Registered: Oct 2004
07-07-11 09:32 PM
From an email I received -
The Dirty Little Secret Behind The New Chevy Volt:
Patrick Michaels is a senior fellow in Environmental Studies at the Cato Institute and the editor of the forthcoming Climate Coup: Global Warming's Invasion of our Government and our Lives, as well as the author of several other books on global warming.
His Forbes column on the Chevy Volt is a case study in the nexus between big government corruption and big business subsidies. Michaels briefly recaps the consumer fraud in which GM has touted the Volt as an all-electric mass production vehicle on the supposed basis of which its sales receive a $7,500 taxpayer subsidy, and it is still overpriced and unmarketable.
Michaels notes that "sales are anemic: 326 in December, 321 in January, and 281 in February." Do you see a trend here? Michaels adds that GM has announced a production run of 100,000 cars in the first two years, and asks what appears to be a rhetorical question: "Who is going to buy all these cars?"
But wait! Keep hope alive! There is a positive answer to the question. Jeffrey Immelt's GE will buy a boatload of those uneconomic GM cars. Here the case study opens onto the inevitable political angle: Recently, President Obama selected General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt to chair his Economic Advisory Board. GE is also awash in windmills waiting to be subsidized so they can provide unreliable, expensive power. Consequently, and soon after his appointment, Immelt announced that GE will buy 50,000 Volts in the next two years, or half the total produced.
Assuming the corporation qualifies for the same tax credit, we (you and me) just shelled out $375,000,000 to a company to buy cars that no one else wants, so that GM will not tank and produce even more cars that no one wants. And this guy is the chair of Obama's Economic Advisory Board?
Michaels includes this hilarious detail in his case study: In a telling attempt to preserve battery power, the car's heater is exceedingly weak. Consumer Reports tests averaged a paltry 25 miles of electric-only running, in part because it was testing in cold Connecticut. (The GM engineer at the Auto Show said cold weather would have little effect.) It will be interesting to see what the Volt's range is on a hot, traffic-jammed summer day, when the air conditioner will really tax the batteries. When the gas engine came on, Consumer Reports got about 30 miles to the gallon of premium fuel; which, in terms of additional cost of high-test gas, drives the effective mileage closer to 27 mpg. A conventional Honda Accord, which seats 5 (instead of the Volt's 4), gets 34 mpg on the highway, and costs less than half of what CR paid, even with the tax break.
The story of the GM Volt deserves a place in the Harvard Business School curriculum....but of course, it won't. It's a classic tale of the GOVERNMENT deciding what the public needs, not the marketplace. What is one of the reasons for this? Why, to keep the UAW in business of course, because Obama owes them for his election. Starting to make sense yet?