Military Buying Chevy Volts as Glitches Surface

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It seems that the supply of taxpayer money available to support the Chevy Volt is never ending. Add the Department of Defense to the list of agencies tapping into the seemingly endless taxpayer funds to purchase Volts, as reported by Stripes.com. The US Military is buying Volts just as a recent poll at GM-Volt.com reveals that over 12% of Volt owners have had electrical problems with the vehicle.

A Marine Corps (pronounced "kawr", not "kawrps") Air Station in Miramar California received a couple of the Volts last month. Chris Manis, deputy director of installations and logistics, spoke of the Marines' green mission when he stated, "Our goal is to reduce our needs of fossil fuels and lower greenhouse gas emissions," adding, "We can cut back and still execute the missions we need to complete." And all this time I thought the military's role was to protect the country.

Miramar has also installed four charging stations and solar panels to power them. I don't know exactly what Mr. Manis speaks of when he talks of cutting back, but he can't mean cutting back on the spending of taxpayer money. There is no way that taxpayers come out ahead by purchasing $40,000 Volts, charging stations and solar panels when vehicles that cost half as much as the Volt can do the job without the chargers and solar panels.

This is just the latest green folly for our military, which has recently been criticized for a costly venture into biofuel use. Taxpayers have paid $59 a gallon for biofuel as logic seems to be trumped by ideology and cronyism. I would argue that it is unwise to have our national security be dependent upon new technologies that are unproven, particularly at such a huge cost to taxpayers.

As our military joins the Obama Administrations' "damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!" spendthrift approach to the attempt of electrifying America's auto fleet, reports have surfaced of electrical glitches with the Chevy Volt. 12.3% of owners polled have reported that their Volt refused to start and a writer at gearlive.com claims he was almost killed as a result of his Volt dying on the road. The poll was done by the very pro-Volt group at GM-Volt.com. The vast majority of participants at the site seem very satisfied with their cars and it wouldn't surprise me if the above linked poll is removed as word gets out of the Volt problems.  While most Volt owners seem to accept the glitches as part of their noble quest to be early adopters of plug-in technology, the question is whether our military should be buying costly vehicles that have a 12% rate of failure. The Chevy Volt has not been on the road long enough to predict the ultimate costs and reliability of the vehicles.

It doesn't seem like there will be any backing down from the Chevy Volt hype and less chance that there will be a reduction in the spending on wasteful green initiatives of the Obama Administration. Despite the governmental help, only 1,849 Volts were sold in July. This number falls far short of goals, but that doesn't prevent proponents from touting the low sales as a success as other plug-in vehicles are selling in even more dismal numbers. Perhaps it is time for proponents of the Volt to consider that the sales numbers for plug-in electric vehicles reflect a failure of the segment as opposed to a success for the Volt. And congress should consider whether converting our troops to plug-in vehicles, solar panels, wind mills and biofuels is benefiting our country's security or only benefiting a green agenda that seems to enrich cronies.

Mark Modica is an NLPC Associate Fellow.

UPDATE: As expected, the folks at GM-Volt.com removed the negative survey which exposed Volt problems. Here's another link:  Voltproblems.com