After driving GM’s new, plug-in electric Chevy Volt, Late Night funnyman Jay Leno quipped that “if you didn’t know, you might think it’s a Cobalt” — a reference to GM’s pedestrian, $15-grand, entry-level small car.
Ouch. Who would buy a $41,000 Cobalt? Or even a $33,500 Cobalt (federal tax credit included).
Obama Motors new pride and joy is an overpriced gizmo manufactured for Barack Obama’s liberal Hyde Park friends. GM will roll it out in select markets – that is, urban markets where upscale Democrats will covet the Volt as their green status car. Call it the Chevy Chase.
Congressmen will get to buy it in Washington, DC as will Obama’s Hollywood pals on the Left Coast and supporters in New York City and even trendy Austin, Texas. Such folks like to say that the Volt is the “car of the future” and that is why taxpayers must subsidize these well-heeled buyers to the tune of $7,500 per purchase — to get the cars produced in the volumes needed to bring prices down.
Sure the Volt is a wondrous piece of technology using state-of-the-art lithium-ion batteries that will propel it 40 miles without a sip of gasoline. But auto-company back lots are packed with cool concept cars that never made it because they didn’t make sense for a mass market.
A $41,000 Cobalt — or a $33,500 Cobalt — will always be a niche vehicle for limousine libs looking for a second car. For the great unwashed masses, however, rival gasoline-powered compact sedans priced under $20,000 — say a Honda Civic or Ford Focus — make a lot more economic sense. Rushed soccer moms won’t have the luxury of adapting their lives to the Volt’s demanding recharging schedule (it takes hours to recharge the Volt at home). But that’s something Obama pal Leo DiCaprio can delegate to an assistant.
DiCaprio’s present green ride, the hybrid Toyota Prius, is the first green status car. But the rest of the hybrid industry has not caught fire along with it. The Prius makes up a full 50 percent of hybrid sales — ten years after it and dozens of other hybrids came on the market. Today, only 1.9 percent of all cars sold are hybrids. There are only so many people willing to buy a car because it is “green.” Most folks want a car for convenience.
GM knows this, which is why it is only initially producing 10,000 Volts. And most will be leased at a money-losing $350 a month — a signal GM sees the Volt as a halo car, not a meal ticket. “I’m not sure the Volt is going to be a volume vehicle,” auto analyst George Magliano of IHS Global Insight told the Washington Post. “The technology still isn’t there to make them cheap. At the end of the day, the consumer pays a hefty premium to make a statement.”
But President Obama bought the company last year and the Chevy Volt is what he thinks America should drive. The Volt is “the beginning of a revolution,” says academic Dan Sperling from the University of California, located in one of Obama Motors’ target markets.
But revolutions can’t be sustained by liberal elites. Ultimately, they need the masses.