The Tesla Model Y is expected to be the company’s highest-volume vehicle yet, with Elon Musk noting during the recently-held third-quarter earnings call that he expects the crossover to outsell Model S, Model X, and Model 3 combined. Former GM vice chair Bob Lutz, on the other hand, has some doubts, and a lot of that has to do with the way the Model Y looks.
The Model Y is created as the crossover version of the best-selling Model 3, and as such, the vehicle shares around 75% of the components of its sedan sibling. This makes the two vehicles look very similar, though the Y could be described as a taller, heftier 3. So similar were the two electric vehicles that even Tesla enthusiasts who took test rides in the Model Y during its unveiling event found it a bit challenging to tell the crossover apart from the Model 3.
This, according to the former GM executive, is a big mistake. In an appearance at Autoline After Hours prior to the release of Tesla’s blockbuster Q3 results, Bob Lutz talked about the electric car maker, and while he acknowledged the Model 3’s success, he was dismissive of the Model Y.
“I think we’re in a period of relative stability. The Model 3 continues to sell well. But the Model Y, I think it’s terminally ugly. I don’t know who’s gonna buy that. It’s another one of these humpback things like the Model X. It’s neither a sport utility nor a sedan, and to the extent it sells, I don’t think it’s going to break into a new segment. I think the sales will be largely substitutional to the Model 3,” he said.
When asked about Tesla’s lead in range, Lutz remarked that the electric car maker is in the same place as everyone else making EVs when it comes to battery technology. Explaining his point, Lutz argued that the only reason Tesla’s electric cars have longer range is because the company’s vehicles have larger batteries.
“When it comes to battery technology, Tesla is in exactly the same place as everybody else. They use lithium-ion and lithium-ion has a certain energy content per kWh and everybody else has the same one. So the only reason why Tesla had more range was because they had a bigger battery,” he remarked.
Lutz’s comments fail to account for the specific chemistries and energy density in Tesla’s battery cells, which continues to be improved by the electric car maker. This is one of the reasons why cars like the Model X Long Range can hit 328 miles of range per charge with a 100 kWh battery pack, while the Audi e-tron 55, a vehicle with a 95 kWh battery pack, can only go 204 miles. That’s a 124-mile difference in range from a 5 kWh difference in battery pack size.
Despite Bob Lutz’ overall dismissive stance on the Model Y and Tesla’s battery tech, the former GM executive did acknowledge the Model 3 and the Model S, which he admitted is a pretty remarkable sedan. Lutz also admitted that Elon Musk’s strategy of first attacking the top end of the market with higher-priced EVs and going from there was the right move.
Watch the former GM’s comments about Tesla in the video below.