It appears that former GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz has done a 180-degree-turn on Tesla. Just a month after praising the Model 3’s improving quality and the company’s leadership, the former GM executive changed gears, declaring Tesla’s impending doom over what he argued was the company’s “hopeless” situation.
Lutz’s most recent comments came in an interview with German-language Swiss news outlet Handelszeitung, where he discussed his working relationship with the late Lee Iacocca, as well as his views on the advent of electric propulsion. Lutz stated that he has always been a proponent of EVs, and in this sense, he is right. The Chevrolet Volt, GM’s most successful hybrid vehicle to date, after all, was brought to the market in no small part due to Lutz. “I am convinced of the electrification. The electric motor will prevail in the industry,” he said.
Speaking about Tesla, Lutz admitted that the company’s CEO, Elon Musk, is a brilliant, strong leader. Nevertheless, Lutz also argued that just like other intelligent people, there are things that Musk does not know, and one of these is running a car company.
“He is brilliant, a genius. But like many very intelligent people, he does not know what he does not know. He does not know how a car company has to be run. He does not have the financial side under control. That’s why Tesla is in very bad shape. Elon got into trouble and did not listen to people who know each other. That’s the danger with such a kind of leader,” Lutz said.
When asked by the publication if he does not believe in Tesla’s success, Lutz proved even more dismissive. Similar to his previous comments about Tesla prior to his Model 3 observations last month, Lutz argued that Tesla is in dire straits. The former GM Vice Chairman blasted Tesla’s lineup, from the aging Model S, the “ugly” Model X, and the Model 3, which is allegedly seeing a problem in demand.
“The fate of Tesla is sealed. The situation is almost hopeless, given the losses they are currently writing. Demand has given way. Tesla had 400,000 pre-orders for the Model 3. In fact, they only sold 80,000 or 90,000 of them, and they have trouble selling more. The Model S is now ten years old, and sales are sluggish. The same picture shows the Model X, the SUV with the wing doors – that’s an ugly vehicle anyway. Tesla will have about a year until each of the big global auto companies has its own fleet of electric vehicles on offer. These cars will be as good or even better than Tesla’s,” he said.
Tesla, for its part, has issued a response to Bob Lutz’s comments, politely pointing out that Model 3 deliveries reached 77,550 units worldwide in Q2 2019 alone. Tesla has delivered 145,000 Model 3 in 2018 alone, and 128,450 more have been delivered in 2019 as of the end of the second quarter. Overall, that’s a total of 273,450 Model 3 delivered, making the upper end of Lutz’s Model 3 sales estimates just around 183,000 units off. The company also reiterated CEO Elon Musk’s point that Model 3 demand continues to be healthy.
Quite interestingly, even Lutz’s latest negative comments against Tesla did not have any references to the build quality of the company’s vehicles. This is in line with his conclusions on his post at motoring website Road & Track last month, where he stated that “While I continue to be critical of Tesla’s business model and Musk’s strategy, it was impossible to find fault with the visual quality of that Model 3. It looked like a fiberglass model as seen in design, before the production go-ahead. In those models, the panels are not assembled: it’s all one surface, and the separations are simulated by a routed groove.”