The Follies and Foibles of the Chevy Volt

On November 28, GM North American President Mark Reuss announced that Chevrolet would provide conventionally powered loaner vehicles for Volt customers. But on December 1, GM CEO Dan Akerson upped the ante and announced that GM would buy back any Volt whose owner was concerned about spontaneously combusting. Ackerson also said:

We want to assure the safety of our customers, of our buyers, and so we're just going to take a time out, if you will, in terms of redesigning the battery possibly.

Unsurprisingly, the European introduction of the Volt has been "delayed," which reasonable, flammable people might expect of a vehicle that can spontaneously combust without warning.

Like so much of the "product" output of the Obama administration, the Volt is full of features that any rational being -- or rational manufacturer -- would consider fatal bugs. Consider:

(1) Even with a $7,500 government (taxpayer) tax subsidy, the average Volt still costs about $33,500, not including fast charger ($2,000). It's easily possible to buy two well-equipped compact cars for that price that get mileage equal to the Volt

(2) At about the time initial owners would be trading in their Volts, they'd have virtually no resale value. Who would buy a used Volt knowing they'd have to spend around $10,000 any day to replace the battery pack? This factor alone would certainly obliterate Volt resale value and any dealer accepting a Volt on trade would be taking a major loss, which would almost certainly turn the Volt into the first "no deposit, no return" car.

(3) Mathematics is not on the Volt's side. Even if one assumes the Volt manages 100 MPG, on initial purchase price alone it is impossible to break even on gas expenditures over the cost difference between a Volt and any other high mileage, conventionally powered subcompact/compact car. The Volt simply makes no fiscal sense whatever for most Americans.

(4) While GM is neither confirming nor denying, GM is probably not making a cent manufacturing the Volt. One of their spokesmen really did call the Volt a "loss leader," which is nearly as remarkable -- and bizarre- -- as Mr. Obama's obvious pride in "leading from behind." Now that GM will at the least have to redesign, recall, and replace every Volt battery, it is more obvious than ever that the Volt is not an exercise in capitalism, but in green political wish making.

The Volt remains what it has been before the first one left the factory: an engineering exercise with not-ready-for-prime-time technology escaped from the lab, and yet another horribly costly epic failure propelled by taxpayer money into the Obama administration's bottomless borrowed-money pit of green energy debacles.

(Also see Seaton Motley's Tatler post, "Chevy Volt Costs Taxpayers Up to $250,000 Per Sale")