The Right Opinion

Chevy Volt : Solyndra on Wheels

By Michael Reagan · Sep. 13, 2012

“I absolutely love my Chevy Volt.”

That's what the smug guy in the TV commercial says when he's praising the virtues of his plug-in hybrid and boasting that he hasn't seen a gas pump in months.

You might love your Chevy Volt, too – if you could afford to buy one.

The GM Volt, aka the Green Edsel, is not just an overly engineered, overly expensive, overweight and impractical car than runs on electricity and gasoline.

It's a Solyndra on Wheels. The Volt only exists because it's been so heavily discounted by GM and subsidized by the federal government.

So far the Volt has cost Government Motors about twice as much per car to develop and make than its sticker price, which is $40,000. On top of that savings, the consumer gets a $7,500 federal tax credit for being so green – or maybe so naive.

Yet the Volt's ultimate price – $32,500 for what is essentially an electrified and souped-up $17,000 Chevy Cruze – is still so high that only those in the top 7 percent of all income earners will buy it.

The average per capita income of Volt buyers is $172,000 – the income bracket that usually drives a BMW or a Mercedes.

In other words, the average American – who makes less than $40,000 a year – is subsidizing a bunch of rich people so they can hug themselves for saving the planet (by buying a car that runs for about 35 miles on electricity generated by coal-fired power plants before Exxon premium gas has to take over).

Despite these subsidies and low-cost lease deals, Volt sales so far in 2012 are 13,500, far below the 45,000 cars GM hoped to sell this year in America alone.

Experts say GM will have to sell about 120,000 Volts in five years to begin covering its development costs. Good luck, GM. I don't think there are that many celebrities in Hollywood who need a third car.

After Romney replaces Obama this fall, let's hope he'll pull the government plug on the Volt and concentrate on making us energy independent.

Killing the Volt and any other electric-car boondoggles would be a good thing, and not just because it'd save money the federal government doesn't have. The popularity of electric-propelled cars that raise miles-per-gallon averages has given some of our more “progressive” governments some dangerous ideas.

State and local governments worry that if gasoline sales decline they'll be deprived of billions of dollars in revenue from gas taxes that now are used to maintain roads or subsidize mass transit.

To make up for lost revenues from hybrids and electric cars in the future, Oregon and San Francisco already have been looking into the idea of charging drivers a tax per each mile driven.

Cars would be fitted with GPS navigation systems that track how far they drive. Then drivers would be billed accordingly – about a penny a mile, depending on where and when you rack up the mileage.

Needless to say, this Orwellian idea came from Europe, and the Obama administration has been exploring it too.

So let's see what's going on here. The government greenies want you to pay extra to drive an electric car that's more fuel efficient, then they charge you for the miles you drive anyway?

What red-blooded, road-loving American driver wants a government GPS implanted in his car with some bureaucrat looking at it to see how many miles he's driving?

Not me. I own a Ford Expedition. I get 12.5 miles per gallon. I love it. When it gets too old, I'll buy a new one.

The government is going to get us one way or the other. I say, go out and buy the biggest damn SUV you want. Enjoy your life. Light a cigar. Step on the gas. And don't waste a watt on a Volt.

Copyright ©2012 Michael Reagan

32 Comments

JTG in Indiana said:

And let's not forget that the plant announced 4 weeks of down time starting next week. More unemployment soon to be offset by the growing number of people leaving the workforce. Obama and company are a joke.

Thursday, September 13, 2012 at 8:12 AM

Ed Alexander in Indianapolis, IN said:

1) GM Shut down plant for 4 weeks to tool up for production of the new Chevrolet Impala (nice car by the way).
2) The Volt sold some 2800 units last month
3) Calculations of loss per vehicle are grossly in error
4) GM lost money on every small car sold in America for decades due to UAW greed and government oversight of Union legal leverage where none is deserved or benifitial
5) Volt is a fantastic car, sold at a premium over cost of production (excluding development costs)... Time breeds profit in this industry
6) All cars are sold at an overall loss when considering development costs until sufficient volume has been shipped.
7) Two additional models are soon to release that leverage much of the Volt development costs (Cadillac ELR and the EV version of the Chevy Sparc)
8) New EV's will also be sold in global markets
9) GM produced Volts at volume ahead of the retooling shutdown to ensure that deliveries would not be affected. EVERY CAR PLANT IS SHUT DOWN, EVERY YEAR, FOR TOOLING UPDATES (Usually in the spring)

Thursday, September 13, 2012 at 8:27 AM

Git R Dunn in Alabama replied:

Hey, I saw one of them thar Volts on the highway. It looked real good because it wasn't on fire.

Thursday, September 13, 2012 at 2:04 PM

JTG in Indiana replied:

Mr. Ed,

How many weeks has the DHAM plant been shut down this year? They must have be retooling for quite some time.
Many Volt units were sold to the government.
Global markets, Europe in particular, have produced huge losses for the US automakers.

Thursday, September 13, 2012 at 3:27 PM

Rod in USA said:

@ Ed Alexander:

2800 units/month * 12 = 33,600 a year. Car companies selling traditional cars have shuttered models that sell 3x that amount a year because they are not profitable. Are you tryig to say the loss calculations should be higher (that Mr. Reagan's calculations are understated)?

A point missed in the article (or perhaps under-developed since he alluded to it) is that the Volt merely shifts the costs from gas to electricity. The perception that electric cars are better needs some proving: Fossil fuels need to be be used to produce the energy for electric cars. Hazardous materials are used to make the batteries for the cars. We are trading one thing for another.

On another note: Totally agree with the points made about subsidizng the Volt. It is absolutely unconstitutional THEFT.

Thursday, September 13, 2012 at 9:13 AM

wjm in Colorado replied:

Nice response to someone obviously cluelessly drinking the Ministry of Propoganda Koolaid. The Dolt is an unmitigated disaster for GM. Production lines are closed for retooling, but in the case of this joke, It was because of lack of sales. If Government Motors continues this, it is only due to pressure and control by the marxist statist regime now in power. If Obamao get another term, most likeley a lifetime appointment, look for mandates, taxes, fees, and executive orders that will force all competition in the auto industry out of America in favor of GM. Think Soviet style economy, and Chairman Obamao has also spoke in favor of applying this government marketing to all sectors of the economy. GM should have been allowed to go bankrupt, restructure, and either produce a viable product or go the way of the dinosaur.

Thursday, September 13, 2012 at 9:35 AM

India in GA replied:

EXACTLY, Rod. We are trading one thing for another.

When that "smug guy" on the Volt commercial brags about not having been to the gas station for months, I want to scream, "What does your power bill look like, buddy?!"

Thursday, September 13, 2012 at 2:16 PM

Pete in USA replied:

His electricity bill is probably up about $40-50 on the high end...

Sunday, December 2, 2012 at 3:22 PM

JAT in Boston, MA said:

America and Detroit did something right (built a car that other countries couldn't) and unpatriotic people like you want to bring it down. The Chinese wanted to buy the technology but GM wouldn't sell. I'm sure you would sell, because you strike me as an American sell-out. Are you affiliated with OPEC by any chance? If Americans would get behind the Volt and buy it, the price would come down.

And what is wrong with being green? Government greenies? So evil? Green people want to get us to stop sending our green dollars to the Middle East and help America lead the next energy revolution that IS THE OBVIOUS WAY FORWARD (even a dinosaur like you should be able to recognize that if you put your two brain cells together). If you weren't so selfish, you might consider future generations the way that those great generations that built our nation did. But for now, get into your Hummer that surely compensates for so much that must have gone wrong in your life.

Thursday, September 13, 2012 at 10:21 AM

Jim in People's Republik of NY replied:

JAT - put down the kool aid for a minute and try to put a logical thought together - the volt is not green - the electricity is fossil produced and the batteries are toxic - it stresses the power grid when they charge at night- something I am sure you have no clue about but I do - and govt. picking winners helped bring your heros in the USSR down

Thursday, September 13, 2012 at 10:40 AM

JAT in Boston, MA replied:

Energy from the grid is a lot cleaner. And a lot more efficient. That's probably why it costs about $1 for 40 miles of electric fuel rather than $4.

Thursday, September 13, 2012 at 11:14 AM

wjm in Colorado replied:

And after 40 miles it is burning gas, at a rate exceeding many more inexpensive fuel efficient cars. The Volt is one of the most idiodic examples of government intrusion ever seen.

Thursday, September 13, 2012 at 11:27 AM

JAT in Boston, MA replied:

40 miles is a lot of range though. If I commute 80 miles a day, I've cut my gas consumption in half. If I had a charging station available where I work, I use no gas.

Thursday, September 13, 2012 at 11:31 AM

wjm in Colorado replied:

Maybe in Boston 40 miles is good enough, not so our here in flyover country. By your standards, you probably live close enough to ride a bycycle, and if you keep voting Democrat, you may be forced to. Government mandated automobiles are anti American Tyranny, and if you embrace that, I call you TRAITOR. You are what Lenin called a useful idiot. The volt is an abject failure, as are your arguements.

Thursday, September 13, 2012 at 1:34 PM

Pete in USA replied:

People called the Prius a failure 10 years ago and now its the 15th best selling car in the US. While that may not seem like much, its about 150k or so units. Plus that technology has had a trickle-down effect into other vehicles for Toyota. I know how much you all love trickle-down so this should really excite you!

The Volt technology will also trickle-down into other vehicles within the GM lineup.

Monday, December 3, 2012 at 9:44 AM

India in GA replied:

JAT, if you had a 'charging station' at work, wouldn't your employer be paying for that electricity?

Thursday, September 13, 2012 at 2:19 PM

Pete in USA replied:

"Then General Motors' Vice Chairman Robert Lutz said the two-seat sports car being developed by Tesla Motors, the Roadster, and the rapid advancement of lithium-ion battery technology inspired him to push the carmaker to develop the Volt after the 2006 Detroit Auto Show. Lutz's initial idea was to develop an all-electric car, but Jon Lauckner, General Motors Vice President for Global Vehicle Development, convinced him that to avoid an expensive battery, range anxiety concerns, and lack of public charging infrastructure, they could use a smaller battery pack with a small gasoline engine driving a generator acting as a backup to extend the range, but without a mechanical connection between the gasoline engine and the drive wheels, so it would be a pure electrically driven vehicle without many of the limitations General Motors learned from the EV1 experience."

I forgot that Barrack Obama had actually taken over the presidency in 2006.

Thanks for the history lesson!

Monday, December 3, 2012 at 9:37 AM

Andy in Raleigh, NC replied:

JAT, you're cute. You try so hard to ignore reality and use such STRONG, MANLY words to do it. Name calling has worked so well in the past on this board.
Detroit (the city) hasn't done anything right since being taken over by the statists and democrats (but I repeat myself) in the 60's. America has done a LOT of things right, but the Volt ain't it. Hello, $40k car that's roughly comparable with the $20k Prius it's competing with.
You are right, if Americans would get behind the Volt and buy it, the price would come down. Still wouldn't compete with the Prius, but it'd get closer.
Green people fight to stop ALL U.S. oil, natural gas, and coal production, and are surprised when the prices go up. I want to lead the next energy revolution - natural gas that we have a 100+ year supply of. Would you get your buddies to stop fighting it? That way we can afford to develop the efficient technologies that you are so exercised about.

Thursday, September 13, 2012 at 11:40 AM

JAT in Boston, MA replied:

Trust me, Andy, I'm an indpendent thinker (and I don't have a bunch of green buddies that all think alike). All of your condescension aside, I am both man enough and strong enough to say that I agree with you about natural gas as long as it can be ontained without polluting our even more precious water supplies. In fact, I appreciate your desire to move this country forward and not simply stick with "the way we do it now" just for the sake of it.

Thursday, September 13, 2012 at 11:58 AM

wjm in Colorado replied:

Your powers of "thought" are thoroughly suspect.

Thursday, September 13, 2012 at 1:36 PM

Richard Ryan in Lamar,Missouri said:

At one time I drove nothing but GM automobiles. Now I drive anything but GM. They put out nothing but pieces of crap built by over-paid, under performing union crybabies. My daughter has a late model Chevy Cobalt. It is a total piece of junk. At 37,000 miles the ignition switch went bonkers. Warranty, 36,000 miles. Cost to daughter to repair, over $l50.00. At 48,000 miles, wheel bearing shot craps. Warranty, ditto. Cost daughter almost $200.00 to repair. Has had 2 factory recalls since. My wife and I own as a 2nd car, a 1995 Geo Prism. Has Chevy name on it but in reality is a Toyota Corolla. Probably not built by union hangers on. Has l52,000 thousand miles on it, gets 43 miles per gallon on highway, still uses no oil, and other than routine maintenance has had no problems. Why would I buy a joke like a Volt costing in excess of $40,000., getting no better mileage than a Toyota Corolla costing $18,000. HMMMMMM?

Thursday, September 13, 2012 at 3:32 PM

Pete in USA replied:

So, if I go 5000 miles on 8 gallons...that's worse than a Corolla? Do tell how you're achieving that mileage in a Corolla?

Sunday, December 2, 2012 at 3:29 PM

Tex Horn in Texas said:

Let's imagine there is no oil, no natural gas, only electric cars. Do you not think that the electric companies would not become the new oil companies, in the sense that they would now have the monopoly on transportation "power?" Are your electric bills so cheap now? I belong to an electricity cooperative and my electric bills are still sky high. You think I'm going to plug in a car? Duh.

Thursday, September 13, 2012 at 6:11 PM

Pete in USA replied:

I have solar panels that will pay for themselves in a matter of 4-5 years...tell me again how my electricity company can screw me?

Sunday, December 2, 2012 at 3:30 PM

readinglady2@dslextreme.com in CA said:

Did the "Greenies" forget their hero, BO is shutting down coal mines, nuclear plants and oil drillinng. Where do those on this page that make no sense to me think they are going to get the electricity to run this Dolt?? His Cap and trade nonsense is going to send electricity rates "skyhigh" as he said.

I live in CA and thanks to Enron and the EPA we pay enormous prices for both gasoline and electricity. Oh by the way, we are not being allowed to build any new generating plants. Sounds like the Green people really haven't thought this through.

Thursday, September 13, 2012 at 6:39 PM

Richard Ryan in Lamar,Missouri said:

readinglady, not only have the Greenies not thought it through, they haven`t thought at all. They just feel. That`s the same principle we have running the white house.

Thursday, September 13, 2012 at 9:19 PM

Howard Last in Wyoming said:

The Volt and other small cars are coffins on wheels. My wife drives a 3/4 ton 4 wheel drive 96 Suburban and I drive a 3/4 ton 3/4 4 wheel drive 03 pickup. Hey this is Wyoming we get snow. We get 12 mpg on the Suburban and 11 mpg on the pickup. And that is driving at 75 mph + and often towing a trailer. When you drive 60 miles for dinner, you don't want to take all day to get there. Did I mention that the Suburban and pickup are safer? If and when I have to replace them it will be with a F250 diesel Ford. No governmint motors.

Friday, September 14, 2012 at 12:27 AM

Pete in USA replied:

Whatever illusion of safety makes you sleep better...

http://news.pickuptrucks.com/2012/06/nhtsa-crashrollover-data-34-ton-pickups.html

http://youtu.be/zWdT4bRnCHI

Sunday, December 2, 2012 at 3:38 PM

pete in CA said:

Of those 13,500 volts sold this year, how many were bought by our government in its various disguises? WE own FLEETS of hybrids already that we can't drive because they are registered in the name of county/state/federal governments instead of the people who actually paid for them.

GM is being held up by obama and his government and nothing else. They bought 78% of GM cars sold in the last few years. What does one government department need with a NEW vehicle for every 1.2 workers?

I've said for decades all this "conserve gas," "conserve electricity," "conserve water," and "produce less trash" was going to jump up and bite us in the azz one day. Government derives its income from taxes on the amount of income those utilities sell. When we use less, the amount we pay goes down. When the amount we pay goes down, the bottom line decreases, and the tax revenue drops too.

So how does government fix that? The raise taxes first, and when that doesn't work, they add new taxes: life line, Code A, Code B, monthly service fee, epa surcharge, and a thousand others. I use less electricity today than I did with four kids at home, yet I pay nearly 10 times as much. With everything from apples to zucchini going up we're at the point now where we pay utility bills on alternating months just so we can eat.

Sunday, September 16, 2012 at 7:55 PM

Pete in USA replied:

Cite a source for the 78% figure...don't worry, I'll wait...

Sunday, December 2, 2012 at 3:42 PM

Tim in Wisconsin said:

I'm a conservative. I'm older. I'm a vet of the first PGW, so I got to eat sand 20 plus years ago, and have had a close up view of the politics, polemics and culture we support now at the pump and help fund the people who have their own agenda of destruction. Most of the vehicles I've had over the last years -trucks, SUV's etc- fall within the range of he cost of the Volt. I am not a tree hugger. After spending 7000 dollars in fuel the last 15 months, I test drove a Volt and loved how it drove, felt and responded. I'm too stiff to get in an out of a Prius, and it does not compare to the Volt. Yes, I've read the forums from people who drank the kool-aid, and that's not why I am interested. Simply,i love the technology. I love the AMERICAN ingenuity. What I really love is that for the first time in my life, I'll get back some of the money I've paid out. I also won't be funding the flames of oil terrorism. I like the car. It's not a CRUZ. Anyone who references that comparison obviously has not driven one. Is it pricey? yes. Do people who can afford it tend to make more money? That's what the demographics say. But you know what? I gotta drive something, and I like this car's style, fun in driving, and what it will do for my gas bill. I'm not buying it because of a political theme or agenda. I love the work GM put into this long before Obama was president. My soapbox to all is drive what you want, what blows your hair back, what you can afford, and quit carping about what everyone else should do. It really still is a free country, and I'll continue to clutch my gun and bible to defend the ingenuity of American talent and technology, and the right to drive whatever the hell one wants. I'm very amused after reading these posts that so many on the right or left will assume to know who I am, for whom I will vote, or what I believe about the environment, economy or where I stand, because I will this week choose to drive a Volt. Damn right- I'll take the subsidies and RUN. Best wishes to all. I would defend the right of each of you to have your say.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012 at 11:04 PM

Pete in USA replied:

Best damn thing I've read today!

If you hate subsidizing the rich...where were in for the Hummer Subsidy?

"The Bush administration has proposed tripling a little-know tax deduction that dermatologists, real estate agents, accountants or business consultants can use to buy the biggest SUVs.

It's a highly stimulating provision in the administration's economic stimulus program. The loophole would allow someone who buys an $102,581 Hummer H1 for "business purposes" to deduct $87,135 from his taxes immediately. Seriously. Good deal if you can get it.

In December, The Detroit News first reported that lots of self-employed dentists and lawyers were gettin' it. The auto industry's hometown paper also was the first to figure out that the new Bush plan would turn the SUV loophole into a four-car garage in the tax code.

"Oh, you've got to be kidding," said Skip Barnett, a Hummer dealer in Atlanta when the News told him about the Bush tax plan's new SUV subsidy. "That would make a Hummer practically free." Bingo."

Sunday, December 2, 2012 at 3:46 PM