I hate to beat a dead Edsel, but the Chevy Volt story is just too important to let slip away. After last week’s announcement by General Motors that it would be temporarily halting production of the Chevy Volt due to low demand, you would think that the evidence would finally be conclusive that the over-hyped, over-subsidized vehicle is a flop. The response by GM and lack of same from the Obama-loving media is worthy of continued criticism from those of us who have recognized that taxpayers have been bilked out of billions of dollars to produce a car that does practically nothing for the environment or foreign oil dependence while being unwanted by the 99% of consumers that can not afford, nor want the car. In fact, most 1 percenters don’t want the car either.
Americans should closely follow the Chevy Volt saga, as it epitomizes the crony capitalism, deception and taxpayer abuse underlying the Obama Administration’s green energy policy. And while far more money has been thrown down the drain producing and subsidizing the Volt compared to Solyndra, the mainstream media has either given a positive spin to the story or laid off the story completely.
Let’s again review the history of the Volt. The car was initially hyped as GM was making a case to get billions of dollars in bailout aid from the government. When Obama’s Auto Task Force (which was put in charge of redistributing wealth from GM bondholders and taxpayers to UAW members) was analyzing GM’s business plans, they even test drove the vehicle, which was supposedly to be a “game changer” for the company as well as a savior for the environment and foreign oil dependence. General Electric was one of the main players involved in hyping the vehicle, as they would profit from building the charging stations used. The TV business news network owned by GE dedicated the better part of a day hyping the Volt when it was rolled out, which followed shortly after the GM IPO hoopla. Neither the Volt, nor GM shares have lived up to the hype.
For the past year, significant sales for the Volt have not materialized. This did not stop GM or President Obama from declaring the car a huge success. Lies were told about the existence of long waiting lists of customers that were lined up to buy the car, if only GM could keep up with the strong demand. These claims came not only from GM, but also from politicians like Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) who claimed there were waiting lists in CA and Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) who said Volts were “selling like hot cakes.” And of course we had the Salesman in Chief, President Obama, say that he drove the car and it was a great vehicle. He recently backed off this falsehood and said the secret service wouldn’t let him drive, but he will buy one in five years. Meanwhile, GM hypocritically complains that the Volt is a political target.
GM manufactured excuses about as fast as they manufactured Volts regarding the reasons for low sales. They stretched out the “supply can’t keep up with demand” bogus claim as long as they could until it became obvious that they weren’t trying real hard to ramp up production and lack of supply wasn’t the issue. The latest excuse takes a play right out of President Obama’s playbook. Of course, it’s the Republican’s fault for falsely criticizing a technologically wonderful green machine! The scoundrels have convinced the nation not to buy Chevy Volts in an effort to destroy our planet and oust our leader!
GM seems to be sticking to its guns in its backing of the Volt. According to a WSJ report, “Mark Reuss, GM’s North American chief, said in an interview the auto maker remains committed to the Volt and is taking a number of steps to improve lagging sales. GM will launch a new national ad campaign this month that features Volt owners praising the car. It also recently dropped the monthly cost of leasing the vehicles to $350 from $399 for a 36-month lease.” Bob Lutz, whose legacy is being tainted by his absurd defense of the Volt, stated “The Volt is a bases-loaded home run. It will overcome.” So it appears GM will continue to blow millions of dollars on ads to promote a vehicle that the public doesn’t want. Perhaps all that ad spending is part of the reason TV networks, other than the Fox Business Network, do not criticize GM or the Obama Administration for dumping billions of dollars on the unwanted car that feeds on a life support line of taxpayer subsidies.
A sales boost should occur when crony corporation GE begins purchasing thousands of Volts as promised. The purchases may be timed so that they can occur closer to the presidential election, as President Obama continues to campaign on the perceived success of GM and the Chevy Volt while refusing to sell taxpayers’ ownership stake in the company. The public should be aware of the deceit when the media lights up with stories about electrified Volt sales.
Look, the bottom line is that the Chevy Volt might be a fine vehicle for those that can afford them and want to buy them, but billions of dollars should not be taken from taxpayers to subsidize a car that can not succeed on its own in the market. Not only should congress reject President Obama’s attempt to raise the EV tax credit to $10,000, Rep. Mike Kelly’s bill to kill the subsidies all together should be backed. Gas prices are approaching Government Motors’ desired $5 level and the Obama-backed Volt obviously does nothing to help lower the price. The facts are the facts, there was no reason to lie about the car and make claims that demand was so high. In doing so, GM and the White House have lost a great deal of credibility. The Volt saga raises the important question, if GM and the Obama Administration can lie so easily to the American public about the Chevy Volt, what else have they, or will they lie to us about?
Mark Modica is an NLPC Associate Fellow.