Planet Gore

The Volt economy

Detroit — With sales nowhere near the predicted 45,000-per-year, General Motors halted production of “Obamacar” — the Chevy Volt — here for the second time this year as its inventory levels lag the industry average.

If that sounds like the general economic fits and starts of the last three years under Obamanomics, it’s no accident. Welcome to the Volt economy.

Chevy’s Detroit-Hamtramck plant will suspend production from Sept. 17 until Oct. 15, idling 1,500 workers. As with its White House financiers, GM was quick with the excuses. “We are not idling the plant due to poor Volt sales. We’re gearing up for production of the new Impala,” a Chevy spokesman told the Automotive News.

But the Volt’s 84-day inventory — above the industry average of 51 days (and far from the 10-day inventory of more popular luxury models in its price segment like the BMW X3) — helps to explain the production halt. Indeed, a spokesman for a Chevy dealer told Detroit’s Frank Beckmann Radio Show this morning that Volt sales were disappointing. “We always knew it would be a niche vehicle,” he said.

We did? Actually, Volt sales should be booming according to its greatest champion, Barack Obama.

Just as Obama wrongly predicted the 2010 Summer of Recovery, 5.6 percent unemployment, and an economic resurgence powered by his green investments, the Automaker-in-Chief also predicted the Volt would lead an electric vehicle revolution that would put a million electric vehicles on American roads by 2015.

We’re not even close. “To get to one million, the White House pinned its hopes on 11 models of electric vehicles. . . . (But) six of the 11 – Ford Focus, Ford Transit Connect, Fisker Nina/Atlantic, Tesla Model S, Tesla Roadster and Think City – either haven’t made their first delivery, stopped production, or are already out of business,” reports CBS News.

As for the flagship, Volt sales did rise to 10,666 sales through July – triple the disappointing 2,870 sold in 2011. Still, that’s well off the pace of the 45,000 annual sales figure that GM CEO Dan Ackerson giddily projected for 2012.

And as with other markets that Obama has ordained (think wind, solar), the Volt’s weak sales are only possible with extraordinary government intervention. The $40-grand Chevy — a price point that puts it up against the world’s best luxury cars — is subsidized by $7500 sales subsidies, home charger subsidies, and state subsidies like a $1500 California rebate. GM executives also attribute this year’s sales increase to another California perk — as of 2012, the Volt qualifies for California’s coveted carpool lanes.

If that’s not enough, Obama’s 54.5 mpg-by-2025 standard is meant to reduce the Volt’s internal combustion-powered competition, further narrowing the market of affordable vehicles, and further depressing car sales. The Volt economy means a more exclusive class of new car buyer who gets subsidies to ride in his own elite, electric car pool lanes. Ah, progressivism.