Often a vocal critic, and occasionally a Tesla supporter, Bob Lutz, former General Motors vice chairman, didn’t mince his words about Tesla when he was recently interviewed on Autoline After Hours.
In the interview, Lutz commented on almost everything Tesla, from the Model Y, Tesla’s battery technology, the Tesla Semi, to the Tesla Roadster.
On the Model Y, Lutz said the following:
“The Model Y, I think it is terminally ugly. I don’t know who’s going to buy that. It is another one of those humpback things like the Model X. It’s neither a sport utility nor a sedan, and to the extent it sells, I don’t think it is going to break into a new segment. I think sales will be largely substitutional to the Model 3’s.”
I think Mr. Lutz underestimates the strength of the Tesla brand alone for the Model Y to make a huge impact in the SUV segment. If nothing else, we need it to make an impact, as a recent study showed SUVs are the second biggest contributor to the rise of CO2 emissions worldwide. Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who has actually seen and probably driven the Model Y already, believes it could outsell the Model S, Model X, and Model 3 combined.
On Tesla’s battery technology, Lutz had this to say:
“I continue to believe that, and I keep repeating ad nauseam: when it comes to electrification technology, Tesla is at exactly the same place as everybody else: they use lithium-ion. The only reason why Tesla had more range was because they had a bigger battery.”
While there is some truth to his statement, it ignores the fact that Tesla is continually improving their battery management technology. They are able to squeeze out more range from a similar sized battery than the competition. Take the Model X LR as an example, compared to the “rival” Audi e-tron. Both have similar sized batteries, the Tesla with a 100kWh battery, and the Audi with a 95 kWh battery. Yet, the Tesla Model X gets 200km more in range than the Audi, far more than a simple 5kWh battery size difference.
On the Tesla Semi and Tesla Roadster, Lutz rounded out his comments with this:
“I don’t think they are going to do that sports car anytime soon. They certainly are not going to do the Semi. If they did, they would be extremely foolish because that whole market is not enough to make a difference.”
Perhaps if this interview were conducted prior to the Q3 2019 earnings call, Lutz’s comments might have been different. Or maybe they wouldn’t have been. Either way, Tesla continues to defy critics, and release the most compelling EV product since 2012, and no one has yet been able to deliver an EV of equal quality and substance.
You can watch the full interview below. The Tesla comments begin around 31m50s.