NEWS BLOG (WSAU) This is the car that was going to save General Motors?
The automotive category is one the biggest advertising groups for radio and television stations. During the economic downturn that led to GM being bailed out and Chrysler going bankrupt, both companies eliminated almost all of their commercials. The only model-specific advertising GM did for several months was for the Chevy Volt. Maybe you remember the commercials with the line “those guys who got A’s in physics class are working on the batteries right now.”
The Volt – which only has a range of 40-miles per electric charge – is not ready for prime time.
Granted, many electric cars are not intended to be a family’s primary vehicle. Obviously if you commute any great distance, your Volt will be running in “gas” mode. (It has a range of about 300-miles per tank when it’s running on gasoline.) These cars are being pitched as a good second vehicle for running errands around town.
Consider a typical day of summer vacation for the Conley family. The Conley twins attend vacation bible school about a mile from our home. My son is at soccer camp, and his team has games in the late afternoon in Weston twice a week. My daughter is in the college-for-kids program at UW-Marathon County. Just running those pick-up and drop-offs, we cover 35 miles a day. If we bought a Volt, which my family of six wouldn’t fit in anyway, we would drain the battery daily. We'd also be running up a huge electric bill recharging it each night.
And if you compare the very high cost of the Volt with the cost of gas, the car doesn’t make sense. One blogger says you’d have to drive the Volt for 20-years before to make up the difference in sticker price compared to a comparable traditional car. Read it here: http://tinyurl.com/2g3tuhh Even with a generous tax credit, you’d be left with a more expensive car that doesn’t go as far as you need it to that your family doesn’t fit into. The only people who will buy this car are hyper-environmentalists who are opposed to the internal-combustion engine. And they will pay a very high cost for their convictions.
And I’m not opposed to alternative-powered cars. I like the idea of driving a car that’s powered by the sun, or natural gas, or electricity, or anything that makes us less dependant on Middle Eastern oil sheiks. But it has to be a real car, not a play-thing that doesn’t meet my transportation needs.
Here’s something you may have forgotten. General Motors had to submit a reorganization plan to the federal government before getting its bail out cash. GM’s first plan was rejected. The Feds said it relied too much on GM selling light trucks and SUVs, the vehicles with the highest profit margins and the greatest market demand. The re-written plan de-emphasized those vehicles and put more focus on the Volt. This is a car that would only exist with government subsidies. This is a car that would only be built by a company that's under close government scrutiny for its very survival. If this is the future of General Motors, our largest auto manufacturer will be a ward of the State for a long time.
Operations Manager, Midwest Communications-Wausau