Planet Gore

The Volt’s Reason to Be

Critics of the Chevy Volt rightfully point out that GM’s new plug-in hybrid is an overpriced Chevy Cruze, that it is not a revolution-in-the-making but a niche vehicle, and that it should stand on its merits without expensive taxpayer subsidies. But those critics also assume a rational world.

The world American automakers live in today, though, is highly irrational — governed by irrational Washington agencies that have bipartisan political support to draft irrational mpg mandates that force carmakers to irrationally build cars consumers don’t want to buy.

The Chevy Volt is GM’s rational answer to irrationality.

This week, the EPA announced that the Volt will get an EPA MPG rating of 60 mpg, which will go a long way towards helping the company meet the government’s absurd 35 mpg average for all the vehicles the company makes. That is, since consumers prefer cars that get 21 mpg on average (53 percent of vehicles bought today are SUVs, after all), GM can throw in the Volt’s 60 mpg to goose up its fleet average and avoid millions in federal fines and public execution by the national media.

The EPA arrives at its 60 mpg figure with a suitably obtuse averaging of the Volt’s 93 mpg on battery power alone (which it can manage for up to 35 miles)  and the 37 mpg it will get on the car’s tiny 1.4-liter gas engine once the battery runs out of juice. All of these ratings will appear on the $41,000 window sticker of the Volt in a blizzard of mumbo-jumbo that will make its rich green buyers feel good about saving the planet.

It will also make GM feel good about meeting the fed’s ridiculous rules.

And it will make everyone else feel $7,500 lighter in the wallet from the subsidy of each Volt sold.

Henry Payne — Henry Payne is the auto critic for the Detroit News.

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