Chevy Volt becomes ‘punching bag’ as GOP slams Obama on green-energy subsidies

Move over, Solyndra. Conservatives opposed to the Obama administration’s spending on clean energy have a new whipping boy.

The electric Chevrolet Volt is the new focus of angry conservative blog posts, testy congressional hearings and joking videos. And Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich have taken shots at the car’s puny sales and size, with Gingrich jeering, “You can’t put a gun rack on a Volt.”

The Volt, critics say, represents another failed investment by President Obama in a clean-energy effort, following on the heels of the more than half-a-billion dollars from the stimulus sent to the now-bankrupt solar equipment company Solyndra. That the Volt is produced by General Motors Co., a company still partially owned by the government after the 2009 bailout, only adds fuel to conservatives’ ire.

“It becomes a campaign issue because it’s woven into the narrative that this is what President Obama’s administration does: It provides enormous subsidies and puts billions of dollars into green energy that the public doesn’t want,” Lansing, Mich.-based Republican strategist Steve Mitchell said.

“To a candidate trying to appeal to conservative voters … the Chevy Volt represents the type of intrusion into private sector by the government and it represents enormous financial resources being spent on technology that the public does not want.”

The political chatter is loud enough that GM was forced to respond with a commercial. “There’s been a lot talk about the Chevy Volt lately,” it says. “How about some facts?”

The ad, which launched online on Feb. 14, lists awards and safety recognitions the car has won. The GM effort was boosted last week by the launch of the company’s “btw” blog, which says it is aimed at offering GM’s “point of view, when the collective view gets a little clouded.”

But Volt critics aren’t relenting. Red State contributor Ben Howe launched a new website and Twitter feed this week that promotes a tongue-in-cheek effort to make the Volt Obama’s running mate.

GM has “proven that in America you can make it in any business, as long as you have unlimited financial resources and the backing of the United States government,” an actor says in a parody video produced by Howe for his site. “I don’t know about you, but I think that’s more than worse the couple-hundred-thousand dollars it costs taxpayers every time somebody buys one of these suckers.”

Howe said the video and Twitter feed are meant to draw attention to the cost of the auto industry bailout, which he said was an overreach of government. And, he added, the Volt also represents the White House trying to interfere in the auto market to promote a clean-energy strategy that Howe deemed unsuccessful.

“They’re pushing for something that the market would naturally do and in a way I think is dangerous,” Howe said.

Howe’s website links to another site,, which tallies the taxpayer cost of the auto bailout. Howe, who says he did not create the BailoutCost site, said he will continue to hammer on the Volt site as long as the bailout remains a campaign issue.


8 responses to “Chevy Volt becomes ‘punching bag’ as GOP slams Obama on green-energy subsidies

  1. I really want to drive a 4000lb car that, after the battery runs down, is powered by a RATED 86 horse power, 4 cylinder engine that would be putting out about 50+ HP to the wheels. No thanks.

    • You mistake that you need 150hp at all times. The 86hp engine stores it’s extra power in the battery pack for when you need it. You get the full 150hp when you need it. The rest of the energy is pushed into the battery. Quite often in the Volt, the generator turns off and you run off the battery in electric-only mode again. Any Volt owner experiences this… My Volt has slightly less acceleration on a depleated battery pack, but still out-performs a gas powered car at a stop light. You see, electric does not have to rev up to have torque.

  2. Ralph, you not post about something you are completely ignorant about.

  3. Ralph, you should not post about something you are completely ignorant about.
    1. The 150hp electric traction motor is available at all times.
    2. The Volt weighs 3780lb. Show me a car with a 5-star safety rating that weighs less.

  4. Paul,

    When you’re schilling for a waste of money you should get your facts straight. The electric motor is only available if there is sufficient electrical power available for it to run. Once the battery runs down the only available power is the gasoline engine. With a rated max at the flywheel of 86 bhp, that’s all you have available. You simply cannot power the electric motor at 150hp with an 86hp gas engine. While members of the Obama Administration have seriously tried to repeal the laws of physics because they’re inconvenient to the “green” agenda, Physics is not susceptible to Congressional action.

    The difference between 3780 and 4000 lbs is irrelevant to the discussion. As you well know. If we were talking about an SUV you’d be on the other side of the argument, and you know it.

    You can give a 5-star rating to anything, it doesn’t make a bit of difference. If you hit anything major with a Volt you’re subject to being crushed between a 2000lb battery pack and the object in question. And that’s before it catches fire.

  5. The Car talk guys once called the MGB the safest car in America because it was so unreliable, it could never leave the driveway.

    As an engineering project, the VOLT is a marvelous machine. Incredible technology and sophistication. As a practical family car it is a bust. It should work as an in town runabout, which makes it a terribly expensive electric golf cart. If low fuel use in a family car were the issue, we would focus on clean diesel. But that was never the issue. The issue is political power and Chicago style rent collection. If the government subsidizes an industry, they have life or death power over it.

  6. The first Prius stank, too…and the very first Fords REALLY stank.

  7. RichW,

    I’m sorry, but you are mistaken. The gas generator kicks on when the battery gets to about 30%. This is to prevent the battery from getting to 0%. So the generator is not turning the wheels, just providing more fuel to the battery. In extremely rare cases do you fall to 86hp, like if you tried climbing a road through the rockies if the battery was already at 30%. 99.9% of the time you are at full HP.

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