John Ransom

General Motors reached another Obama milestone when they announced late on a Friday afternoon that they were suspending production of the Obama-inspired Chevy Volt for five weeks due to lack of demand. 

Presumably the Volt was an attempt by GM to help Obama with his pledge to put 1 million electric cars on the road in return for the tens of billions of dollars in forgivable “loans” that the company got from the Obama administration from the TARP bailout.

The hybrid gas-electric vehicle gets 25 miles on a full, overnight charge and costs around $40,000. To date, GM has sold around 10,000 vehicles. To put it in perspective, the Chevy Corvette has a sticker price of $49,600.  

If the Volt’s not in the federal witness protection program, it ought to be.

“Sales also took a hit last fall when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened a probe into why two Volts burst into flames days or weeks after severe NHTSA crash testing,” reports USA Today. Leaks from the cooling system were caused by shortages in the electrical system that prompted the fires. But the discovery came only after weeks of bad press for GM. Eventually the car company offered to buy back every single Volt for any consumer who was unhappy.     

But lack of sales- and production- hasn’t stopped the government-owned car company from mapping out a marketing strategy that might have been fashioned by the marketing geniuses of the IRS and the United States Postal Service combined: “The Volt’s technology and its recent accolade from Consumer Reports make the Volt a marketing tool for Chevy,” said Alan Batey, vice president for Chevrolet U.S. sales, at the beginning of December according to Bloomberg. “This vehicle is about more than how many we sell,” Batey said. “This vehicle is a magnet around everything we are trying to do to showcase our brand.”

If that’s the case, it looks like a poor magnet and a poor tool. And taxpayers, who are still owed billions by the company, are about to get screwed even worse in the coming months.

The website ExtremeTech calculates that the car costs about 6.3 cents per mile when running on electricity at 13 cents per kilowatt hour. But that rate ignores depreciating the cost of a replacement battery ($8,000) over the life of the battery warranty.


John Ransom

John Ransom is the Finance Editor for Townhall Finance.