Fresh off the heels of its European Car of the Year award, the Chevy Volt has been named “Vincentric Best Value in America.” You just can’t make this stuff up. I didn’t know that there were so many awards in the auto industry, but the less that the Volt sells, the more awards it seems to win. After this latest award, it dawned on me that the Chevy Volt is eerily like Wilbur, the prize-winning pig from the classic children’s tale, Charlotte’s Web.
Wilbur was a runt of a pig, destined to go to the slaughter house. He is befriended by Charlotte A. Cavitica, a spider who realizes Wilbur’s days are numbered if she can not promote enough hype to save the pig. Charlotte spins her web in eloquent fashion above Wilbur’s pen. She spells out accolades describing Wilbur, starting with “some pig.” The hype builds as the desperation to save Wilbur grows. Subsequent webs declare Wilbur as “terrific” and “radiant.” The whole barnyard pitches in until the public is fooled into believing the webs and Wilbur’s life is spared.
So now we have the endless accolades for the Chevy Volt, despite the fact that the public doesn’t seem to want the car. The equivalent to the helpful barnyard animals in the automotive version of Charlotte’s Web feature not only General Motors (with Bob Lutz now in Charlotte’s role), but the Obama Administration, mainstream media and, playing the role of Templeton the Rat, General Electric.
You see, Templeton didn’t have much sympathy for Wilbur, but he learns that if Wilbur dies he will no longer be able to feed at the pig’s trough. And the green energy trough that feeds GE is filled with billions of dollars supplied by taxpayers. It is certainly worth the price of the thousands of Volts GE is buying to ensure that the trough continues to be filled; and President Obama has been a very generous farmer in dealing out the feed. Helping to save both the pig and the farmer would greatly benefit GE.
When spinning her well-meaning web of deceit, Charlotte says something about “people will believe anything…” This philosophy now drives a strategy of proponents for the Volt who currently blame low sales of the vehicles on a right wing campaign to kill the car instead of the obvious reason that the car is too expensive for what it offers. Like the first of Charlotte’s webs, the previous excuse that supply could not keep up with demand just wasn’t enough and more webs of deceit need to be spun.
Unlike the children’s tale, the Chevy Volt story is costing taxpayers billions of dollars. GM loses thousands of dollars on every vehicle sold, so the motivation to save the car from the slaughterhouse appears to be political in nature. Like Wilbur, the car will continue to get accolades; after all, there are people in very high places that have a vested interest in seeing the vehicle succeed. The price of feed, or in the case of the Volt, subsidies, may have to go up to save the pig…I mean car. American taxpayers are expected to believe that the “terrific” and “radiant” green agenda is worth raising EV subsidies (which go to wealthy purchasers of the vehicles) to $10,000. I don’t know if Charlotte will be right about people believing anything, but all I can say is “that’s some pig!”
Mark Modica is an NLPC Associate Fellow.