Planet Gore

Lutz and Green-Auto Authoritarianism

“Will it be a segment beater?”

That is the question Bob Lutz — ex-GM design guru and author of the new book, Car Guys vs. Bean Counters: The Battle for the Soul of American Business — asks of the Chevy Volt. Not “why is the government forcing us to make an electrified car that is 100 years out of date?”

That a gruff-speaking (e.g.: “global warming is a crock of [expletive]“), customer-focused car guy like Lutz is resigned to the new green authoritarianism is a telling commentary on global governments’ market meddlesomeness.

Lutz believes the green-halo car is as necessary to global auto development today as muscle-car cred was — and still is — to the market. Make a Corvette, and your tech reputation soars. Make a Volt, you get great press. That’s why this car guy is now a committed EV guy.

“Very shortly, exports to Europe will start,” Lutz told WJR-Radio Detroit’s Frank Beckmann on his media book tour, explaining why the Chevy Volt’s Hamtramck plant has increased production five-fold. “It will do extremely well. Will it reach 400,000-a-year volume? No, the technology is too expensive. But with new government regulations of 62 mpg, other companies will HAVE to adopt this technology.”

(As wity muscle cars, Lutz & Co. have figured out that this is a rich-buyer’s segment Though, tellingly, the rich don’t need $7,500 subsidies thrown at them to buy Corvettes).

And GM wants to be the segment beater. In the USA. In Europe. In China. All have mandate-minded governments (remember, it’s George W. Bush who preceded Obama’s 62-mpg diktat with an equally absurd 35mpg diktat), and all are forcing their automakers to electrification.

We in the pundit class will continue to point out the wasteful, anti-consumer folly of such government interference. But to the businessmen, apparently, it is inevitable.

Henry Payne — Henry Payne is the auto critic for the Detroit News.

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