Wes Lutz, owner of Extreme Dodge on Seymour Road in Jackson recently ended his run as chair of the National Car Dealers Association (NADA).
He handed over the gavel to Dallas-based Ford Dealer Charley Gilchrist. Lutz has been at the forefront of all the hot car topics, and lobbying for dealers across the nation. We spoke with Lutz last week during our Auto Show recap. We asked about autonomous vehicles, and let’s just say, don’t plan on a robot chauffeur anytime soon. “We think (autonomy with driver behind a wheel by) 2030, and full autonomy by 2050,” Lutz said. “Wall Street and Silicon Valley really likes to push that narrative, but we’re so far out. Apple just stopped their autonomous vehicle program, and they were one of the leaders. They said that the investment now was too far out for a payout.” With that on the back burner, we asked about electric vehicles. Lutz said that there is one small setback currently for electric, “The problem with electric, 160,000 gas stations in the US, 16,000 charging stations.”
A lack of charging stations wasn’t the only problem for autonomous and electric vehicles. Logistics and cost are a nightmare as the technology continues to evolve. “The vast majority of Americans don’t park in the same spot every night, if you live in an apartment, where are you going to plug in?” Lutz said. “I was talking to the President of Google, and he said that the device on the top of the car (to make it autonomous) is $350,000, and the cell phone bill is $50,000 per month, so it’s $950,000 plus the cost of the vehicle in the first year.” If that isn’t enough to deter you, Lutz joked, “I can get you a good lease payment of about $15,000 per month on that.”