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  • Blake Noble
    Blake Noble

    Amidst Falling Sales, Republicans Turn Chevrolet Volt Into Political Scapegoat

    G.Noble

    Editor/Reporter

    CheersandGears.com

    March 10, 2012

    Life hasn’t exactly been easy for the Chevrolet Volt. Although it was just recently named 2012 European Car of the Year in Opel Ampera guise, GM announced previous to the awarding they were suspending production for little over a month because of slow sales and dealers rejecting further allotments. On top of that, the Volt has had some image issues stemming from the NHTSA’s disclosure late last year about how an example they t-boned caught fire some three weeks after it was tested in May 2011.

    It’s only insult to injury then Republican politicians have turned to bashing the Volt in debates and interviews, associating the car with radical left-wing environmentalism and government bailout money. Republican Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich decided to fault the Chevy plug-in hybrid for lack of space for a gun rack of all things (the Volt can indeed accommodate one, if you were curious), and frontrunner Mitt Romney said it was “an idea whose time has not come.” Perhaps the worst bit of uninformed criticism came from conservative group American Tradition Partnership Inc. who said the Volt was an “exploding Obamamobile.”

    GM CEO Dan Akerson testifying before Congress about the Volt in January said, “Although we loaded the Volt with state-of-the-art safety features, we did not engineer the Volt to be a political punching bag. And that, sadly, is what the Volt has become.” How right you are — or were — Dan.

    Mr. Akerson also went onto say that he thinks Volt sales have been pinched because of the political trash talk. Challengers to the Obama administration, on the other hand, see it as an effective way of resonating with their voters. Art Spinella, an analyst who studies new car buyers as president of CNW Marketing Research, noted Republicans buy Chevys, especially the Silverado pickup, in greater numbers than Democrats do. And while Chevy buyers tend to identify as Republican, less than 14 percent of Volt owners lean to the political right.

    While it’s difficult to tell how much of an effect the political hate speech has had on Volt sales, Akerson isn’t alone in believing sales could be much better without the GOP bashing it. Volt sales totaled up to 7,671 cars last year, falling short of GM’s target of 10,000 cars by a little over 2,000. In the first two months of 2012 GM only sold about 1,600 Volts, and that sales track is falling way short of Akerson’s year-end goal of 45,000. Art Spinella says part of that huge divide is due to attacks on the campaign trail.

    Buyers who identify as conservative “will not buy a car that has anything at all that they perceive being associated with the administration,” Spinella said.

    Akerson isn’t the only non-political figure out there who’s upset that the Volt has founded itself stranded in political crossfire, either. Everyone’s favorite auto-exec and registered Republican who helped to develop the Volt, former GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz, is outraged as well.

    “I don’t mind criticizing Obama, I don’t mind criticizing the Democrats, and, you know me, I think global warming is huge hoax perpetrated by the global political left,” Lutz said. “But when it comes to telling outright lies to advance your political purposes and damage an American company that is greatly on its way back, hurt employment in Hamtramck, Michigan, I just think it’s totally outrageous.”

    Source: Bloomberg

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    Politics aside, the Volt is not succeeding on the market as a product. It is not succeeding even with $7,500 in purchase subsidies. The way I see it, there shouldn't even be 1 cent of subsidy for Hybrids or Electric cars. They should either be viable products on their own merits or we should wait for the time when the market decide that they are -- whether that is 10 years or 100 years.

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    Actually, no, we don't "subsidize" gasoline, we just don't tax gasoline like the Europeans do to create an artificially high price for whatever politcal, environmental or revenue agenda they have. There is no direct subsidy on the sale or purchase of Gasoline, Diesel or Kerosene fuel, period.

    What is frequently termed "oil subsidies" are not really subsidies at all. They can be broken down to 4 categories...

    (1) Tax Deductions for domestic production. These basically matches the typical tax breaks that countries which export oil to the USA offer or partly compensate for the regulatory costs of US manufacturing. All businesses get these. They are there mainly to keep production domestic -- otherwise it will be cheaper to drill and refine elsewhere. If we eliminate it for oil companies we'll be singling out the oil ndustry as the ONLY industry which does not receive these tax breaks.

    (2) Capital Equipment depreciation allowance. Companies write down the depreciation of equipment. All companies get it, not just oil companies. An airline for instance gets to depreciate their jets and oil companies an oil rig.

    (3) Foreign Tax Credits. Companies get tax credits for taxes they pay overseas against taxes they have to pay domestically. Again, all companies, and in fact individuals, get this. If as part of your job, you do work in Europe and are taxed in Europe under their tax laws, you get to take all of those taxes paid as a deduction against your income when filing your US tax returns because they are no longer your income!

    (4) Non-tangible Drill Cost write down. This is the ONLY area where the oil industry gets different treatment compared to other industries. And, the only difference is that they get to take it all in the first year and not over multiple years. The magnitude of the deduction is not different from that we extend to other businesses on intangible write downs.

    The most important thing that one needs to know is that the total amount of tax breaks given to the oil industry is a mere $4 billion. Quite insignificant given the $625 billion US oil consumption and amounts to less than 1% of the price at the pump or 4 cents of the $4 you may pay for one gallon. More importantly, of this 4 billion, only $0.8 billion is given in a manner not also extended to all other US manufacturers and industries as legitimate tax deductions.

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    Want to fix Volt sales-it's pretty simple-make them cheaper.

    This has NOTHING to do with Politics, because we can rip on toyotas all day long, but at the end of the day they do what it takes to make the sales.

    Match the Pi-then we can talk...

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    and weren't SUV's and big trucks the "political punching bags" of a few years ago? or how about C4C...? if you don't want them to be "punching bags".....build toyota's. :P

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    Specificaly, I would not buy a Volt despite the tax incentives (dollars out of the taxpayer pocket) because it is overpriced, ugly, and it has a cheap/wierd interior.

    General Motors also sends too many of its jobs overseas directly or indirectly especially considering the taxpayer bailout. All its vehicles should be 90- 100% made in the USA, and not 10% owned by Prince All Weed.

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    Welcome to the boards, Mr. Green. We're glad to have you on board.

    General Motors also sends too many of its jobs overseas directly or indirectly especially considering the taxpayer bailout. All its vehicles should be 90- 100% made in the USA, and not 10% owned by Prince All Weed.

    You're going to have to back yourself up on this one.

    1.) New GM (GM post-bankruptcy) has been very good about keeping jobs here in the U.S. For example, the Chevrolet Sonic, which replaced the old Korean-made Aveo, is built in Michigan. In fact, the Sonic is the only subcompact car that's produced Domestically — the North American Ford Fiesta is built in Mexico I believe, the Toyota Yaris is made in Japan, and the Nissan Versa is also built in Mexico. It's a big deal, too, because American automakers have never managed to turn a profit on a domestically-built car of the Sonic's size class, hence why most of them were produced overseas.

    2.) All vehicles sold everywhere have a certain percentage of foreign parts content. It doesn't matter if you buy a brand-new Chevy, brand-new Ford, or a brand-new Nissan. Welcome to the warm, fuzzy reality of Globalization where almost nothing is 100 percent home grown anymore.

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    Welcome to the end of the USA as you know it, and so on for your kids and grandkids. Demand from our companies made in USA parts.

    Next you will be surrendering to Islam, cause they're getting their way in Euroope. Stand for something, not globalization.

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    Michael Green, you complained about the Volt's cost, then complained about the amount of domestic content/assembly of GM cars. There's no quick or easy way to have 90-100% US content in GM cars and keep costs at a reasonable level. You can't just have your cake, eat it too, and dictate the ingredients without some kind of sacrifice. I too would like to see an increase in domestic content, but there is a limit to what's reasonable without tradeoff.

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    As a follow up to my last post, the Domestic/Foriegn parts content of the Sonic is 47 percent, with the major source of foriegn parts coming from Korea which I think was about 12 to 17 percent.

    I was going to snap a photo of the window sticker, but my phone decided to take a nap, so my apologies on that.

    Also worth noting is that I didn't notice the production date of that particular car. If it was produced at the start of the Sonic's production run late last year, then the Domestic parts content is sure to increase as the year goes on.

    I suspect this 'Michael Green' is a just a troll...only has 3 posts.

    It's hard to assume that.

    Edited by black-knight
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    Welcome to the end of the USA as you know it, and so on for your kids and grandkids. Demand from our companies made in USA parts.

    Next you will be surrendering to Islam, cause they're getting their way in Euroope. Stand for something, not globalization.

    Good...you tell that to Wall Street...let me know how that goes....

    Oh, and to bring you up to date, some companies are bringing back parts/production to the US.

    Helps to do your homework first....

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    The republicans did not make this political.

    Obama made GM political when he demanded his administration dictate how GM is run. For example, who the CEO should be.

    Some of us are worried about not only how the Government is throwing money all over the place, but also by how often said money lands in the hands of solid DNC voters and fundraisers.

    The problem is the kind of person who would by a hybrid or electric car, probably thinks American cars are inferior, and with batteries catching fire (I can say this as a Fiero owner) it only reinforces that thinking.

    Akerson says he coulda sold more Volts if not for the Republicans bashing it? Who's playing scapegoat now?

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    kills me how greenies cried and screamed when GM got rid of the EV. Now GM again builds the most advanced alternate propulsion electric, and now people are still complaining. In adjusted dollars, the Volt is probably cheaper than the EV. Where are the libbers and greenies stepping up to the plate to save the earth?

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    This is the time to tell everyone and the politicians regardless of party to SHUT THE F*@K UP!

    How do you do this?

    Lower prices on the auto to start, marketing commercials that talk about the quality, the American jobs it created and have current owners interviewed talking about it.

    Then throw the hammer down by challanging America!

    They could even use the Death of the EV to call out these very same people.

    " You said we killed the EV for no good reason yet the market was not willing to support it! The market has asked for now and we have delivered to you the VOLT! American Engineered, American parts supplied, American MADE!!! Check it out at your local Chevy dealer now and when you see one on the road, thank them for supporting Jobs in America!"

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    What on earth does globalization have anything to do with religion.

    because... if nationalism in the "american made" nature isn't religion...obviously the opposite is! /sarcasm.

    if it's a better product, no matter where it's made, if it can compete, should stand by itself in the market place...untill something better comes along. look at the early history of the mustang for an example of this.

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    I'm a bit baffled by the headline. Sales are falling? All auto manufacturers reports sales based on current month/year compared to current month/previous year, for example FEB 2012 compared to FEB 2011. Using that method, Volt sales have increased DEC, JAN, FEB. To my knowledge no manufacturer compares consecutive months in the current year. Just sayin' . . .

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