Lutz on Volt Lies
[From the Chevy Volt website]
The right wing has no shame. That’s not news. But when Bob Lutz, American automobile industry icon, calls them out, we know how bad it has gotten.
Lutz is the man behind the Chevy Volt, the innovative electric car with a supplementary gas engine that allows the driver to make longer trips without recharging. The crazy right wing (i.e., the heart of the modern-day Republican Party) has seen fit to attack the Volt and General Motors as expressions of Obama’s socialist vision for America. Lutz — no liberal he — is none too happy, and last spring he fought back in several venues. There were a Forbes column, a co-written Chicago Tribune op-ed, and — in the March/April issue of Charged, a magazine about electric vehicles — an interview by Markkus Rovito.
Here is some of what Lutz had to say to Rovito (hat tip: Jim Fallows). Please read it.
The level of owner satisfaction is extremely high. Quality and reliability is extremely high. But the downside is that the political extreme right has been distorting the facts of the Volt. The Volt passed the government crash tests with a five-star safety rating, and didn’t roll over. But the testing protocol requires that even if the vehicle doesn’t roll, it has to go through the rotisserie maneuver, which is five minutes on one side, five minutes on its back, five minutes on the other side, and then back on its wheels again. At some point during the rotisserie, some fluid leaked out, and three weeks later caused a short in the battery and the vehicle caught fire. I mean, how safe it that? Three weeks should give people adequate time to exit the vehicle.
And what did all these right-wing commentators make of that? “Chevy Volts catch fire.” All of them were talking about “yeah, they all catch fire. GM’s gonna recall ‘em. There’s just another Obama-inspired program – a misguided socialist automotive policy. And not only did they spend a lot of your hard-earned tax dollars creating this vehicle, but now they put a $7500 tax credit on it.” Well, there are a couple of things wrong with all those statements. First of all, the Volt was my idea in 2006. We showed the first prototype at the Detroit Auto Show in 2007. Obama wasn’t elected until late 2008, so Obama could not be the progenitor of the Chevy Volt. And what they also conveniently forget is that the $7500 tax credit for electric vehicles was enacted under the Bush administration.
As for Volts catching fire, the crashed one caught fire after three weeks, and then the NHTSA, in order to determine the root cause of the fire, deliberately mistreated two more battery packs until they caught fire to try to find the root cause of the initial fire. That of course in the media was: “GM grapples with additional Volt fires.” And these people are supposed to be for American jobs? They did such reputational damage to the Volt that the demand dipped to a very low level. So GM did the right thing, which was to idle production for 5 weeks and lay off workers. So here are these right-wing pundits who are always talking about jobs, jobs, jobs. Actually through their irresponsible reporting on the Chevrolet Volt they managed to put American workers out of their jobs for five weeks! It annoys me to no end.
As a conservative myself politically, it annoys me no end to see deliberate lying and misinformation coming out where they will trash an outstanding American product and do damage to American employment just to get at Obama. That’s just plain unethical.