Powering Inferno: Chevy Volt and GM Going Down in Flames-Literally
We have oft spoken of how ridiculous Government General Motors (GM) has continued to become since receiving $50 billion of our bailout money.
And of the Barack Obama Administration’s puffing up for political and campaign purposes GM’s alleged “recovery” from its bankruptcy.
(A bankruptcy, by the way, that could have just as easily transpired without our $50 billion. But I digress....)
It’s not really much of a recovery when one considers the fact that GM’s thus far $7.4 billion in 2011 profits is greatly fostered and augmented by the Obama Administration’s years-on-end GM federal tax exemption.
A Crony Socialist boon to the tune of as much as $45.4 billion.
(How’s that for federal deficit reduction? Is absolutely nothing at all GM's “fair share?”)
GM’s is an even less impressive “recovery” when we remember that We the People still own just over 500 million shares of GM stock. On which to break even we need to sell at $53 per - and it is currently trading at around $23.
Which sets up We the Taxpayers for a more than $15 billion loss.
Not quite the GM “success” President Obama is repeatedly touting on the Trail to 2012.
(For all your GM bailout stock news - and how we can actually be made whole - please visit our www.BailoutCost.com.)
GM stock is in fact trading at nearly $10 below its around $33 initial post-bankruptcy price.
A 30+% drop due largely, methinks, to GM’s glassy-eyed, fervent infatuation with utterly unproven, unproductive, unprofitable and unpopular green “energy” - and all of its attending absurdity.
There wasn’t in 2010 a company on Planet Earth (pardon me - Mother Gaia) that registered more green “energy” patents than GM. You know, of the Solyndra, Fisker, Beacon Power, (and on, and on, and on,...) born-to-be-bankrupt variety.
Then, there’s the Chevy Volt. The utterly unproven, unproductive, unprofitable and unpopular GM electric-hybrid vehicle.
Which costs GM $41,000 to make - and which GM sells for $41,000. (Comparable class and size gasoline-only cars sell for around half that amount.)
This sterling unprofitability comes...
...after billions of dollars of government loans and grants for the Volt’s development and production.
In short, the Volt appears to be exactly the kind of green-at-all-costs car that some opponents of the bailout feared the government might order G.M. to build.
Umm, yes. Opponents like us.
Start with the $50 billion bailout (without which none of this would have been necessary), add $240 million in Energy Department grants doled out to G.M. last summer, $150 million in federal money to the Volt’s Korean battery supplier, up to $1.5 billion in tax breaks for purchasers and other consumer incentives, and some significant portion of the $14 billion loan G.M. got in 2008 for “retooling” its plants, and you’ve got some idea of how much taxpayer cash is built into every Volt.
Explicably, the Volt isn’t selling. Less than 4,000 thus far in 2011 - putting it on pace for about 6,000 for the year.
Inexplicably, GM is in 2012 increasing production to 60,000 units.
GM was for a while explaining away these lackluster sales by claiming that the Volt was serving as a “catalyst.” Bringing people into the showroom - who then leave instead in a Chevy Cruze.
(Which doesn’t explain the ginormous Volt production increase, but I again digress....)
"The Volt is leading to a lot of Cruze sales," said Mark Reuss, GM's CEO for North America. Customers are coming in to see the Volt, but “not everyone can buy a Volt,” Reuss said. The Volt has a starting price that’s nearly two and half times greater than the Cruze’s price.
In that respect, you can think of the Volt as more of a marketing device for GM than a revenue generator.
We the People were unwillingly, unwittingly forced to fork over $50+ billion in bailout coin and assistance for a - GM marketing device?
The Volt isn’t the Future of Transportation - it’s the Geico Gecko?
Here’s a thought - hire an ad agency. It’s much cheaper.
The Volt is a “marketing device” - that a tippity-top GM executive admits is priced way too high to actually be sold with any frequency as, you know, a car.
"As we recover from this recession, the transition to clean energy has the potential to grow our economy and create millions of jobs - but only if we accelerate that transition. Only if we seize the moment."
- President Barack Obama
Moment exorbitantly seized, Mister President. Congratulations. How’s it working for you? For us?
And, as it turns out, the Volt wasn’t even serving as a “marketing device” after all.
General Motors will suspend production at its factory in Lordstown, Ohio that assembles Chevrolet Cruze for at least one week to avoid oversupply, as recovering Japanese inventories and slow fall sales have lessened demand for the car.
So it wasn’t the Volt so much as the Japan tsunami that was contributing to those Cruze sales. It helps when the competition is under water - literally.
Oh, and another thing - it appears Volts may be bursting into flames.
Specifically the plug-in charger for the Volt’s battery. There were in April two Volt charcoal briquets. GM said it wasn't responsible. And Volt proponents argued that we should wait to hear from experts before jumping to conclusions.
Ok - a third Volt just recently immolated. During the requested expert testing - while it was stored in a garage at a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) testing center.
And a fourth Volt just went up in flames in the garage of a Mooresville, North Carolina home. Which led the local power company to issue a warning:
Duke Energy officials want anyone who has a charging station to stop using it until they know the devices are safe.
Again, we don’t yet know for sure that the Volt charging stations are to blame. It may (also) be the batteries.
As GM themselves inadvertently indicated.
General Motors believes the (NHTSA) fire occurred because NHTSA did not drain the energy from the Volt’s battery following the (test) crash, which is a safety step the automaker recommends, GM spokesman Rob Peterson said.
So emergency personnel, arriving upon the scene of accidents involving a Volt, must add to their list of responsibilities - draining the stupid electric car batteries?
The fire’s cause – the battery puncture -- led to questions about whether other automakers require batteries to be discharged of their energy following major crashes, the NHTSA official said. In addition, regulators are exploring protocols for who would do that – firefighters who respond first, for instance – and how quickly should they do it.
So said crisis workforce may have to prioritize draining Volt batteries above other things - like saving victims’ lives.
Emergency personnel may have to save drivers and passengers from their car batteries - before they save them from their injuries.
If they are able to do so before the batteries burst into flames.
In North Carolina...
...even the possibility of a fire hazard from the chargers for electric cars is getting attention. Sources told Eyewitness News car maker General Motors, Seimen, which makes the charger, as well as the installer, Duke Energy, and the U.S. Department of Transportation have all been talking to investigators.
I for one would like to have these investigations bereft of Government Motors (and Government) involvement. Else it looks very much like the fox investigating the fire hen house.
These Powering Infernos must of course be properly placed in the broader context of the 2012 election.
Duke CEO Jim Rogers has been outspoken in his desire to see more electric cars and charging stations in the city for next year’s Democratic National Convention.
Take the Heat for Obama and his Democrats in 2012.