Old Man Lutz Gives Dealerships 20 Years to Live, Doubles Down on Driving Dystopia

Longtime auto executive Bob Lutz has always been an incredibly outspoken individual. His years of hard work have given him an insight into the industry that few possess, and he’s only become more willing to share that information as he ages. Like the industrious caterpillar, his ceaseless labor has allowed him to metamorphose into what is arguably his perfect form near the end of his lifecycle — a candid automotive butterfly.

We love hearing anything has to say, as his insight borders on the surreal, but with more than enough truth to come to pass. Last year, he divined a future where the car as we know it is destroyed by governmental regulation and advanced technologies. The dystopian plot seemed impossible upon a cursory glance, but the deeper you drive, the more plausible it begins to seem.

Lutz refocused this week at the SAE International WCX World Congress Experience in Detroit, saying the traditional dealer model will be among the first things to go in the brave new world of mobility. He called car dealerships an “endangered species,” suggesting to the crowd that it had “another 20 to 25 years before it’s all over.”

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Old Man Lutz Outlines the 'End of the Automobile Era'

Although semi-retired from the automotive industry, Bob Lutz still has his fingers in a lot of pies and continues to provide insight into the vehicular world as he sees it through veteran eyes. I never miss an opportunity to read what he’s got to say about the industry because he provides unusually frank insight paired with borderline ludicrous sensationalism that’s too juicy to ignore.

That doesn’t mean he’s wrong, especially since one of his more recent claims about the financial inviability of Tesla Motors has started to seem particularly astute. But a lot of his premonitions haven’t had the time necessary to come to pass, leaving us to speculate if he’s an automotive sage or just an old crank. He routinely weighs in on the industry to offer entertaining doomsday scenarios — and his newest one is the bleakest yet.

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Tesla Teases a Big Rig; Musk Wants Your Car to Go Sledding

Break out the acai berry juice — there’s another futuristic transportation vision emerging from the fevered mind of Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

During a TED talk in Vancouver on Friday, Musk teased an image of his company’s upcoming electric big rig. The vehicle, scheduled for a September reveal, isn’t the only truck bound for Tesla showrooms — the automaker expects to debut a pickup in the next 18 to 24 months.

While we’ve known about the impending semi truck for some time, Musk also choose Friday to drop a video showing what he feels is the Next Big Thing in efficient transportation: underground electric sleds for your car.

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The Sports Car Market Will Be Atrocious After the Baby Boomers Die

Baby Boomers are getting too old for traditional sports cars. Their purchasing power may have ushered in the initial success of the muscle car (as well as its resurrection), but no 70-plus-year-old wants to obliterate their pelvis crawling into a low-slung coupe or have its rock-hard suspension rattle the dentures out of their mouth.

That leaves the younger generations to champion the sports car going forward, and — I am very sad to say — they will not be up to the task.

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TTAC News Round-up: Tesla Range Rumors Fly, Lada Needs a Miracle, and Nissan Dreams Big

Is Tesla planning a Model S update that squeaks past 300 miles of range?

That, a savior is needed at Lada’s parent company, Nissan wants your future car to be everything, Ford goes all in down under, and pedestrians and cars are meeting frequently … after the break!

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Automotive Supplier Prognosticator Predicts Demise of the Steering Wheel by 2025

Be afraid. Be very afraid. If the aspirations of one automotive supplier come to pass, your child’s first car will not have a steering wheel come 2025, rendering her or him nothing more than a mere passenger inside a tiny commuter pod.

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The 50 Million Car Market: China's Boom Will Last More Than 20 Years, Experts Predict

If you are hoping that the Chinese bubble will burst in no time, putting China back on bicycles, then this story is not for you. If you are worried about little people in Asia using up all the precious hydrocarbons we use for our bigger cars, then we must warn you that reading further could be hazardous to your circulatory system. You have been warned.

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  • Islander800 That is the best 20-year-on update of the Honda Element that I've ever seen. Strip out the extraneous modern electronic crap that adds tens of thousands to the price and the completely unnecessary 400 pd/ft torque and horse power, and you have a 2022 Honda Element - right down to the neoprene interior "elements" of the Element - minus the very useful rear-hinged rear doors. The proportions and dimensions are identical.Call me biased, but I still drive my west coast 2004 Element, at 65K miles. Properly maintained, it will last another 20 years....Great job, Range Rover!
  • Dennis Howerton Nice article, Corey. Makes me wish I had bought Festivas when they were being produced. Kia made them until the line was discontinued, but Kia evidently used some of the technology to make the Rio. Pictures of the interior look a lot like my Rio's interior, and the 1.5 liter engine is from Mazda while Ford made the automatic transmission in the used 2002 Rio I've been driving since 2006. I might add the Rio is also an excellent subcompact people mover.
  • Sgeffe Bronco looks with JLR “reliability!”What’s not to like?!
  • FreedMike Back in the '70s, the one thing keeping consumers from buying more Datsuns was styling - these guys were bringing over some of the ugliest product imaginable. Remember the F10? As hard as I try to blot that rolling aberration from my memory, it comes back. So the name change to Nissan made sense, and happened right as they started bringing over good-looking product (like the Maxima that will be featured in this series). They made a pretty clean break.
  • Flowerplough Liability - Autonomous vehicles must be programmed to make life-ending decisions, and who wants to risk that? Hit the moose or dive into the steep grassy ditch? Ram the sudden pile up that is occurring mere feet in front of the bumper or scan the oncoming lane and swing left? Ram the rogue machine that suddenly swung into my lane, head on, or hop up onto the sidewalk and maybe bump a pedestrian? With no driver involved, Ford/Volkswagen or GM or whomever will bear full responsibility and, in America, be ambulance-chaser sued into bankruptcy and extinction in well under a decade. Or maybe the yuge corporations will get special, good-faith, immunity laws, nation-wide? Yeah, that's the ticket.