Roger’s Rules

My contribution to the car industry

This morning, TheWashington Post reports that the new novelty automobile from Government (formerly “General”) Motors will carry a price tag of $41,000 when it goes on sale in November. At that price, the Volt (or “ObamaVolt,” as some are calling it) is not likely to have mass appeal. George Magliano, an automotive industry forecaster, put it delicately when he opined that “I’m not sure the Volt is going to be a volume vehicle.”

Not a “volume vehicle,” eh? That’s PR-lingo for “bad news, Buster, you’ve got another Edsel on your hands.”

“Volume vehicle” is good, I admit. But it’s not nearly as good as this little gem: “The Chevrolet Volt will be the best vehicle in its class . . . because it’s in a class by itself.” That’s Joel Ewanick, vice president of U.S. marketing for GM. Good going, Joel! Take another chunk of that dough the Obama administration lifted out of the pockets of taxpayers so that GM could continue pretending to be a going concern. That shiny little tautology masquerading as a commendation you uttered is a classic. You bet the ObamaVolt is “in a class by itself!” “Johnny may be a moron, but he is the best in his class because he is the only one in his class.” Of course, no one would actually accuse Johnny of being a moron. Rather, he is “differently abled.” Likewise with the ObamaVolt.

Here’s one contribution I’d like to make to the debate over the future of the American car industry. For those companies that are subsidized by the government, criticism should be forbidden because it is environmentally reactionary. I’ll go further. Not only should criticism be forbidden, accurate performance statistics should be classified. If prospective car buyers compare the ObamaVolt to other cars, they are likely to pick the other cars. So anyone who cares about the planet and progressive thought will understand that, when it comes to the ObamaVolt, ignorance is bliss.

So what do you think: is the ObamaVolt a disaster waiting to happen? Not necessarily. Sure, it’s expensive and can only travel about 40 miles per battery charge. (It can putt another 340 miles on a gasoline powered generator, but wasn’t the whole point to eschew the evil-gasoline powered engine?) Thinking of passing that Beamer on the highway? Think again, Kemo Sabe. The ObamaVolt includes many patented SafetyPerformanceRetarding features (SPRFs) for the convenience of regulators. For example, its emisson-free engine delivers next to no horsepower so you won’t even be tempted to speed. Think how much you’ll save in tickets!

And consider these pluses:

1. The car will be available only in various shades of green (Bilious Green, Envy Green, Lettuce Green, Edamame Green etc.), thus declaring to the world that its owners are environmentally sensitive persons.

2. The radios are specially calibrated to substitute any station carrying Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, or other unacceptable talk show hosts with a local NPR station, so no one who rides in an ObamaVolt need worry about second-hand pollution from racist, right-wing views.

3. Offsetting the high sticker price for what is really a glorified go-cart, the United States government, in addition to bailing out G.M., has extracted billions more from taxpayers like you and me in order to provide the suckers, er, proud buyers of the ObamaVolt with a $7,500 federal tax credit.

Snap Quiz: which of these three implausible pluses is actually true?

At press time, it is only number 3, but who knows? When he was on the hustings in 2008, Barack Obama pledged to put 1 million such vehicles on the road by 2015.

Now you might be saying that by 2015 the name “Barack Obama” is likely to be fading away like a bad dream. Perhaps. Hope springs eternal. But again, who knows? And it’s only 2010 now. He more than two years more to effect his transformation of the United States into a worker’s paradise à la Eastern Europe 1950. Wot larks!