Lutz, GM's vice chairman of global product development, spoke at the Automotive News World Congress on Wednesday night.
Let me see if I can get all this right:
Lutz on Taxing Gas
Only gas prices at the level that Europeans pay will cause Americans to rethink their vehicles, Lutz said. "If for the last 15 years we'd had a slow but sure rise in federal fuel taxation of, say, 15 cents a gallon per year -- that would have gradually put the customer in the equation," he said.The customer is not now in the equation of what cars to build or buy? I'm not sure that came out the way Lutz wanted.
Lutz on the Big American
"In America, instead of raising fuel prices, we'll end up having to raise new vehicle prices, because of the increased use of lightweight materials and fuel-saving technology."Europeans are willing to pay more for smaller, more efficient cars, but Americans are not. How do you explain sales of the Prius? It may not be diesel, but it is small and efficient.
"Europeans, at their fuel prices, are willing to pay premium prices for premium small cars that deliver terrific fuel economy. That is not the case here in America, land of the big truck and big horse" and, he added, " the big American."
Lutz on Federal Regulations and E-85
The new federal regulations will also fail to lower the U.S. dependency on petroleum and imported oil, Lutz said. The best near-term solution to doing that is to adopt more E-85, ethanol-burning vehicles.Using E-85 gives you a break in the CAFE standard, so I can understand why Lutz would want to go that way
Lutz on Changing the Fleet
"It's just common sense," Lutz said. "You don't roll over the whole fleet at once. It takes decades -- and the bigger the price disparity between the old ones and the new ones, the longer it takes."First of all, the fuel efficiency question has been coming for a long time. Just because GM ignored the warning signs...
On the other hand, he said with diesel fuel at the same price as gasoline in the United States, there won't be many Americans willing to pay a " $3,000 to $4,000 premium" for diesel vehicles unless GM is willing to eat that cost.
Diesel has a bad rap in the U.S. It's going to take time to fight that perception. But they have a decade to do it. And besides which, maybe diesel isn't the way to go.
Lutz on the Comparison Between Beer and Li-Ion Batteries
"It's like beer. Some people say beer tastes bad. But there are many different types. U.S. beer, imported beer. You've got pilsner, ale, stout, wheat beer," Lutz said. " Some beers are better than others. Just because somebody said one particular lithium ion technology is a little bit aggressive and it's been known to cause thermal problems, does not mean they all do. The technology is advancing every day."I get the feeling it was getting close to dinner time and Lutz (and the audience) was looking forward to getting out to dinner. His point is a valid one, though. Not all batteries are made the same. And with plug-in hybrids depending on those advancements (that may have already been made), it looks like auto makers feel the money is making a difference.
Source: Lutz: U.S. won’t embrace small cars at today’s gas prices - Automotive News