Obamamobile: Going Up In Smoke or Crash and Burn?

by lewwaters

The Chevy Volt, aka the “Obamamobile” seems to have been beset with troubles from day one, in spite of being promoted and lauded by the man himself, Barack Obama. Named Motor Trends ‘Car of the Year’ in 2011 and the European 2012 ‘Car of the Year,’ as well as 2009 Green Car Vision Award, 2011 Green Car of the Year, 2011 North American Car of the Year, and 2011 World Green Car, the Volt has not lived up to expectations.

General Motors, before it became known as ‘Government Motors’ after Barack Obama bailed out the Auto Unions, oops, bailed out the financially failing company in order to save the Auto Union, has ventured towards electric vehicles before with their EV1. Also a huge disappointment, other than if you ask enthusiasts or ecologists who still believe such cars will save the planet, EV1’s just didn’t produce the reliability as do internal combustion engine cars.

Intended more as a commuter car with limited range, about 100 miles between recharges, it just wasn’t a family hauler intended for inter-state travel, as many people have used the gasoline powered cars for.

It should also be noted that a purely electric vehicle’s range is hampered in hilly environments, curved roads or if running an accessory such as heater or air conditioner, vastly reducing their range as was reported in a UK Telegraph article, London to Edinburgh by electric car: it was quicker by stagecoach covering the BBC’s test of an electric vehicle, Mini adventure: how far can an electric car go?

The report the 484 miles trip only took 4 days, much of the way traveling well below the speed limit and without running the heater to save enough battery to make it to the nest recharging station.

The EV1 died a controversial death with enthusiasts claiming conspiracies between GM, oil companies and government. That the car did not live to the expectations or reliability the average driver seeks was not even considered.

With the failing economy and the Democrats push for more “green” technology, financially plagued GM rolled the dice with the ‘plug-in hybrid’ Volt and a generous amount of bail-out tax dollars. The just over $39,000 MSRP vehicles is said by many to actually cost taxpayers $250,000 apiece due to the bail-out.

As the cars began hitting dealers, sales were very disappointing as February 2011 saw a very modest 281 units sold, down from the previous month.

Then we began hearing of reports of the cars batteries spontaneously erupting into fire, discounted shortly after by the NHTSA who claimed, “no discernible defect trend exists” and “Based on the available data, NHTSA does not believe that Chevy Volts or other electric vehicles pose a greater risk of fire than gasoline-powered vehicles.”

January 2012 saw ENR1, a company manufacturing batteries for electric vehicles join two other so called ‘green’ companies in filing chapter 11 bankruptcy, shortly after receiving multi-millions of our tax dollars to ‘stimulate’ the business.

With sales sagging, Barack Obama stood before a UAW event and vowed to buy a Chevy Volt saying, “Five years from now when I’m not president anymore, I’ll buy one and drive it myself.”

The next day saw Government Motors announcing the “temporary” halt of production of its Volt and laying off 1,300 workers.

GM spokesman Chris Lee gave the reason, “We needed to maintain proper inventory and make sure that we continued to meet market demand” adding, “We see positive trends, but we needed to make this market adjustment.”

In simpler terms, he means the public is not buying the car. Sales are weak in spite of claims of technological breakthroughs, reliability or multiple awards of the greatest car since the Edsel. For whatever reason they have, people in large enough numbers to make a difference, just do not want the Volt.

Even a temporary shutdown of production does not bode well for the car. It just might be an early indication that the Chevy Volt is destined to go the way of the Edsel, the Chevette, the Vega, the Yugo and other lemons.

But not before American taxpayers have sunk Billions of tax dollars into it.

UPDATE: Indicative of one reason Volts aren’t selling very well, Suing Honda . . . Watch Out, GM!

The Honda is advertised to receive up to 50 mpg and the woman only received 30 mpg. Unsaid is what sort of driving she does in what sort of environment.

16 Comments to “Obamamobile: Going Up In Smoke or Crash and Burn?”

  1. Just mount a few of those leftover Solyndra cells on the roof, and drive it only on sunny days:


  2. I’m SHOCKED! SHOCKED I tell ya!

    I’ve seen some pretty nice vegas. Of course, they were supercharged big blocks for the most part, and can run a 9 second quarter… but somehow, that seems to miss the target.


  3. This electric car focus is irrational. (BTW, I have a Prius.) I’m currently living in Great Britain: $12 gallon gas, narrow streets, no parking… No electric cars. (Small, high mpg cars. Lots of them!)

    Americans drive giant vehicles for status (mostly), safety (kill the other guy but keep my kids safe), and status. (Did I mention “status”?) Giant electric cars just don’t make sense, and nobody will buy small electric cars. Impossible situation.


  4. Martin, besides having to pay high prices for oil, just as our oil companies do, it should b noted that Great Britain has extremely high fuel taxes too. I’ve discussed this with some friends I have in England and they are not happy with their tax rates being so high on so many things. From Wikipedia, “From 23 March 2011 the UK duty rate for the road fuels unleaded petrol, diesel, biodiesel and bioethanol is GB£0.5795 per litre (£2.63 per imperial gallon or £2.19 per U.S. gallon). Value Added Tax at 20% is also charged on the price of the fuel and on the duty. An additional vehicle excise duty, depending on a vehicle’s CO2 production per kilometre, which depends directly on fuel consumption, is also levied. Diesel for use by farmers and construction vehicles is coloured red (Red Diesel) and has a much reduced tax, currently GB£0.1133 per litre (£0.52 per imperial gallon or £0.43 per U.S. gallon).”

    Americans drive more miles than most Europeans too. Not necessarily for daily pleasures, but when we take a trip in our cars, where we go is often much further. When I was in Germany, as our Muscle Car era was winding down, many Germans were in awe of our cars. Not so much the size, but the power they had.

    It has been shown that smaller cars are not as safe for occupants in a collision as they are in larger cars. Status seems to come more from name of the car today than size. SUVs seem to be the only large vehicles, besides pick-ups.

    Electrics just don’t offer the comfort, range or reliability that our gasoline cars have. As poor as their range is, it gets even less if you turn on the wipers, run a heater or go up down hills, much less curves. Everything draws more from the batteries and battery technology just hasn’t caught up. The Hybrids offer a little more and I think one day hydrogen fuel cells will become viable and hopefully, affordable.

    Another matter not looked at with electrics, pollution. While touted as “pollution free,” forgotten is the extra generation of electricity required to recharge them. Already being discovered is that more generation for recharging is causing and increase in Ozone, a major contributor to smog.

    Our gasoline cars or running cleaner than they ever have. They have been cut down in size over all and mileage has vastly improved. As much as the oil hating, liberty robbing left hates them, Americans still enjoy their cars.


  5. I had a debate with a CRC insider about light rail. Supposedly light rail would pay for itself in 30 years… 30 years! I made the argument that investing in an inflexible fixed asset that needed 30 years just to break even was ridiculous. In 30 years anything could happen. Hopefully, by that time we’ll be driving tiny computer-controlled (for safety) cars, and using cellphone apps to conveniently rideshare. Everyone would still have individualized movement and the existing infrastructure would accomodate them. Plus, no 30-year massive debt servicing.

    Unfortunately, the cars today are hardly different than the cars 30 years ago, so maybe I’m full of BS, but you can never tell the future by looking into the past.


  6. The problem I have with your vision, Martin, is that in order to achieve that, freedoms will be compromised.

    The basic internal combustion engine is pretty much the same as when first designed. Some modifications and different material are used to help lower emissions, but by and large most it ha come from external sources, computer actuated fuel injection being one of the most successful I feel.

    Still, it remains our most reliable and efficient means.

    If I’m still here in 30 years (I’d be 93), we’ll see just what advances have occurred. 😉


  7. Taking my “vision” to the maximum…

    America is in need of a new “Man on the moon before the end of the decade” glory goal for many reasons. (Inspiring young people to become engineers better shoot to the top of society’s agenda or we’re going to have problems soon.) I propose a passenger vehicle that can circumnavigate the nation’s borders via its own control using a renewable energy source.


  8. I completely agree that the younger generations need inspiring heroes to look up to and strive to be more like. Rappers and Hollyweird types don’t get it.

    So called “renewable” energy is proving to be anything but. It’s too costly, inefficient and unreliable. What the future holds remains to be seen.

    And, you cannot legislate stupid out of people with technology in cars.


  9. If it was easy it wouldn’t be a glorious goal.


  10. Martin, the private sector will perfect a true alternative energy source when one is actually needed. Several are already working on one for when the time comes that fossil fuels really are scarce.

    In the meantime, the fallacy of man made global warming, (or is it global cooling or just climate change today?) encouraging these expensive and unreliable alternate sources, without looking at the many negatives, only serve to further empower a government elite an ever so gradually strip us of our freedoms, all for the “better good of all,” remember.


  11. Fine, Lew, if you think the “glorious goal” should use gasoline, we’ll include that in the specs. Sheesh! Can’t a guy have a “glorious goal” anymore?!


  12. My “glorious goal” is retain freedom and liberty.

    You can have whatever you want, just so long as it does not remove or restrict others freedom and liberty for “the common good.”


  13. Dude, I can’t tell if you’re being serious or not?

    You know I’ll have a “freedom & liberty” discussion at the drop of a hat but let’s keep things in context. “Glorious Goals,” by definition, are to supply knowledge and excitment for everyone. They are definitely socialist. The “Human Genome Project” (a very worthy Glorious Goal) inspired and enriched many in the Private Sector, and benefited us all.


  14. Martin, I prefer those glorious goals to be borne by the private sector.

    Yes, some thing might have to be started by government, but my point is today, they are being used by government to further restrict us, very, very gradually.

    Look at how much you were able to do when you were younger and look at today at how many you cannot do.


  15. Lew, don’t let suspicion overwhelm good judgment – perhaps, “trust but verify.”


  16. “Anyone who trusts government is a complete idiot”.


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