According to a USA Today report, General Motors has decided to offer a Cadillac version of the Chevy Volt called the Converj. This follows reports that the Obama Administration will continue to hold its stake in GM. That makes sense, since a decision to build a Cadillac version of the Volt could not be based on economic considerations, but political ones.
Sales of the Chevy Volt have been horrible. The statements out of GM that the vehicle was “virtually sold out” turned out not to be true. Even in a best case scenario where sales pick up, the vehicle is a money loser for GM. What in the world would make them want to clone such a loser?
The hype for the Chevy Volt has been going on for years. The politically popular vehicle was named Car of the Year by Motor Trend whose publisher, Source Interlink, has a cozy relationship with GM. Besides having joint ventures with GM, media publications for Motor Trends’ publisher have included Chevy High Performance, Corvette Fever, GM High-Tech Performance, Super Chevy and Vette. And of course, like the TV networks, they receive huge ad revenues from GM. Talk about biased reviews! This award may even top some of Motor Trends’ past jokes which have included the Chevy Vega and Chevy Citation. At least those cars sold more than a few hundred a month and had the potential for profitability.
Motor Trend can be added to the long list of entities and people who have been losing credibility as the GM story unfolds. Also on the list are TV networks that trumpeted the Chevy Volt as a “game changer” for GM, analysts who strongly recommended GM shares as they traded in the high $30 range (now down about 35% from those levels), and Obama Administration officials like Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and ex- Auto Task Force head, Steve Rattner, who falsely claimed that taxpayers would soon get back their investment in GM. Thus far, none of the members of the lost credibility list have had the integrity to back off of their overly optimistic views of GM or the Chevy Volt.
The decision to clone the Chevy Volt is perplexing. There is not enough demand for one Volt badged under the Chevy name, why add a Cadillac version? GM has not seemed to have learned from their past mistakes of offering multiple badged, cloned vehicles. In addition GM CEO, Dan Akerson, was recently quoted as saying that GM would pursue the production of battery-only vehicles. What happened to the huge commitment to the hybrid style engineering of the Volt, which supposedly cures “range anxiety?” Such decisions are adding to the “credibility anxiety” that has plagued GM since emerging from bankruptcy.
My suspicion is that an awful lot of taxpayer money is going to get funneled to GM in the form of green energy grants and loans to produce politically popular vehicles. That would also explain why manufacturers such as GM have not been overly vocal speaking out against higher CAFÉ standards. The temptation for the Obama Administration to help GM in any way possible is too great to ignore. If skimming the surface reveals such abuses as the gaming of Chevy Volt tax credits, how much more is lurking beneath the surface? And, perhaps most importantly, when will the mainstream media regain their lost journalistic integrity by questioning the actions at GM?
Mark Modica is an NLPC Associate Fellow