This 84-year-old car guy blasts Elon Musk and Tesla, five ways

Bob Lutz, 84, is both an auto industry insider and a legendary iconoclast, who during his executive tour through BMW, Ford, Chrysler and General Motors never pulled punches in the namby-pamby approach of most corporate executives — one reason he never was named a chief executive.

He believes in electric cars, though, and pushed through the Chevy Volt against the bureaucracy as vice chairman at General Motors.

That didn’t stop him Wednesday morning on CNBC from laying into Tesla and its chairman and chief executive, Elon Musk:

On technology cults

“Tesla supporters are like members of a religious cult. Just like Steve Jobs was worshiped at Apple, it’s the same way with Elon Musk, who is seen as a new visionary god who promises this phantasmagorical future, a utopia of profitability and volume.”


On the difference between Musk and Jobs

“The only trouble is Steve Jobs delivered and Elon, God bless him, hasn’t delivered a thing, except increasingly negative cash flow and an increasing lack of profitability, more and more capital spending…”

On the pending merger of Tesla and Solar City

“You’re tying two sinking ships together for synergy.”

On Tesla’s future

“I just don’t see anything about Tesla that gives me any confidence that that business can survive.”

On whether Tesla is headed for bankruptcy

“Ultimately. Unless people keep pouring new money in ad infinitum…but the last time I checked their quarterly cash burn is about $250 million. For a company that size that’s horrific.”

“Every time they get like a $500-million injection through a new stock sale, or a $750-million injection of new money, it lasts them two or three quarters.”

On Tesla’s fundamental problem

“This is a problem that volume can’t fix. Because if you are in a variable loss, that is you’re not recovering labor and materials in your sell price, then doing twice as many or three times as many or four times as many doesn’t help, the losses just get bigger and bigger.”

Twitter: @russ1mitchell


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