Sometimes the glass is half empty, sometimes it's half full.
For the future of electric cars, count Bob Lutz on the half-full side--most likely containing a very nice Scotch.
Lutz is not only the former GM product development czar, but the man who pushed through the Chevrolet Volt range-extended electric car that launched two years ago this month
Yesterday, Lutz weighed in on nay-saying about electric cars in a Forbes opinion piece titled, What's Gone Wrong With the Electric Vehicle Market? Nothing.
His third paragraph unloads both barrels:
Fond near-term visions of millions of EVs plying the nation’s highways while sales of “antiquated” gasoline cars languish have been replaced by the facts of low fuel prices, abundant oil supply, high EV prices, dire straits for EV startups like Fisker and Coda, and even outright Chapter 11 for A123, the U.S. government’s high-tech battery company and showcase for the Department of Energy’s efforts in the “clean fuels” arena.
But, Lutz suggests, despite all this, things are fine:
The electric vehicle market is moving exactly as I have consistently predicted.
He goes on to note that battery-electric vehicles ("pure EVs") will have a very limited market until consumers can buy, for $30,000, a battery-electric vehicle with a 300-mile range.
At the moment, the Tesla Model S version with a 265-mile range costs more than twice that amount: $79,900 before incentives.
Surprisingly, he doesn't follow that up with a nod to the Volt--which, of course, has a range-extending gasoline engine to avert range anxiety.
The Chevy Volt has become the best-selling plug-in car in the U.S., with its sales this year likely to be triple those of 2011.
Perhaps most surprising, Lutz says that, "Ultimately, of course, the world will be populated by EVs only, and I make that prediction frequently."
It's that "ultimately," he says, that most people don't hear.
This is a slow process, he suggests, and the evolution toward plug-in vehicles will take decades, not just years.
2011 Chevrolet Volt plugged into Coulomb Technologies 240V wall charging unit
Savvy industry observers acknowledge this--total global plug-in production is expected to total no more than 1 or 2 percent of a 100-million vehicle market in 2020, by most suggestions--but Lutz can express it in far more colorful terms.
As is his wont, Lutz doesn't think much of the media.
His final paragraph ends, "The media always seem to play their role in keeping us stupid."
(We must send Mr. Lutz a reminder about Green Car Reports.)
Meanwhile, what do you think? Is Lutz right: Will electric cars come to dominate the market? Is his timetable too slow?
Leave us your thoughts in the Comments below.