Volt Birth Watch 116: Mr Lutz Doesn't Go To Washington
Maximum Bob Lutz was not invited to grovel testify before congress this week, for all of the obvious reasons. So Lutz earned his champagne and cigars the honest way this week: driving cars and blogging about it at Fastlane. Of course, that doesn’t mean Lutz doesn’t have an opinion about the bailout. He’s just strictly forbidden from saying anything besides “I am not going to comment here about any government loans or hearings or GM’s financial situation — just like I wouldn’t engage you in conversation about it if I ran into you in the produce aisle.” Wheh. There goes one recurring nightmare. Besides, as Lutz points out “we have other places online for that conversation, such as gmfactsandfiction.com.” And if that’s not Lutzy enough for you, just wait until he starts talking about the Volt he’s been driving!
Bloggin’ Bob reveals that GM has “moved from the Volt test mules using previous-generation Malibu bodies (affectionately known as ‘MaliVolts’) to test vehicles using vehicles from our next-generation global compact car architecture.” Not bad, considering the thing is going to market in two years. So what’s it like to drive, Bob? “I have to say, after driving it with the Volt system placed within, I feel terrific about the driving dynamics of that architecture. It instantly feels several price classes higher than what it actually is, due to the level of refinement.” Several price classes higher than what, Mr Lutz? The Volt will cost $30-40k depending on government subsidies. So Volt buyers will be getting M5 “driving dynamics” for Lexus IS money? Or will all the Cruzes on that platform just be as good as the IS350? Confusing stuff.
But there’s just a little more weird news. Bob “couldn’t be more pleased” with the powertrain and propulsion system, even though GM still hasn’t officially selected a battery contractor. Besides, Lutz recounts “We started with about a 60-percent charge on the battery pack, to see how it would perform and when the engine would kick on. To my delight, we went about 19 silent, electrically powered miles before that engine engaged.” Given that the goal is 40 miles of all-electric driving, there’s clearly still some work to be done. Of course, Lutz acknowledges this. Sort of. “Right now, the engine is tuned rather aggressively so that once it did kick on, it tended to cut in and out quite a bit at low speeds. But we will find the right balance to address that — that’s why we’re doing all this development work!”
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