Quote of the Day: GM Marketing Maven, Maximum Bob Lutz: "You're Going to Hear a Lot More From Others About the New EPA Procedures and How We Arrived at These Figures"

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

Holy shit, another GM website? I swear I’ve lost track of GM’s online PR blitz—and I do this for a living. Let’s see . . . GM, GMfactsandfiction, GMeuropefactsandfiction, The Lab, GMreinvention, GM-volt, tellfritz, Fastlane, GMblogs (both YouTube and Twitter), four new eBay California partner sites, and I’m sure there’s more. Well, there’s at least one more: Chevroletvoltage.com. And on this august (August?) website, GM Marketing Maven Maximum Bob Lutz is busy defending GM’s decision to announce that the Volt will get 230 mpg in city driving—deploying his usual combination of condescension, cheerleading, willful ignorance and prevarication.

If you haven’t heard, 230 is the estimated city fuel economy number for the Chevrolet Volt, as in 230 miles per gallon, according to new federal fuel economy procedures under development [italics added] by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for plug-in electric vehicles. And we anticipate a composite fuel economy rating of more than 100 mpg. The Volt’s estimated electricity usage is about 25 kilowatts per 100 miles, about half of what a typical household uses daily.

You’re going to hear a lot more from others about the new EPA procedures and how we arrived at these figures.

Oh no! Not “others!” Those damn, nay-saying, fun-spoiling, non-GM “others.” The “others” created the perception gap, you know. I HATE others. If you want proof that GM’s insularity makes the Great Wall of China look like a backyard fence, here it is.

Anyway, we have heard a lot about GM’s 230 mpg calculations, haven’t we? Not much of it along the lines of yes, that’s right, 230 mpg for the Chevrolet Volt in the EPA urban cycle. Absolutely. And we expect to hear a lot more about that number when the EPA devises an actual “fuel efficiency” standard for EVs and PHEVs AND when the Volt fails to achieve 230 mpg in any way meaningful to its [still theoretical] buyers.

Of this future irony Mr. Lutz is not unaware. (Surprisingly enough.) Hence Bob’s use of the word “but” in the next sentence.

But I will point out that, in the big picture, what this means is that Chevrolet is committed to seeing through the promise of Volt, and to building the cars that customers want and need. Volt is a bold step, a risk for both Chevy and GM. Our new corporate culture dictates that not only do we make bold moves, but also that we move quickly. And on Volt, we are absolutely moving as quickly as possible.

Bold moves, eh? Now where have I heard THAT before? And moving as quickly as possible means . . . moving as quickly as possible. Nothing more. Nothing less. Once again, on yet another website, Bob Lutz’s e-lips are moving, but he’s not saying anything. Well nothing particularly coherent, anyway.

And this is further proof. I’ve said before that Volt is like our moon shot, and I stand by that statement. It’s exactly like a moon shot, if the lunar landing module were getting 230 miles per gallon!

I could, of course, make some witty rejoinder. But I kinda like a comment underneath Mr. Lutz’s post, by Prophet1957:

The Saturn 5 rocket which sent the Astronauts to the moon [burned] approx 960,000 gallons of fuel. [It’s] 238,855 miles to the moon. Approx. 4 gallons per mile.

Anyone know how much fuel the actual lunar lander used and how many miles it traveled? Meanwhile, oy vey.

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • Dr. Remulac Dr. Remulac on Aug 14, 2009
    @ Dangerous Dave: I use this somewhat simple conversion to compare these electric vehicles to typical ice gasoline mpg: knowns: 1 kwhr = 3413 Btuh Assumptions: Volt: 100 miles per 25 kwhr (GM's stats) Average Power Plant: 33% efficient conversion from fuel to electricity. (Tesla's website likes to use the most advanced combined cycle natural gas power plant as their example, 50%+ efficient) 1 gallon gasoline = 115,000 btuh step 1, conversion of miles/kwhr to miles/btuh: 100 miles/25 kwhr x 1 kwhr/3413 btuh = .001172 miles/btuh step 2, conversion to miles gallon gas if electricity was produced by theoretical 100% efficient power plant: .001172 x 115,000 btuh/gallon gas = 135 miles/gallon gas if electric power plants were 100% efficient. step 3, conversion to equivalent mpg: Typical power plant efficiency (33%)x 135 miles/gallon = 44.5 mpg equivalent. Now change the power plant assumption to some different number and you get different results. Nuclear, wind, solar, etc... skews the results as well. In my mind, this is easy to follow and compare.
  • Rpn453 Rpn453 on Aug 16, 2009
    Lumbergh21 : And how much gas over those 100 miles? Don’t forget, the batteries will be depleted well before 100 miles is reached,a nd no matter how you are driving, that ICE will be up and running. I assumed he was talking about 100 miles of electric-only operation, over the period of a few days. What I also assumed, possibly incorrectly, is that the 25 kW-hr is what it takes to recharge the batteries. It's possible he's only including the power the electric motor would use and not the inefficiencies of the charging process.
  • Dave M. IMO this was the last of the solidly built MBs. Yes, they had the environmentally friendly disintegrating wiring harness, but besides that the mechanicals are pretty solid. I just bought my "forever" car (last new daily driver that'll ease me into retirement), but a 2015-16 E Class sedan is on my bucket list for future purchase. Beautiful design....
  • Rochester After years of self-driving being in the news, I still don't understand the psychology behind it. Not only don't I want this, but I find the idea absurd.
  • Douglas This timeframe of Mercedes has the self-disintegrating engine wiring harness. Not just the W124, but all of them from the early 90's. Only way to properly fix it is to replace it, which I understand to be difficult to find a new one/do it/pay for. Maybe others have actual experience with doing so and can give better hope. On top of that, it's a NH car with "a little bit of rust", which means to about anyone else in the USA it is probably the rustiest W124 they have ever seen. This is probably a $3000 car on a good day.
  • Formula m How many Hyundai and Kia’s do not have the original engine block it left the factory with 10yrs prior?
  • 1995 SC I will say that year 29 has been a little spendy on my car (Motor Mounts, Injectors and a Supercharger Service since it had to come off for the injectors, ABS Pump and the tool to cycle the valves to bleed the system, Front Calipers, rear pinion seal, transmission service with a new pan that has a drain, a gaggle of capacitors to fix the ride control module and a replacement amplifier for the stereo. Still needs an exhaust manifold gasket. The front end got serviced in year 28. On the plus side blank cassettes are increasingly easy to find so I have a solid collection of 90 minute playlists.