Green Update: Lutz Keeps on Truckin’—Now with VIA

VIA truck

At 79, Bob Lutz is not your retiring kind of guy. He recently signed on as a special advisor with GM, as we reported. He’s on an advisory board for Lotus Cars.

Now he has cut a deal to work with VIA Motors, a small Utah startup company that does electric conversions of Chevy trucks, vans and SUVs.

One thing about Lutz: Despite his reputation as an old-line, hard-line car guy who embodied all the worst aspects of “brand management,” Lutz has changed his mind and his attitudes on many things, becoming a big advocate for electric vehicles and a new business model for Detroit.

It’s pretty clear that the man who promoted and helped create the Volt found a company in VIA that would take plug-in technology to the next (range-extended) level. VIA specializes in converting Chevy commercial vehicles for extended-range fleet use.

So Lutz brings his GM connections to a company that is committed to using GM vehicles. We might call that corporate synergy (or inside tracking?). Compared to gas and diesel, the savings for fleets in using such trucks can be very great.

And while GM might be concentrating firmly on plug-in cars for the time being, light-duty pickup trucks represent a large, generally untapped portion of the market where fleet managers are willing to spend extra money up-front if it results in lower running costs and huge fuel savings.

More from the company’s press release:

BOb Lutz with cigar“I believe VIA’s extended range electric trucks will be a game changer, and drive the standard for clean, high performance, utility vehicles around the world.” Mr. Lutz also noted that light duty trucks are the top selling vehicles in America, with the pick-up truck remaining the number one selling vehicle twenty years-running. [sic]

The idea to follow, as he reported to Automotive News, is to “duplicate the Volt proposition for pick-ups and large SUVs. This will get these popular vehicles into the 100 mpg range.”

100 miles per gallon? In a pickup? Mr. Lutz, as we know, is sometimes given to overstatement. But it’s still a hell of an idea.

Would you be tempted to buy a little stock in VIA—if and when it went public?

—jgoods

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2 Comments

  1. Well, you know what I’m going to say. Where Lutz goes, failure follows. When you look at the wreck and bankruptcy of GM, that’s Bob. Rather than leading the company to a viable product mix, he gave us fleets of gas guzzling Hummers, Escalades, XLRs, Aztecs, and squadrons of cookie cutter look alikes. You point out the Volt, which is a market failure that costs too much and is overly complex. You can tell GM is in the clutches of a bunch of clueless OWG’s (old white guys) when they keep going back to Lutz.

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