The internet has been abuzz with stories about General Motors competing with Tesla by offering a vehicle that will get 200 miles on an electric charge and cost only $30,000. One headline even declared that GM might be the winner of the competition with the title reading, “GM Takes on Tesla- and Just Might Win.” The only problem is that the car being hyped does not even exist. Nor may it ever.
GM has much experience in the field of green vehicle hype now having a couple of years under their belts with the Chevy Volt. Those in the media that bought on to the hype and helped spread the good (but false) word on the Volt do not seem to have learned from the experience. Perhaps it is GM’s multi-billion dollar marketing budget that helps influence coverage that is not based on facts. Or maybe it is just the political leanings of those espousing the great potential of the latest green miracle car coming out of GM. Whatever the motivation of those that spread GM’s deceitful messages, the truth is that there is no electric vehicle currently being built that will get 200 miles per charge at a $30,000 sticker price and have the performance of a Tesla.
One of GM’s purveyors of hype made a notable statement as it prognosticated upon the success of the Tesla-killer. According to the article, “Vice President of Global Product Development Doug Parks wouldn’t say when or if such a car will be built, however.” How is it that a car from GM is getting so much hype when GM itself says the car does not, and may not ever, exist?
The phantom Tesla-killer from GM was even highlighted on the major financial news network that helped to spread the initial hype on the Volt. This should be taken as a warning to those who rely on such news sources when they make their investment decisions. Do not believe everything you hear regarding publicly-traded companies. And in the case of GM, don’t believe anything.
Building a car to compete with the Tesla should not even be a major priority for any auto manufacturer. Tesla only sells about 2,000 cars a month. The market for supposedly green cars that cost close to $100,000 and rely on government subsidies is not all that large. While it is not a logical business strategy to rely on inefficient and money-losing electric vehicle development, it is a strategy that the Obama-appointed management at GM continues to pursue.
If GM wants to continue to double-down on money-losing cars like the Chevy Volt, that is between them and their shareholders. All I would ask is that the taxpayers stop being asked to pay for the losses. A close eye should be kept on how development of phantom vehicles like the Tesla-killer is being paid for. If the technology is feasible, government grants should not be needed. The $7,500 federal tax credits that go to rich buyers of electric cars should be removed so that free markets can determine the most efficient technology for alternatively-powered vehicles. The Obama Administration should also get out of Ally Financial, the government-owned lender which has been supplying the subsidized leases that help to pump up Volt sales.
If those that write and report on GM’s latest green hype will not try to be a little more skeptical of news coming out of a company that has lost credibility by misrepresenting the Chevy Volt, at least those on the receiving end of the hype can take such news with a grain of salt. Keep that in mind the next time you hear about the amazing, inexpensive, earth-saving, wonderfully-green GM phantom Tesla-killer.
Mark Modica is an NLPC Associate Fellow.