Last week's earnings report from General Motors revealed a troubling statistic for shareholders. GM's market share for North America shrunk from 18.3% a year ago to 16.7% for the latest quarter. Not coincidently, a survey by Yahoo Autos revealed that a full 13% of consumers would now "never" consider purchasing a GM vehicle while another 15% are less likely to purchase. A negative perception of the auto bailout process and the continued political overtones at GM are the reasons for the boycott.
A couple of stories surfaced recently that should be of concern to voters that are analyzing how a Romney presidency would differ from the current administration. President Obama has a track record that can be examined to get a grasp of his agenda, but Governor Romney needs to further explain his positions on two key areas that many voters would expect to see a divergence with our present leader. The reports bring in to question whether or not Romney would be any different from the administrations over the past 12 years when it comes to dumping billions of taxpayer dollars into subsidies and bailouts.
A Jacksonville.com report gives a good explanation for why some Florida localities are purchasing Chevy Volts. When Jacksonville's chief of fleet management, Karim Kurji, was asked what the advantage of going green by purchasing Volts was he hit the nail on the head when he replied, "Federal money." The story goes on to reveal that the total federal taxpayer money used to subsidize one Chevy Volt purchased by Atlantic Beach was over $33,000. It now appears obvious that the Obama Administration and General Motors are willing to pay just about any price, even if the taxpayers are footing the bill, to see the Chevy Volt "succeed."
The Obama Administration has over-stimulated the electric vehicle battery market, as companies inspired by the flow of federal stimulus support don’t have enough customers for their products.
The government promise of a coming electric car (and truck) revolution, thanks to moves such as President George W. Bush’s signature to approve a $7,500-per-electric-vehicle tax credit and Congress’s passage of the Recovery Act, instigated a buildup of capacity and inventory for batteries. Now putrid EV sales – including the newly introduced Ford Focus electric – have put their battery makers in peril, according to the Detroit Free Press.
General Motors has been quick to allay concerns that the Chevy Volt had anything to do with an explosion at a testing facility that appears to have injured five workers, one possibly seriously. The explosion has been attributed to gases from a lithium-based prototype battery being developed at GM's tech center. While the incident should not serve as an indictment against the Volt, concerns about volatile lithium-ion batteries are legitimate.
Another important story goes unreported by TV networks receiving millions of dollars in ad revenue from General Motors. Viewers getting their news from Obama-friendly sources continue to hear about how great GM is doing. For those getting their news from internet sites not beholden to Government Motors, the reports aren't as good. March US market share for GM fell to 17.5% in March, the lowest level for "Old" or "New" GM since 1922.
The report by the NY Times that it would take up to 27 years for Chevy Volt buyers to save enough money in gas costs to make up for the high price of the car must be very confusing for apologists of the vehicle. The normal defense for any criticism is to accuse sources of having a right wing hate of the car. But the NY Times? The very vocal Volt defenders, who are quick to attack anyone who doesn't agree that the car is a technological marvel worthy of billions of dollars of taxpayer largess, will have to attribute the left-leaning Times' criticism to something other than a political agenda.
One thing that I have realized about the rhetoric surrounding green energy initiatives and the proclamations by Team Obama glorifying companies like General Motors while vilifying others like ExxonMobil is that the claims and the facts are worlds apart. Voters are led to believe that evil oil companies like ExxonMobil are getting a free pass and not paying their fair share while the supposedly patriotic GM is an American success story which now contributes to society and builds miracle cars like the Chevy Volt which will free the US from foreign oil dependence. One set of facts that is very easy to check on is the amount of taxes each of these companies pays. Following are the facts from the SEC annual financial reports (10Ks) of GM and ExxonMobil.