GM's Bob Lutz Pokes Holes in Better Place Model

General Motor’s vice chairman Bob Lutz is an outspoken guy — he’s not afraid of voicing is opinion on issues like how he doesn’t agree with the carbon theory of climate change (fun). Lutz also isn’t shy at offering his opinion on electric vehicle companies, specifically Shai Agassi’s startup Better Place — he told the Toronto Star’s Tyler Hamilton that he doesn’t like the Better Place model for a variety of reasons.

Lutz says GM’s batteries are purpose-built for the vehicle (not standardized), and he can’t wait for Agassi to standardize batteries. He also says he’s worried about the risks of Better Places’ networks and says “Frankly, we’d have to be very much assured that all of these connections, the disconnect, the reconnect, and everything, that it all works well without any risk or without any danger.” In addition Lutz says he doesn’t see how the math of Better Place’s business model would work. OK, that last one we can understand, but read the quote Hamilton got in all its glory:

I’m also somewhat troubled by the situation where a company becomes the equivalent of a cellular provider, and here is Mr. Agassi, who buys the electricity in bulk and resells it to you at a tremendous profit in the form of charged batteries. And he would have to charge a lot, because when you start thinking about the upfront investment in a dense network of charging stations all over the country . . . I don’t see how the business equation could possibly work. Unless he resells it to you at a tremendous mark-up. Which wouldn’t be profiteering.


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