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Revolt of the Drivers

Oct 22, 2012, Vol. 18, No. 06 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
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Yes, we’ve chronicled the saga of the Chevy Volt before, but The Scrapbook is nothing if not tenacious when it comes to documenting public-private partnerships in stupidity. The latest word on the Volt is that it has suffered a crushing PR blow. Lyle Dennis is the founder of HybridCars.com, GM-Volt.com, and a member of General Motors’ consumer advisory board for the Volt. (Given the car’s dismal sales, we don’t anticipate that last gig is too time-consuming.) Last week, he shocked the electric vehicle community, such that it is, by announcing he was getting rid of his Chevy Volt to purchase a new electric vehicle from Ford. 

Chevy Volt

“I take pride in the role I played encouraging GM to produce the car and in helping to build public support. .  .  . I always imagined I would own the car for 20 or 30 years,” wrote an anguished Dennis in a blog post at InsideEVs.com. Dennis, however, has a wife and three kids and can no longer cope with one of the Volt’s shortcomings. “The problem is, as great as the Volt is, it only has four seats.” Who would have thought that having a massive battery in the middle of the car would make families reticent to own one? Someone should alert GM’s consumer advisory board about this problem. 

At first, Dennis thought that he could cope with the car’s lack of seats. “Since we only occasionally take long family drives, we figured we would rent a car for those trips.” Again, can you imagine telling families looking to spend $40,000 on a car that if they don’t want to leave one of their kids at home, they should just rent a car? (In fairness, the Volt’s price tag is only $32,500 after the rest of us subsidize the purchase with tax credits.)

Dennis, as it happens, wanted to take his family to the beach this summer and disaster struck. “We reserved a rental car and when we went to pick it up the day of our trip, there was an error and no cars were available,” he reports. “We had no choice but to pack five of us into the Volt, and my wife and I took turns sitting with our daughter on our lap in one of the back seats. It was awfully uncomfortable and technically dangerous.” 

As a result, Dennis has just purchased Ford’s new electric vehicle, the C-MAX Energi. The Energi has a fifth seat. It also has a starting price of $33,745, before a more modest $3,750 tax rebate. And did we mention that Ford wasn’t bailed out by taxpayers? 

If even the most loyal consumers are rebelling against the Volt, the Obama administration’s ongoing obsession with Chevy Volts looks even more appalling. Speaking of which, last week, Rep. Mike Kelly noted that on May 7, the State Department approved $108,000 for a new electric car charging station to service Chevy Volts in the motor pool at the Vienna embassy. Kelly also revealed that on May 3, the State Department denied a request for use of a DC-3 airplane to a Special Forces group doing embassy security in Libya. Ambassador Chris Stevens, slain in a terrorist attack in Benghazi on September 11, was copied on the email from the State Department.

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