Warner Todd Huston
No spark: the unanswered questions of the Chevy Volt
By Warner Todd Huston
August 23, 2011

Every time we turn around these days President Obama is touting the idea that the "future" of America lies in green energy and one of those greenie ideas is an Obama favorite: electric cars. Not to let him down, Government Motors has obliged by pushing the Chevy Volt as the car of the future. But thus far the future looks a lot like GM's present; a whole lot of failure leaving a whole lot of questions.

While Obama continues to tout his — meaning our — investment in GM others are not so sanguine. For instance, billionaire Warren Buffet has invested in a Chinese electric car company instead of putting his considerable investment acumen to use with the Chevy Volt. Buffet may be a dolt on taxes, but apparently his investing senses haven't gotten any spark from the Volt.

One of the reasons that Buffet went for the Chinese company is that some of its technology seems superior to various systems of the Chevy Volt. According to Forbes, Buffet has targeted the company because the, "car can travel 186 miles, more than the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt, on a single charge with a top speed of 87 miles per hour."

Naturally, sales of the Chevy Volt are dismal and have been for quite some time. Sadly, some reviewers are saying that the Volt is overly flashy and techy and isn't a good value for the money, so no help for GMs sales record there.

Even lefty profs at Berkeley could see that the Volt was a horrible investment. Berkeley physicist Leon J. Schipper, for one, was not enamored of the Volt.

    Analyzing the Chevy Volt, the new sedan that is supposed to go 40 miles on batteries and then use a gasoline engine, he calculated that because of inefficiencies in electricity generation, its fuel economy was no better than a Toyota Prius hybrid running on gasoline, while its price was roughly double that of the Prius.

    "Does the extra $20,000 justify the overall fuel and possible carbon dioxide savings?" he asked. "If two drivers switched to Prius, the overall savings of oil likely would be larger than one driver switching to a Volt, for the same money."

So, why should the American people sit idly by while GM pumps even more money into the Volt, a car consumers don't want? Maybe because wealthy environmental activists think it's wonderful and seem to imagine that sales will grow up from the ground as if by magic.

Great, isn't it? We have political considerations programming GM instead of having sales and technological reasons guiding the company We The People bailed out. Sounds like a good deal for the American people's Government Motors, doesn't it?

When all is said and done, it seems that even as GM execs are talking up the Volt, GM CEO Dan Akerson, a Chevy Volt evangelist who refers to GM's newest EV as "not a step forward, but a leap forward," led the kick-off parade at a recent event riding in.....a gas-guzzling 1960 Corvette!

When he had a chance to tout his supposedly favorite new car, Akerson instead went for an old gas hog that gets 12 miles to the gallon.

Whatever is going on, none of it sounds good for Government Motors' Chevy Volt, now does it?

© Warner Todd Huston


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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Warner Todd Huston

Warner Todd Huston's thoughtful commentary, sometimes irreverent often historically based, is featured on many websites... (more)

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