Volt Birth Watch 116: Mr Lutz Doesn't Go To Washington

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

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!”

Edward Niedermeyer
Edward Niedermeyer

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  • KixStart KixStart on Nov 22, 2008

    Droid800, That's not how I remember it. Of course, I could be remembering wrong. That's one of the pitfalls of having your PR get w-a-a-a-y ahead of your actual development.

  • Droid800 Droid800 on Nov 23, 2008

    Kixstart- They probably were going to make it at LA, and you know how that turned out. Right now GM corporate is going to try and bury any good news to make their situation look dire. That would definitely include any news about the Volt advancing. I'd wager that when they return to DC after Thanksgiving that GM will give up the goods and announce a supplier. (of course, that will be accompanied by an extended hand asking for cash)

  • Ajla As a single vehicle household with access to an available 120v plug a PHEV works about perfectly. My driving is either under 40 miles or over 275 miles. The annual insurance difference between two car (a $20K ev and $20K ICE) and single car ($40K PHEV) would equal about 8 years of Prius Prime oil changes.
  • Ronin Let's see the actuals first, then we can decide using science.What has been the effect of auto pollution levels since the 70s when pollution control devices were first introduced? Since the 80s when they were increased?How much has auto pollution specifically been reduced since the introduction of hybrid vehicles? Of e-vehicles?We should well be able to measure the benefits by now, by category of engine. We shouldn't have to continue to just guess the benefits. And if we can't specifically and in detail measure the benefits by now, it should make a rational person wonder if there really are any real world benefits.
  • TheEndlessEnigma Simply put, I like it.
  • TheEndlessEnigma Ah GM, never stop being you. GM is working hard to make FIAT look good.
  • TheEndlessEnigma Top Gear of the 2000's was a fresh concept and very well done. Sadly to say there isn't a TV show concept that doesn't eventually exhaust fresh ideas and, as a result, begins to rehash and wear out once were fresh ideas. The show eventually becomes a pale imitation of itself, then begins to embarrass itself, it will get to a point where it jumps the shark. Top Gear began to get stale, the Clarkson, Hammond and May left and the formula failed - surprise! the presenters were part of the magic. Fast forward many years and Grand Tower is trying hard to be Top Gear but it's all very obviously scripted (it always was by felt spontaneous in its original form), Clarkson, Hammond and May are much older, tired and have become caricatures of themselves. Guys, just stop. You should have stopped 10 years ago. Now you're just screwing with your reputations and legacies.