Bob Lutz, the outspoken retired United States Naval Aviator and former General Motors, BMW, and Chrysler executive, was on the panel of Hagerty’s Why Driving Matters Town Hall in Scottsdale, Arizona, last week. Lutz had plenty to say about Tesla, among other things.
Lutz, Wayne Carini of Discovery Channel’s Chasing Classic Cars, and Hagerty CEO McKeel Hagerty spoke about the future of driving as autonomous cars become mainstream. Lutz remains positive that automotive enthusiasts will still be able to enjoy cars, sees a future of motorsports parks for racing and off-roading, and doesn’t think gasoline will go away or even become too pricey. “For the foreseeable future, gasoline is going to remain right about where it is, which is where it has been historically,” he said.
In the final minutes of the talk, McKeel Hagerty brought up Tesla—and Lutz didn’t pull any punches. After praising Tesla’s cars as “pretty brilliant” and noting that the Model S is “one of the fastest, best-handling, best-braking sedans that you can buy in the world,” Lutz was critical of the company’s business model. “Poor Elon Musk doesn’t know how to run a business,” (listen to his direct quote at 1h5m23s) Lutz said, noting the rate in which the company is burning through cash and suggesting it can’t sustain itself. He offered the audience of collector car enthusiasts a tip: “May I suggest buying a Tesla Model S while they’re still available.”
Musk is big on hyping his vehicles and has done a lot to shake up the automotive world with sleek, powerful models from Tesla, but even he recognizes that the company’s valuation is too optimistic, admitting last July, “The stock price is higher than we have any right to deserve.” Still, the company’s market cap remains at nearly $60 billion and has gained 10.98 percent since the beginning of the year.