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Bob Lutz on Chevy Volt Production and Demand


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Bob Lutz on Chevy Volt Production and Demand

Posted by Lyle in: Original GM-Volt Interviews, Production, Public Opinion with 138 Comments Share:

In this segment I discuss with outgoing GM vice chairman Bob Lutz the topic of Chevy Volt production volumes and expected consumer demand.

You said the volume in the first year of the Volt will be 8000 and many of us fans want to get the country off the oil, and Nissan says they’re going to build 100,000 Leafs. What makes you choose that modest volume?

Its just a ramp up and getting comfortable with the lithium ion battery pack that we’re producing, getting comfortable with the production process and taking it slow to guarantee absolutely perfect quality.

The first model year which will be sort of roughly from December though July or August will be four to five thousand and then again that many in the second half of ’11. And then starting in ’12 that’s when we’ll really crank it up.

My guess is the initial demand for the vehicle will be so high that we will decide to expand capacity as fast as we can and as much as we can. The studies for this are starting, but we have to actually wait until the vehicle is on sale to see what the true world-wide demand is. But right now our production is being laid out for fifty to sixty thousand a year once we’re in full swing which will be the calendar year 2012.

I believe that’s at least fifty percent too low. I believe the true word-wide demand is more like one hundred to one hundred twenty thousand and that may not be enough.

It certainly seems that way to me too but what do I know?

Well but you and I are both doing the same thing, we’re reacting to our gut whereas the official volume estimators look at the size of the car and then they look at the relatively high price for a car that size and they say not many people are going to be willing to pay that much for a car that small just to save a little gasoline.

I say if you look at it that way, you’re right. But we don’t buy cars for rational reasons alone. If we bought cars for just rational reasons there would be no Porsche Motor Company. We wouldn’t sell a single Corvette, and the Chevrolet Camaro would be a non starter because they’re both stupid cars because you can’t put a lot of people in them.

And its the same thing with something like the Volt. The Volt will be bought partly for rational reasons but at $2.80 gasoline you’ll probably never really get your money back from the fuel savings but that’s not why people buy it. People are going to buy this car because it’s the coolest technology on the planet.

Frankly to me its way sexier than a pure electric.

Do you see the early adopters more that they are interested in the technology? How large do you think the early adopter crowd will be and how many types of people do you think they are?

I think it’s going to be larger than we think.

I think every politician in the country and in most other countries is going to want one, and don’t forget, this is destined to be a global car. The Volt is designed to meet the regulatory requirements of every major nation in the world. It will be available in left hand drive and right hand drive and in terms of lighting and exterior protrusions, pedestrian protection, all of that. It meets every known regulation in every country. The way it is built in Hamtramck, it can be shipped anywhere. So you’re looking at not only at US demand but you’re potentially looking at the global demand including now the world’s largest and the world’s richest automobile market called China.

Its going to be exported to China and it will be available in Australia as a Holden, in Europe as the Opel Ampera. So when you put this worldwide demand together, it’s going to be a lot of cars. As I say everybody who is in show business is going to want one. It s going to completely displace the Toyota Prius as the vehicle of choice in Hollywood. I think every state governor is going to want one too.

There’s just an enourmous latent demand for vehicles of this type.



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