The Scene: An executive conference room at General Motors HQ. The mood: grim.
CEO: “Thanks for that report, Tom. What’s next on the agenda, Bob?”
Executive Vice President #1: “Uh, Steve Jenkins from Chevrolet is here to report on the Volt task force.”
CEO: (Perking up) “Ah! Some good news at last!”
Jenkins: (Nervously) “Uh, Mr. Chairman, I’m afraid the news isn’t so good…”
CEO: (Frowning) “Just get on with it.”
Jenkins: (Swallows) “Well, the Volt is only getting about 25 miles per charge…”
Executive Vice President #2: “Wasn’t it supposed to get 50?”
Executive Vice President #3: “Nah. That was marketing hype. Forty is more like it.”
CEO: “Forty? Didn’t I just hear Jenkins say 25?”
Jenkins: (Sweating) “Well, Mr. Chairman, it seems that customers are insisting on carrying passengers, using air conditioning, the heater, the radio, lights, turn signals, and other accessories like that.”
EVP#3: “Oh yeah. That kind of frivolous, luxury stuff will really drain the battery fast.”
CEO: (Sighs) “Go on.”
Jenkins: (Wipes sweat from his brow) “Uh, well, our sales volume is (whispered) 1210 units…”
CEO: “What’s that? How many?”
Jenkins: (Pale and stuttering, a little louder) “Uh, um, 1210 units?”
CEO: “One thousand two hundred and ten units?! For last month?
Jenkins: (About to pass out) “Well, uh no, that’s…that’s for 2011.”
CEO: ”For 2011?! But that’s not enough profit to keep the employee restrooms in toilet paper!”
Chief Accountant: “Actually, if we use the new, low-fiber content toilet tissue, the kind you can actually see through, it…” (CEO shoots him an angry look and he shuts up) “…ahem.”
CEO: “Isn’t there any good news about this battery-powered wonder?”
Jenkins: (Nervously clears his throat) “Well sir, the heater works better than we thought it would.”
CEO: “The heater? Better?”
EVP#2: “Actually Mr. Chairman, we didn’t expect it to work at all, but it has proved to be at least substandard.”
EVP#3: “Oh, at least substandard, Mr. Chairman, easily.” (EVP#2 and EVP#3 nod in happy agreement)
Executive Secretary: (Bursts breathlessly into the room) “Mr. Chairman, Mr. Chairman!”
CEO: “What is it?”
ES: “We’re saved!” (Triggers a remote control and the massive bar along one side of the room transforms, Bond-villain-like, into an enormous TV screen) “Look!”
Barack Obama fills the screen. The executives prostrate themselves before the screen for several minutes as Mr. Obama conducts a stirring teleprompter reading. At the conclusion of the reading, all heads turn, expectantly, toward the CEO.
CEO: (Aside to EVP#1) “Crank up the assembly line! We’re going to sell every unit of this sucker we make.” (To the assembled executives) “Bonuses for everybody! It’s on the taxpayers!”
The scene fades, executives raising a rousing cheer amid backslapping, booze swilling, etc.
What did the excited GM executives learn? In a March 30 speech in Washington, Mr. Obama announced his mandate that 100% of the federal vehicle fleet be “advanced technology” vehicles by 2015. This means that every vehicle in the federal fleet — some 600,000 currently — will have to be a hybrid or electric vehicle. In an extraordinary coincidence of the kind so common during the Age of Obama, General Electric — headed by Jeffrey Immelt, the chief of the president’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness — will contribute to the brave new “advanced technology” future by buying at least 12,000 Chevy Volts.
For taxpayers, this mandate means extraordinary and unnecessary additional costs. For example, the conventionally fueled Chevy Cruze, the platform on which the Volt is based, would cost approximately $17,000 per unit. For 100 vehicles, that’s $1,700,00. Replace those with the Volt at $41,000 per unit and the figure skyrockets to $4,100,000. It’s just too frightening to contemplate the cost of 600,000 Volts. Hybrid vehicles cost substantially more than comparable conventional vehicles. While it might be possible, with very conservative driving, to recoup that additional initial expense with money saved through higher mileage for some hybrids, the taxpayer will be forever in the hole for every Volt purchased.
Don’t some government employees, law enforcement officers, park rangers, or BLM employees require SUVs, pickups, trucks, or other specialized vehicles that do not come in “advanced technology” trappings? Can a dead moose fit in the trunk of a Volt? I think there’s a joke in there somewhere. Mr. Obama’s mandate, of course, has a loophole that exempts him, allowing him to travel in style in enormous, conventional SUVs.