Bob Lutz now thinks the Chevy Volt should've been an electric truck

Bob Lutz Chevy and truck
CC BY-SA 2.0 Flickr

Electrifying gas-guzzlers is a great opportunity

In a recent interview, Bob Lutz, GM's former vice-chairman and the 'father of the Volt', explained why he thinks that his baby should've been an electric truck:

We started at the wrong end. The whole automotive industry made the intellectual mistake of thinking EVs were all about maximum range, so we all started with small vehicles that are basically very economical anyway. Yes, you do save fuel. You can use a smaller battery, but it makes less sense to take a 40 mpg vehicle and make it electric than it does to take a full-size pickup or SUV, which in town realistically gets 11 to 12 mpg. If you take that to 100 mpg, now you’re really saving money and saving a scarce natural resource and reducing CO2 emissions drastically. (source)

The math makes sense, of course. Gas-guzzlers by definition use more fuel and emit more CO2, so all else being equal, electrifying them will make a bigger absolute difference than with a fuel-sipper, even if the relative improvements are the same.

Cadillac Escalade Volt© GM

Lutz goes on to say that big trucks and SUVs make economic sense because the fuel savings are so huge "that you will more than get back your monthly lease price," and that starting with trucks could've helped the image of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids.

Maybe he's right, it's hard to say. New technologies need to convince early adopters to take a gamble. Hyrids, plug-in hybrids, and electric cars had a built-in market with people who care about the environment and not wasting resources. If the first models had been big trucks and SUVs, maybe they would have had trouble getting a critical mass of early adopters to show the bean counters that it's worth pushing forward with development.

We'll never know, but Lutz's vision is slowly emerging anyway. Tesla has said that they want to make an electric pickup truck similar to Ford's F150, and bigger electrified concept vehicles are popping up in various auto shows.

So we should see a lot more plug-in trucks on the market within a few years, and hopefully they are embraced by truck enthusiasts, if only because their wallets are hurting from fuel costs.


Lutz certainly can't be blamed for not putting his money where his mouth is. He's now working at VIA Motors, making... you guessed it: Plug-in trucks.

Via Seattle Times

See also: Prius hybrid named 'Best New Car Value' by Consumer Reports for second year in a row

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