Millions Spent on Ads Does Little for Chevy Volt Sales

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Volt/AliensIt looks like there is plenty of inventory of Chevy Volts available for those aliens that seemed to be so impressed with the car on Super Bowl Sunday. Unfortunately for General Motors, earthlings do not seem as enamored with President Obama's favorite vehicle. Despite GM spending millions of dollars during the month to advertise the taxpayer subsidized Volt, only 1,023 sold in February.

The pitiful sales number is not stopping the ridiculous headlines on the web by proponents of the Volt. One reads, "Chevy Volt Sales Sizzle" as others brag about the car outselling the even more dismally selling Nissan Leaf. One shill site stated that the Volt outsold the Leaf by a "massive" margin of 545 units. Given the fact that GM outspent Nissan by millions of dollars on ads, we can guesstimate the added advertising cost per additional vehicle sold at about $10,000. In addition to the ad spending, GM is now offering 0% for 60 months on the Volt through government owned Ally financial to help spur sales.  Economics obviously has nothing to do with Government Motors' Volt push.

Notably absent from the sales figures were purchases by crony company, General Electric. GE is insisting that all employees drive company supplied Volts or not get reimbursed for their vehicles. Non-credible sources that continually falsely tout the Volt as a success claim that GE is doing this to save money. Considering that the fuel savings for the Volt amount to about $2 a day and that the vehicles cost approximately $15,000 (even after tax credits) more than gas-powered fuel efficient vehicles, the more likely reason for GE's backing of the Volt relates to their vested interest in selling chargers for the vehicles.

President Obama has also staked his reputation on the Volt, recently stating that he would buy one in five years. That might not be a bad idea if he plans to buy used. The car is sure to depreciate a great deal in five years time; he should be able to get a much better deal then. Maybe his pals at GE can sell him one of their fleet vehicles at that time. That is, when they have a fleet, which suspiciously appears to be timed for when we get a bit closer to November elections.

GM and friends have complained about the politics surrounding the Volt, yet President Obama continues to pitch the vehicle. I guess GM is fine with politics as long as it benefits them, such as happened with the Obama orchestrated bankruptcy process which shored up GM's balance sheet by $50,000,000,000 (courtesy of taxpayers) while favoring the politically powerful UAW. GM now wants to condemn anyone who criticizes the Volt as having a right wing political agenda. Do you really have to have a political agenda to think that it is wrong to spend billions of taxpayer dollars subsidizing a car for the wealthy that does practically nothing for oil dependence or the average working American?

GM can obviously no longer blame lack of supply for the poor Volt sales performance. The NHTSA investigation has been completed and there is now no longer an overhang from safety concerns relating to Volt fires. In true Government Motors' fashion, they may continue to try and blame Republicans for hurting sales, but only extreme left wingers will believe that one. Anyone paying attention should be able to understand that the vehicle just doesn't offer the value that most consumers are looking for. And the supposed Volt owners who write about how they are saving thousands of dollars a year and love their vehicles are beginning to look more like plants as anyone with simple math skills can figure out how little can really be saved by running on electricity for 30 to 35 miles. In fact, if the $15,000 saved by not purchasing a Volt was invested and earned only half the Bernie Madoff-like 11% return that GM managed to earn on their pension funds, you can earn more than the gas savings a Volt could obtain.

There is really no reason to debate whether the Volt is or is not a wonderful vehicle. The numbers speak for themselves. Those that continue to fight the battle to convince the masses that the Volt is a technological wonder are only losing credibility to the point where it is an embarrassment. Politicians and General Motors should be questioned as to why they continue the hoax. And the ludicrous tax credits that go to the 1% who can afford the vehicles should be ended.

Mark Modica is an NLPC Associate Fellow.