My wife and I are seriously considering selling our Nissan Leaf and getting a Chevy Volt. We've got good reasons for doing so, but that's the subject of another post.
What I want to talk about now is the trashing of the Volt by conservatives such as Rich Lowry, who wrote an absurd column, "The Sad Plight of Obama's Edsel," that ran in the Portland Oregonian yesterday.
There's so much wrong with Lowry's piece, it's tough to know where to start with truth-telling. I guess the title is a good place. The Volt isn't Obama's car. General Motors revealed the concept car version in January 2007, and unveiled the production model in September 2008.
President Obama took office in January 2009. So Lowry is way off-base when he calls it "Obama's Edsel." It isn't Obama's car. And it is nothing like the ill-fated Edsel.
Lowry says the Volt is "government approved." Well, no more so than any other car. There are safety and other standards for cars. That must be what Lowry is talking about in his snarky attempt to disparage a car that has won both the North American and European Car of the Year awards.
He misleadingly says that the Volt gets 35 mpg on gas (a generator kicks in to run the electric motors after the Volt's battery is depleted, which is good for about 40 miles). Lowry ignores the "infinite" mpg mileage on battery power.
I've read lots of reports from happy Volt owners on various forums. Frequently they go months without buying gasoline, because their daily drive is less than 40 miles. Even with occasional use of the gas generator, it's possible to enjoy hundreds of miles per gallon with the Volt.
The official EPA figure is 93 MPG Equivalent using the battery only (cost of electricity is equated to cost of gasoline; here in the northwest, electricity costs less than average, so the MPG Equivalent is higher). Consumer Reports (April 2012 auto issue) shows the Volt as getting the best overall fuel economy, 61 mpg, of any car -- except the all-electric Nissan Leaf, which gets 106 mpg.
So Lowry is wrong when he says the Volt's mileage is "comparable to the Cruze." Consumer Reports says the Chevy Cruze gets 26 mpg, less than half of the Volt's mileage.
Lowry disparages the cost of the Volt, about $40,000. Even though he and his fellow Republicans endorse subsidies for oil companies and other fossil fuel enterprises, offering tax credits for purchase of an electric car bothers him.
Here in Oregon, a Volt buyer can qualify for a $7,500 federal and $1,500 state tax credit. That brings the price down to about $31,000. While browsing a Volt forum I came across a "Volt Cost Comparison with Average US Car Ownership" spreadsheet.
Pretty interesting. Shows that the Volt is cheaper than the average car over a six-year ownership period, even without the federal tax credit.
Like I said before, Fox News and other right-wingers have been lying about the Volt. Now Rich Lowry has joined the Untruth Squad. I enjoyed this letter to the editor in the Oregonian, written in response to Lowry's column.
Thank you for publishing Rich Lowry's hilarious anti-American car infomercial ("Obama's Edsel: Electric car has a grim future if it's the Chevy Volt," March 21). His portrayal of Americans as feeble oafs unable to plug in their cars cracked me up.
Imagine a hand-wringing actor: "How does this crazy electricity work?! Too complicated, I give up. I need the convenience of waiting in line to pump an expensive, highly flammable liquid carcinogen that we fight wars to get! Boy, oil companies need even more subsidies!"
Lowry has gotten the conservative memo to attack American innovation and the successful (bipartisan) rescue of the auto industry since 2008. Heaven forbid we think that keeping nearly a million Americans in good jobs creating award-winning vehicles is a good thing.
My father-in-law's Volt is getting over 199 mpg; he tops off at home.
Right on, Peter. Nice letter.