The PJ Tatler

Time to End Subsidies for the Chevy Volt and Other Electric Cars

The primary cheerleading outfit for the Obama administration, the New York Times, had an optimistic column in early January on its Rendevous blog that asked the question, “Will 2013 be the Year of the Electric Car?”

Last year was a good one for electric and plug-in hybrid cars, according to 2012 sales figures and experts.

For example, sales of the Chevrolet Volt, one of North America’s most popular plug-in hybrid cars, tripled in the United States, according to year-end figures.

The 23,461 Volts sold last year represented only about a third of a percent of all new passenger cars sold in the United States, but such sales might be the harbingers of an automobile market shift toward green vehicles.

Please note that when trying to put lipstick on a pig, it is usually best if you distract the animal with truffles and such lest you get a finger bitten off.

Unfortunately, if the Times had waited a couple of weeks, they wouldn’t have ended up with egg on their nice, starched shirts:

U.S. plug-in electric cars started 2013 slowly, as sales of the Chevrolet Volt, the Toyota Prius Plug-In and Nissan Leaf each had deep dropoffs in January from December.

Volt sales fell 57 percent in January from December, Leaf sales fell 56 percent and Prius Plug-In sales were down 36 percent. Industrywide, U.S. auto sales fell 23 percent from December, and rose 14.2 percent from last January.

Even after accounting for the fact that January is one of the slowest months of the year for auto sales, the dropoff for plug-in electric cars was considerable, said Michelle Krebs, analyst with

The Times actually should have had a piece on how similar the electric car industry is to the Chicago Cubs: It’s always “Wait until Next Year” which will invariably be the year as opposed to the previous year — that wasn’t.

The president promised a million plug in cars on the road by 2015. Needless to say, they aren’t going to make it. They aren’t even going to be close. And the loss leader among models is none other than the centerpiece of the president’s green revolution, the Chevy Volt.

The Volt may have tripled its sales from last year, but multiplying near zero times three isn’t very impressive, despite the herculean effort of the author of that Times piece to spin the Volt’s raging unpopularity into a positive. February Volt sales were also dismal and now we have figures for March:

President Obama and eco-mandarins around him made a very bad call when they calculated that a mix of appeals to greenies, lavish subsidies, and a marketing push from General Motors could convince the public to buy lithium-ion battery-powered electric cars in commercial quantities. The program has been an utter failure, with Volt sales falling 35% in March, on a year-to-year basis, to a paltry 1,478 units – roughly one Volt sale every other month per dealership.

The bottom line is ugly. We are not only massively subsidizing the purchase of these vehicles, we are subsidizing a bunch of loser companies in an industry that couldn’t make it on its own without our tax dollars propping them up.

How much so far?

Promoting plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles has been another long-running focus for the White House, which has also pushed for more stringent standards on fuel economy. Overall, U.S. federal policies to promote electric vehicles will cost $7.5 billion through 2019, the Congressional Budget Office said in September.

That includes $2.4 billion in grants to lithium-ion battery makers and projects to promote electric vehicles as well as $3.1 billion in loans to auto companies, intended to spur production of fuel-efficient vehicles.

The madness has to end. The White House is orchestrating the manipulation of the public, trying to fool them into believing that the Volt and other electrics are a great success. They have pulled out all the stops — begging their cronies to buy them and forcing them on the military and other government agencies:

In the past, GM claimed that lack of supply was the reason for low Volt sales. In addition, GM indignantly blamed a Republican conspiracy to hurt Volt sales as a contributing factor to the dismal sales figures for the car. Regarding supply, a recent search on showed that 6,804 new Chevy Volts are available nationwide. That’s about a five months supply! The problem is obviously a lack of demand as GM produced 2,722 Volts in March; over a thousand more than needed.

GM and the Obama Administration have done what they can to prop up sales of the Volt and give the false appearance of success. Lease terms were manipulated to manufacture demand, as GM even admitted. Crony Corporation General Electric (supplier of charging stations) agreed to purchase 15,000 of the vehicles. Localities, and even the military, used taxpayer dollars to purchase Volts. And worst of all, wealthy buyers of the Volt receive a federal tax credit of $7,500 each to purchase (or lease) the vehicles.

Such dishonesty deserves censure. Electric cars will sell when people perceive them to be equal or better than gas-powered autos. That’s how it works in a market economy and no tens of billions of government spending is going to change that basic, unalterable fact.

With an advertised 50 mile range on electric (reality checks showed the Volt to have a range closer to 30), few people will wish to commute in a car that can barely get them back and forth to work. It’s time to pull the plug on this green toad of a car and quit subsidizing such spectacular — and inept – failure.

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