Chevrolet is shutting down production of the Volt, its electric car. Not even generous federal subsidies are enough to keep this trendy environmentalist flop on the road.
General Motors announced late last week that it will discontinue making its plug-in hybrid between March 19 until April 23 “to keep proper inventory levels.”
In other words, it can’t sell enough of the darned things to justify continued production.
Through the end of February, Chevrolet had sold a mere 1,626 Volts though it had planned to build 60,000 of them this year and sell 45,000 in the U.S. market.
The Volt, the novelty car Barack Obama said he would buy and drive himself once he left office, is more than just an automobile. It is the product of a hysterical political agenda.
Upon taking office, Obama promised the country a prosperous green economy. Hybrids and electric cars were supposed to be on the leading edge of our economic reorganization. To spur sales, each Volt buyer has been given a handsome $7,500 federal subsidy.
But that isn’t enough for this administration, which wants to kick the subsidy higher by 33% to a lavish $10,000. Apparently it’s lost on this White House that outside of mostly wealthy individuals — Volt buyers average $170,000 in yearly income — who want to appear hip and more environmentally sensitive than their gasoline-guzzling neighbors, this car doesn’t even have the popularity of a 1964 Studebaker.
Then again, maybe the plan to boost the subsidy isn’t due to a lack of insight but is rather a tacit admission that the Volt, with its burning batteries and short power cord, is a car without a demand. Even with the $7,500 incentive, Chevrolet sold a mere 7,671 units last year.
Some believe the Volt isn’t selling because, with a sticker of $40,000 and up, it’s overpriced. It costs about twice as much as the Chevrolet Cruze, which is essentially the gasoline-powered version of the Volt.
But it could actually be underpriced, and woefully so.
A Mackinac Center report says the real cost of the Volt is closer to $300,000. That includes the suggested retail price, the known $7,500 federal subsidy and another $250,000 in taxpayer-funded state and federal incentives for each car.
The Mackinac Center says analyst James Hohman arrived at that figure after looking at “18 government deals that included loans, rebates, grants and tax credits” that “flow through multiple companies involved in production.”
Examples of this government largess include:
• A $105.9 million Energy Department grant to General Motors for its Brownstown, Mich., plant that assembles batteries for the Volt.
• State credits worth $106 million to keep the Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant, where the car is made, rolling.
• $100 million in tax breaks and cash subsidies for Compact Power, which supplies the Volt batteries.
All that for a car the public doesn’t want but is being pushed into because lawmakers and bureaucrats think they know what’s best for everyone else.
Clearly these officials believe they’re justified in spending other people’s money to force their green-economy agenda.
But their motives and their means need to be questioned. Why do their plans get preferential treatment over the needs and desires of individuals? Because their presidential candidate won the last election?
Americans are telling their masters they don’t want the Volt. Maybe one day automakers can build a plug-in or hybrid that has an extended range, a market-appropriate price that doesn’t require taxpayers’ help and an authentic demand.
But the government needs to stay out of the process. The Volt shutdown should be permanent until this can happen. Further manipulation of taxpayers, consumers and car companies will only continue to produce failing results.