GM Recalls Chevy Volt

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Last night, NLPC Associate Fellow Paul Chesser discussed the Chevy Volt recall with Neil Cavuto on the Fox Business Network. Here's a transcript:

Neil Cavuto:  ...Forget Volt sales and that they are far from catching fire. Apparently the cars really are in danger of catching fire. GM is recalling nearly 8,000 Chevy Volts for what they're calling enhancements. I actually hate it when people do that but that's what they're calling them, enhancements, aimed at preventing the battery from bursting into flames. The National Legal and Policy Center's Paul Chesser says that this recall should be a wake-up call for the government to just stop this nonsense. Just get out of this whole subsidizing, tax crediting, everything having to do with this stuff, right?

Paul Chesser:  Neil, you're not supposed to call it a recall. GM's not calling it a recall. The government's not calling it a recall.

Neil Cavuto:  What is it?

Paul Chesser:  It's short of a recall. They're just asking nicely for people to bring the cars back so they can take care of this little leak that they have this coolant problem leak with the vehicles.

Neil Cavuto:  Well, what does the letter, what does the letter say, Paul?

Paul Chesser:  Well, I haven't read the letter but it says that they have this coolant leak around the battery. They're going to strengthen the structure around the battery pack and put a sensor on the battery.

Neil Cavuto:  But they don't say you might want to bring it in because this is there's just the teeniest little possibility it could blow up on you.

Paul Chesser:  Actually, they say, well, National Highway Transportation Safety Administration is not calling this a recall so therefore it's not an official recall.

Neil Cavuto:  OK, but it is an enhancement.

Paul Chesser:  Get it straight, but it's a recall and they're calling these things back and Neil, this is what you get when government is trying to force and subsidize a technology into the market that's not ready for it. They push these things out. They push the cars out. They put the charger system out. They push the batteries out, all subsidized by taxpayers whereas and therefore there wasn't any risk to GM, there wasn't any risk to private business to be more careful about the product they put out there and because the taxpayers' going to handle it. So this is the kind of thing that we've seen.

Neil Cavuto:  The paltry sales of this thing...I always felt, no matter what you think of this vehicle...I think it is stupid. That is my bias. I'm sorry. But if people really wanted it, they would buy it, right? When you are throwing subsidies, 7,500 dollar cash back to get it now and credit the cost of the vehicle itself would even be much, much more expensive if not for the government protections afforded it. And people still aren't buying it. That should tell you something, right?

Paul Chesser:  That is right. Last time I was on with you, Neil, USA Today was reporting has the EV lost its spark. And we said it has never had a spark. And this is the kind of spark that they don't want, the spark that causes fires. And there was a story a couple weeks ago that determined, that found there was $250,000 per car subsidizing the Volt.

Neil Cavuto:  But the Nissan Leaf, it doesn't get any subsidies. Right? And it's, by comparison, selling much better, right?

Paul Chesser:  They got a $1.4 billion loan guarantee from the Department of Energy to retrofit a plant in Tennessee to build the Leaf. Carlos Hosan, the CEO of Nissan, has said that wherever the subsidies are, that is where he is going to go. Well, Portugal dropped the subsidies for a manufacturing plant. So what did Nissan do? They shut down that plant.

Neil Cavuto:  To be fair, Paul, you are of the mind set -- just to get clear, you don't like subsidies for anybody. You don't think that should be happening at all, let alone for an industry right now that's as untested.

Paul Chesser:  Well, can we afford them, is one thing. The other thing is let the free market determine whether these things will be successful or not.

Neil Cavuto:  There is a concept. There is a concept. Very good having you, Paul. Thank you very much, Paul Chesser.

Paul Chesser:  Thanks, Neil.