I agree with you. However I would like to see your stats on the Cobalt VS Prius. It isn't for everyone, but for many people it is much better than you are implying. A base (LS 1LS) cobalt is currently 13,570 with offers. A base Prius is 22,220. That is a difference of $8,650. If you are a city driver that does 12,000 miles/year (~32miles/day), then the prius at 45 MPG (seems reasonable based on what reasonable people are reporting) uses 266.66 gallons. The cobalt at 24 MPG uses 500 gallons. At $4/gallon that is a savings of $933/year. That is a payback period of just over 9 years.

If you want to compare to the volt, let's assume 40 miles/day as it is the optimal distance for the volt. That would be $3.55/day in gas for the Prius, $6.66/day in gas for the Cobalt, and ~$1/day in electricity for the Volt. That would be $1,295/year for the Prius, $2,430 for the Cobalt, and $365/year for the Volt. Assume $40,000 sticker for the Volt. Compared to the baseline Cobalt, it will take 7.6 years for the Prius to pay for itself and 12.8 for the Volt. As you yourself attempted to point out with the Prius, 12.8 years is longer than the 10 year life expectancy of the Volt's batteries, so technically it would never pay for itself.

What if you drive only 20 miles per day? Then the Volt has a 25.6 year payback over the Cobalt (15.2 for the Prius).

Also, if you option out the Cobalt to match the Prius (i.e. anti-lock brakes, auto trans, etc.) then it is more like a 16K car in which case the the Prius payback is less than 6 years.

Mitsu has nothing in the US

Ford has vague proto's, no production ready proto's. Specifically the reason why that want to team up with GM on the production and research of the Volts Li-Ion battery pack.

Another 10k in a dull Prius will put you at the Volt's price, which is bound to come down.

GM has had 100 Hydrogen Equinox' out driving around for the past couple years

Ford has more than vague photos. They had actual vehicles on the road at the end of 2007 (http://www.greenlivingonline.com/GettingAround/ford-unveils-a-new-plug-in-hybrid/)

$10,000+ to a Prius is $32,000 TODAY. A Volt in 2011 is apparently going to be $40,000+.

From what I can see the Project Driveway Chevy Equinox were announced Sept 2006 (http://www.autoblog.com/2006/09/18/project-driveway-gm-launches-largest-ever-fuel-cell-fleet/) but didn't actually make it into the hands of drivers until 2008 (http://www.hydrogencarsnow.com/chevy-equinox-fuel-cell-suv.htm).

GM's Hydrgoen Equinox's have not been "around for the past couple of years". Nor is GM's current hydrogen state comparable to Honda's FCX Clarity. But the Project Driveway vs Honda Clarity does give some insight into how the companies operate (quietly working to deliver product vs PR and delays). Take note as the Volt continues to slide and get watered down.

Edited by GXT
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I was looking for a post about the show the night I watched it. Can the title be changed to reflect it being about the show?

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