Vroom, Vroom, Clunk! It Seems Government Motors’ Volt Is A Fraud

Even if the pitch Government Motors had been making were true, the Volt was not a terribly appealing car. Here was my summary of the Volt from a post back in July:

Replacing a gas powered car with the best electric cars on the market, the Chevy Volt and the Nissan Leaf, would be like replacing your MP3 player with an 8-track tape player.

…So, let’s see: these cars are EXTREMELY expensive, can take hours to recharge, and won’t work for long trips. In other words, you can go buy a $2,000 clunker on Craigslist tomorrow that will probably give you better performance than either the Volt or the Leaf.

Well, guess what, folks? Apparently those remarks were far too kind. Now that the Volt is actually being tested, it’s looking like it’s going to be the New Coke of automobiles:

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Green Technology: Government Motors’ all-electric car isn’t all-electric and doesn’t get near the touted hundreds of miles per gallon. Like “shovel-ready” jobs, maybe there’s no such thing as “plug-ready” cars either.

…Advertised as an all-electric car that could drive 50 miles on its lithium battery, GM addressed concerns about where you plug the thing in en route to grandma’s house by adding a small gasoline engine to help maintain the charge on the battery as it starts to run down. It was still an electric car, we were told, and not a hybrid on steroids.

That’s not quite true. The gasoline engine has been found to be more than a range-extender for the battery. Volt engineers are now admitting that when the vehicle’s lithium-ion battery pack runs down and at speeds near or above 70 mph, the Volt’s gasoline engine will directly drive the front wheels along with the electric motors. That’s not charging the battery – that’s driving the car.

So it’s not an all-electric car, but rather a pricey $41,000 hybrid that requires a taxpayer-funded $7,500 subsidy to get car shoppers to look at it. But gee, even despite the false advertising about the powertrain, isn’t a car that gets 230 miles per gallon of gas worth it?

We heard GM’s then-CEO Fritz Henderson claim the Volt would get 230 miles per gallon in city conditions. Popular Mechanics found the Volt to get about 37.5 mpg in city driving, and Motor Trend reports: “Without any plugging in, (a weeklong trip to Grandma’s house) should return fuel economy in the high 30s to low 40s.”

Car and Driver reported that “getting on the nearest highway and commuting with the 80-mph flow of traffic – basically the worst-case scenario – yielded 26 miles; a fairly spirited backroad loop netted 31; and a carefully modulated cruise below 60 mph pushed the figure into the upper 30s.”

Electric car, hybrid, 230 miles per gallon, 37.5 miles per gallon — whatever, right? The important thing is that American tax dollars will be spent to give you a huge $7,500 subsidy…that will get the price down to just $33,500 for a car that gives you less bang for your buck than every single gas powered car on the market.

What do those people who claim it’s a bad idea for the government to pick winners and losers in the marketplace have to say now? Probably something like, “Yep, we were right again.”

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