Chevy Volt Should Have Been Pickup: Lutz Photo:

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Tony O'Kane | Jan, 06 2014 | 10 Comments

General Motors' outspoken former Vice Chairman Bob Lutz says the American automaker should have made its first volume electric vehicle a pickup truck, rather than the slow-selling Volt small car.

In an interview with the Seattle Times, Lutz said the logic of targeting reduced fuel consumption in small cars was flawed, given the greater potential for fuel efficiency gains in larger, heavier cars like the Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra.

Though full-year sales results have yet to be released, Holden sold just 98 Volts to the end of November, while Nissan sold 171 fully-electric Leafs in the same period.

“We started at the wrong end," Lutz said.

"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."

But while Lutz makes a good point about relative gains, he doesn't make mention of the need for electrified trucks to sacrifice payload capacity for batteries, or of what impact an electric powertrain (even a range-extendable one like the Volt's) would have on the practical range of a work ute.

What say you? Is Bob Lutz on the money with his EV assessment, or does it make more sense to start the electrification process with smaller vehicles? Have your say in the comments.

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