Former GM vice chairman: 'It is absolutely inevitable — human-driven vehicles are on their way out'

  • Bob Lutz, the former vice chairman of product development for General Motors, wrote a missive in "Automotive News" that society is "approaching the end of the automotive era."
  • Lutz predicts that human-driven cars will go the way of horses — they may be kept by the wealthy on ranches and at country clubs as forms of entertainment, but will disappear from highways.

  • He told CNBC on Tuesday there would be a tipping point where federal regulators officially phase out human-driven cars based on their disproportionate contribution to accidents.

Self-driving cars are coming very soon, and will replace the human-driven variety faster than most people think, according to Bob Lutz, the former vice chairman of product development for General Motors.

"It is absolutely inevitable — human-driven vehicles are on their way out," Lutz told CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" on Tuesday. "From a standpoint of moving human beings around the surface of the planet safely and efficiently, let's face it: It's the only way to go. Human beings just can't handle it anymore."

Lutz predicts that human-driven cars will go the way of horses — they may be kept by the wealthy on ranches and at country clubs as forms of entertainment, but will disappear from highways.

He told CNBC on Tuesday there would be a tipping point where federal regulators officially phase out human-driven cars based on their disproportionate contribution to accidents.

Lutz wrote a missive in "Automotive News" that society is "approaching the end of the automotive era" and that automotive retailers should "kiss the good times goodbye" as most future transportation will be "owned by the Ubers and Lyfts and God knows what other companies that will enter the transportation business in the future."

The piece elicited strong reactions from his contacts in the industry and the feedback was "not all good," Lutz told CNBC.

It's not a new prediction from Lutz, and it certainly has roots in reality. On Tuesday, Alphabet self-driving car company Waymo said it would start a ride-hailing service with driverless cars.

Still, Lutz said, GM is one of the automakers that "gets it," based on investments like Lyft and Maven. He expects GM will make other similar investments down the road. He also said he thinks smart car makers still have a shot at avoiding becoming the Nokia of transportation.

"Cars are entertainment, they're a social object, they're psychological object, they are objects that help attract the opposite sex, or whatever sex you're trying to attract," Lutz said. "That has nothing to do with efficiently transporting human beings."