The most expensively subsidized product of Barack Obama’s greatest “success” is going on ice for another month. Anonymous sources tell Automotive News that “General Motors plans to idle the plant where it assembles the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid for four weeks starting next month.” According to these sources, union employees and suppliers have already been notified about the shutdown. This would be the second Volt production shutdown this year – another was implemented between March and April.
A GM spokesman would neither confirm nor deny the Automotive News report, which is basically the worst way to handle a development like this. If it’s not true, a simple denial is all that would be necessary to quell rumors in the automotive and business media. If it is true, there’s no way to keep it under wraps for long – too many people have already been put on notice. GM looks furtive and embarrassed by concealing important production news from the public – which, after all, owns a huge pile of their distressingly under-performing stock.
USA Today picked up on the story, and managed to wheedle a statement from a GM spokesman, who confirmed the suspension is happening, but claimed “we are not idling the plant due to poor Volt sales. We’re gearing up for the production of the new Impala.” Furthermore, the spokesman said GM was “comfortable with our current inventory levels of these products, which allows us to take time for launch readiness of the Impala.”
Volt sales are up this year… to a piddling 10,666 units, which is less than 25 percent of GM’s wildly optimistic predictions at the beginning of the year. It’s an even smaller percentage of the sales that would be necessary to begin recovering the $400 million in direct government subsidies required to produce the unpopular electric car, to say nothing of the $1.5 billion in tax breaks and incentives poured into purchase and production, or the $50 billion bailout that kept GM alive long enough to put a few Volts on the street. It’s difficult to calculate how many Volts GM must sell to recover those expenses, because the company has stated it’s essentially selling the cars at cost right now – and that’s with a $7500 taxpayer-funded credit from Uncle Sam for every purchase, which Barack Obama wants to increase to $10,000.
Much of the Volt’s current sales “bump” is due to extra incentives from California’s beyond-bankrupt government, which tosses in another $1500 rebate for every vehicle sold, thanks to extra emissions-control equipment added especially to California Volts at additional cost to Government Motors. Furthermore, California nonsensically allows Volts, and other “zero-emission” cars, to use its highly desirable carpooling lanes, even when only one person occupies the vehicle. Several other states, including New York, Georgia, and Florida, are likewise abusing their carpool lines to prod reluctant drivers into electric cars.
The Volt is like a rolling lesson in the utter folly of command economics. Government, at both state and federal levels, is flagrantly abusing its power to incentivize purchases, in a manner that would have anti-business liberals howling at the Moon if it were employed to push a product that doesn’t meet their ideological approval. And it’s still not enough – GM can’t sell enough Volts to keep the factory running year-round. What’s left? Well, how about a nice “tax penalty” for everyone who refuses to buy a Volt? Thanks to the John Roberts ObamaCare decision, the government can do that. Considering the amount of money plowed into the Volt thus far, it won’t be hard for them to convince Roberts that they have a compelling interest to protect. Think of all the jobs that will be lost if Volt production shuts down forever!