General Motors is making more ridiculous claims on the Chevy Volt by flooding the web with stories of how 100 million electric miles have been driven since the Volt’s much-hyped inception. Let’s put the boasting in perspective. In the two plus years that it took for Volt drivers to put on 100 million miles, gas-powered vehicles logged over 5 TRILLION miles in the US. It would take only 5,000 cars traveling 10,000 miles a year to log 100 million miles in two years. The Volt has fallen far short of sales goals and has cost taxpayers billions of dollars in subsidies to reach the much-publicized but unimpressive milestone. So, what’s the net reduction in gas usage in the US as a result of the Volt’s accomplishment? Less than .002%.
Only the most extreme green energy ideologue and Volt proponent could brag about saving less than .002% of gas at the cost of billions of taxpayer dollars. But logic has never come into play when wasting taxpayer money to support failing green initiatives like the Volt. When you put the statistics in perspective, the truth about the Volt surfaces. And the truth is that the car has been a much-hyped, politically-motivated waste of taxpayer money that is losing money for GM shareholders as well as for taxpayers.
GM has spent hundreds of millions of dollars marketing President Obama’s favorite car only to sell less than 30,000 Volts in two years. Toyota sells about that many Camrys in just one month! But GM would rather focus on cars that compete in a plug-in segment with no demand where average sales are closer to a thousand a month. Worse yet, the Volt loses money with every unit sold. Trying to fool the public with deceptive claims that measure success in terms of millions of miles driven or supertankers full of gas saved only makes GM appear more politically driven and less credible.
Sensationalized claims like the “100 million miles driven” are further circulated by friends of GM and the Volt as well as green energy extremists. The truth is that sales figures for the Volt have been dismal and would have been even worse if GM did not prop up sales prior to the presidential election by throwing money at subsidized leases offered by government-owned Ally Financial so that motorists could take advantage of tax credits of $7,500 per vehicle to put the cars on the road for as little as two years. As I previously reported, taxpayers paid $10 for every gallon of gas saved on those deals. GM has admitted that there is no market for the Volt, yet they continue to spend millions of dollars marketing a vehicle that loses them money.
GM refuses to back down from its plug-in vehicle focus and now is hyping the new Korean-built electric Chevy Spark. The Spark will compete with the Nissan Leaf which has sold even more dismally than the Volt. Plans are also in the works for plug-in Cruzes and Caddies as Volt sales recede to levels half of those just prior to election day. GM has disingenuously blamed lack of supply for the diminished Volt sales, an excuse they have tried before which was discredited here. A recent search of new Volt inventory on cars.com showed an ample supply of over 3,600 new Volts available, well over a 60 day supply based on November sales.
More billions of taxpayer dollars are sure to be wasted on plug-in vehicles in the form of tax credits that will go to the wealthy purchasers of the vehicles. As misguided as this waste is, Congressional Republicans do not seem to have the will to stand in the way of any spending or lost tax revenue proposed by the Obama Administration to pursue a green energy agenda that does little for the average American. The taxpayers that are footing the bill have the right to know just how little they are getting for the billions of dollars spent to promote vehicles like the Chevy Volt. Specifically, taxpayers lost billions of dollars so that wealthy Chevy Volt buyers could save less than .002% of the total gas used in America by driving 100 million miles. And that’s nothing to brag about.
Mark Modica is an NLPC Associate Fellow.