The Associated Press has reported that new fires involving the Chevy Volt have prompted NHTSA to open an investigation to assess the risks for the vehicle. Two Volts that had been crash-tested by the government agency recently caught fire or "emitted smoke and sparks." This follows an incident that occurred about 6 months ago when a Volt burst into flames three weeks after a crash-test. Considering that NHTSA delayed informing the public of that incident, will it be possible for an agency of the Executive Branch of government to now give a fair assessment of the risks of a vehicle that General Motors and the Obama Administration have hyped and gambled much credibility (as well as billions of taxpayer dollars) on?
Every once in a while I come across an article that sheds light on what a boondoggle the green initiatives of the Obama Administration are. The latest evidence comes as General Motors tries to prove high consumer demand for the Chevy Volt as it tries to meet its goal of 10,000 vehicles sold in 2011. The Orlando Sentinel reports that the town of DeLand, FL is buying five Chevy Volts. That is not the disturbing part of the story. The article reports that the town is using taxpayer money it has received from a $1.2 million federal grant that is earmarked partially to help with the purchase of alternative-fuel vehicles and other energy-efficient upgrades, including electrical charging stations at City Hall. From the information I gathered on DeLand, it has a population of about 25,000 people.
Over five months ago, a Chevy Volt that had been crash tested weeks earlier and was sitting in a government storage facility burst into flames. The story was just recently reported by news outlets like the New York Times, a source that certainly can not be accused of being on a right wing witch hunt to discredit electric cars. The Chevy Volt has been very controversial with questions raised regarding the rush to electrify America's auto fleet at the expense of taxpayers, particularly when the main player in the field is an entry of Government Motors. The latest question that has yet to be asked is, "why did NHTSA delay reporting the spontaneously combusting Volt?"
General Motors reported disappointing earnings yesterday and share price fell over 11% (compared to about 3% for broader markets) to $22 and change, down 33% from its IPO offering at $33 about a year ago. Taxpayers saw a paper loss of over $1 billion on their "investment" in just one day. Individual investors may have been confused by initial headlines that trumpeted an earnings beat by GM at the same time that pre-market share price signaled that the earnings report was a disappointment. Let's take a look at what drove the move as well as where GM may be heading.
General Motors has gotten much attention on its controversial Chevy Volt tax-subsidized vehicle. The hype for the Volt started over two years ago as GM was trying to put a positive face on the future green potential of a plug-in vehicle that was to be a game changer for the industry as Washington was lobbied for a taxpayer funded bailout. While the final verdict on the success of the Volt has not been reached, the initial performance is underwhelming; especially considering the amount of hype and marketing money (supplied by taxpayers) emanating from GM.
Cars in Depth reports that the Chevy Volt and it's charging station are suspected as possible causes for a house fire that started in the garage of a Mooresville, NC home. According to the report, investigators found a Volt plugged into a charging station located in the burned out garage. The Iredell County Fire Marshal's office investigating the fire states, "The charging station was in the known area of origin, but the cause of the fire has not been officially determined."
Back in April of this year I wrote about the covert bailout that was buried in the Obamacare bill which gives $5 billion of taxpayer money to unions, states (for public employees) and corporations for health care coverage for retirees aged between 55 and 64. The program is called the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program or ERRP. The UAW is the largest single beneficiary, receiving over 200 million dollars. General Motors also gets a piece of the pork with about a 20 million dollar cut. A recent report by the Washington Examiner identifies early retirees (many of whom are being paid over $100,000 a year in pension payments) of the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) as the other top recipient of about 200 million dollars.
General Motors has staked much of its credibility on the Chevy Volt. GM has a goal of selling 10,000 of the vehicles in 2011 and is only about half way there with two months remaining. Ad spending seems to have ramped up faster than sales though with much of GM's marketing dollars going towards Volt commercials while only 1,108 of the vehicles sold in October. I can't remember ever seeing as many TV ads for a vehicle that has sold in such low numbers. Despite the low proportionate sales to hype ratio for the Volt, sites like Mother Nature Network are proclaiming success for the Volt with the headline reading "October was a great month for Chevy Volt Sales."
Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, has called for a congressional investigation into the Obama Administration's green energy loans to start-up electric/hybrid carmakers, Fisker and Tesla. Romney rightfully criticizes the wasteful spending on risky green initiatives that are costing Americans billions of dollars while offering little in the way of job creation, environmental benefits or foreign oil independence. Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa) also called for an investigation. And while Romney and Murphy deserve kudos for trying to bring some sanity to the wasteful green policies of the White House, there are many with extreme environmental and political views who are trying to defend the indefensible.
The wasteful and incomprehensible "green" energy policies of the Obama Administration continue to be exposed as a rip-off of American taxpayers. The latest insane venture involves hybrid auto start-up company, Fisker. While the story of Fisker receiving a $529 million loan from the Department of Energy has been widely reported, less known is the fact that green energy charlatan, Al Gore, may have played a key role in obtaining the loan.