Monday, March 05, 2012

Obamamobile: Going Up In Smoke or Crash and Burn?

The Chevy Volt, aka the “Obamamobile” seems to have been beset with troubles from day one, in spite of being promoted and lauded by the man himself, Barack Obama. Named Motor Trends ‘Car of the Year’ in 2011 and the European 2012 ‘Car of the Year,’ as well as 2009 Green Car Vision Award, 2011 Green Car of the Year, 2011 North American Car of the Year, and 2011 World Green Car, the Volt has not lived up to expectations.

General Motors, before it became known as ‘Government Motors’ after Barack Obama bailed out the Auto Unions, oops, bailed out the financially failing company in order to save the Auto Union, has ventured towards electric vehicles before with their EV1. Also a huge disappointment, other than if you ask enthusiasts or ecologists who still believe such cars will save the planet, EV1’s just didn’t produce the reliability as do internal combustion engine cars.

Intended more as a commuter car with limited range, about 100 miles between recharges, it just wasn’t a family hauler intended for inter-state travel, as many people have used the gasoline powered cars for.

It should also be noted that a purely electric vehicle’s range is hampered in hilly environments, curved roads or if running an accessory such as heater or air conditioner, vastly reducing their range as was reported in a UK Telegraph article, London to Edinburgh by electric car: it was quicker by stagecoach covering the BBC’s test of an electric vehicle, Mini adventure: how far can an electric car go?

The report the 484 miles trip only took 4 days, much of the way traveling well below the speed limit and without running the heater to save enough battery to make it to the nest recharging station.

The EV1 died a controversial death with enthusiasts claiming conspiracies between GM, oil companies and government. That the car did not live to the expectations or reliability the average driver seeks was not even considered.

With the failing economy and the Democrats push for more “green” technology, financially plagued GM rolled the dice with the ‘plug-in hybrid’ Volt and a generous amount of bail-out tax dollars. The just over $39,000 MSRP vehicles is said by many to actually cost taxpayers $250,000 apiece due to the bail-out.

As the cars began hitting dealers, sales were very disappointing as February 2011 saw a very modest 281 units sold, down from the previous month.

Then we began hearing of reports of the cars batteries spontaneously erupting into fire, discounted shortly after by the NHTSA who claimed, “no discernible defect trend exists” and “Based on the available data, NHTSA does not believe that Chevy Volts or other electric vehicles pose a greater risk of fire than gasoline-powered vehicles.”

January 2012 saw ENR1, a company manufacturing batteries for electric vehicles join two other so called ‘green’ companies in filing chapter 11 bankruptcy, shortly after receiving multi-millions of our tax dollars to ‘stimulate’ the business.

With sales sagging, Barack Obama stood before a UAW event and vowed to buy a Chevy Volt saying, “Five years from now when I’m not president anymore, I’ll buy one and drive it myself.”

The next day saw Government Motors announcing the “temporary” halt of production of its Volt and laying off 1,300 workers.

GM spokesman Chris Lee gave the reason, “We needed to maintain proper inventory and make sure that we continued to meet market demand” adding, “We see positive trends, but we needed to make this market adjustment.”

In simpler terms, he means the public is not buying the car. Sales are weak in spite of claims of technological breakthroughs, reliability or multiple awards of the greatest car since the Edsel. For whatever reason they have, people in large enough numbers to make a difference, just do not want the Volt.

Even a temporary shutdown of production does not bode well for the car. It just might be an early indication that the Chevy Volt is destined to go the way of the Edsel, the Chevette, the Vega, the Yugo and other lemons.

But not before American taxpayers have sunk Billions of tax dollars into it.

UPDATE: Indicative of one reason Volts aren't selling very well, Suing Honda . . . Watch Out, GM!
The Honda is advertised to receive up to 50 mpg and the woman only received 30 mpg. Unsaid is what sort of driving she does in what sort of environment.

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