Bob Lutz takes our questions on the Volt
Most car companies usually do not reveal too much about their new cars before they are for sale, and General Motors is no exception. But when you’re Bob Lutz, the rockstar of the automotive world, and the Volt is like having a new album, then it’s time to promote. GM is doing an uncharacteristically large amount of press well before the production Volt hits the showrooms in late 2010. Lutz sat down with a few Journalists including TopSpeed to explain why the Volt turned out like it did, and what to expect between now and when it hits the showrooms.
The exterior of the Volt has been a hot topic for the last year. First we learned that the production car would need to be altered for better aerodynamics, and then unflattering photos of the production model were leaked earlier this month. But Lutz believes yesterday’s unveiling quieted most of those who are worried about the car. “It’s different then the concept but the people like it better,” he said.
Lutz, who is usually the king of car style, explained that function dictated over the design of the Volt. He said that most cars aren’t built for function. “I have never seen a family go shopping for a car with a tape measure.” This means that most cars will sacrifice space by adding curvy wheelarches and angular backends. But the Volt had to be different. The concept wasn’t aerodynamic enough, and so the wind tunnel testing turned the slab sided car into a much more rounded vehicle.
The idea for the Volt was not the car Lutz initially wanted to build. “I originally wanted a fully electric car,” he said. What changed his mind was a concept called “range anxiety,” which referrers to confusion on an electric car’s power. Lutz says that people who drive electric cars are apprehensive about the range of the car due to outside factors that may zap power such as air conditioning, hilly terrain, excess speed or cold/hot weather. This means that although an electric-only car may have a range of 70 miles, drivers will not take it past 40 miles due to range anxiety.
The Volt won’t actually be at dealerships for almost two years, but yet there is plenty of information already released. But Lutz isn’t worried media over saturation will ruin the car. “Critics said the same thing about the (Dodge) Viper.” Lutz pointed out that there was always plenty of news during his time with the Viper’s multi-year development process. He believes that the press will stay excited about the car as long as GM keeps offering up a few bits of information every few months. Who are we to argue with Bob Lutz.