It has long been apparent that the more successful a talk radio host is, the less relevant the facts become. Case in point is this week's apparent tirade by Rush Limbaugh against the 2011 Chevrolet Volt. No doubt the Volt's sticker price came in higher than most of us had hoped at $41,000, and Limbaugh may have had a slight point there. However, suggesting that the federal $7,500 tax credit for plug-in vehicles like the Volt and the Nissan Leaf was there as an admission that no one wants these vehicles strikes us as disingenuous at best, especially when you recall the tax write-offs that were available to people buying Hummers and other large SUVs just a few years ago. As far as we know, Limbaugh also made no mention of the more palatable $350-per-month lease deal available for the Volt.

The Detroit Free Press reported that Limbaugh also ripped into the Volt's 40 mile range, implying that the 40 miles of range from the battery is all that is available. He was either unaware of or chose to ignore the fact that in charge-sustaining mode, the car's onboard engine-generator can keep the battery going for another 300 miles on a tank of gas. If you don't have time to sit around while the battery charges, you can just take a couple of minutes to fill the tank and be on your way again, just as you would in a normal car.

Perhaps we should just give Limbaugh the benefit of the doubt and assume his cochlear implant was on the fritz.

*Update: When this story was originally posted, we were unable to find a transcript online. After reviewing the transcript post-publication, it's clear that the Detroit Free Press took Limbaugh's comments out of context just as much of the media did last week in the case of Shirley Sharrod. Limbaugh is clearly aware of the range-extending capabilities of the Volt powertrain, although he didn't make any mention of the lease deal.

Until a caller informed Limbaugh of the Department of Energy-funded Charge Point America program, he was apparently unaware that over 4,000 free home 240-volt chargers would be available. However, the reality is that the Volt can be charged from a standard 110 volt outlet in 8-10 hours because of its smaller capacity batteries. Speaking of its range, the continual harping on the 40 mile range neglects the fact that for the vast majority of trips that will be perfectly adequate and the car can continue on after that on gasoline essentially without driver input.

From where we sit, comparisons of the Volt (and other EVs) to the Apple iPhone are also flawed. At launch, the iPhone did not have a carrier subsidy from AT&T and while it did well, sales didn't really take off until a few months later when the service provider cut the cost. Those subsidies have been more than recovered by AT&T (and other cellular companies) through very expensive smartphone service plans. The groundbreaking aspect of the iPhone was its software, not its hardware which was not significantly more expensive than other phones. While it remains to be seen if battery-powered vehicles can change the game, there is no argument that they are currently substantially more expensive to manufacture. As long as the United States has significantly lower gasoline prices than other countries, EVs are unlikely to thrive at their true cost.


  • Bob Lutz, Vice Chairman
  • Bob Lutz, Vice Chairman
  • The Chevrolet Volt "Freedom Drive" across the country concludes at Pier 92 during the annual Macy's Independence Day fireworks display over the Hudson River in New York, Sunday, July 4, 2010. The "Freedom Drive" began four days and 1.776 miles ago in Austin, Texas where Chevrolet announced New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Texas would join Michigan, California and Washington, D.C. as launch sites for the Volt later this year. (Photo by Emile Wamsteker for Chevrolet)
  • The Chevrolet Volt "Freedom Drive" across the country concludes at Pier 92 during the annual Macy's Independence Day fireworks display over the Hudson River in New York, Sunday, July 4, 2010. The "Freedom Drive" began four days and 1.776 miles ago in Austin, Texas where Chevrolet announced New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Texas would join Michigan, California and Washington, D.C. as launch sites for the Volt later this year. (Photo by Emile Wamsteker for Chevrolet)
  • Chevrolet announces Thursday, July 1, 2010 it is adding Texas, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut to the launch markets for the Volt electric vehicle. The retail launch in Texas and New York will begin with Austin and New York City in late 2010. The balance of Texas and New York, as well as New Jersey and Connecticut, are scheduled to begin receiving Volts in early 2011. The Chevrolet Volt (pictured here) in front of the Texas State Capital in Austiin, Texas Wednesday, June 30, 2010. (Photo by Steven Noreyko for Chevrolet)
  • Chevrolet announces Thursday, July 1, 2010 it is adding Texas, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut to the launch markets for the Volt electric vehicle. The retail launch in Texas and New York will begin with Austin and New York City in late 2010. The balance of Texas and New York, as well as New Jersey and Connecticut, are scheduled to begin receiving Volts in early 2011. The Chevrolet Volt (pictured here) in front of the Texas State Capital in Austiin, Texas Wednesday, June 30, 2010. (Photo by Steven Noreyko for Chevrolet)
  • A pre-production Chevrolet Volt passes a trolley while navigating the steep climbs of the San Francisco Bay area while on an engineering development drive Saturday, April 25, 2010 in San Francisco, California The Volt will be available in California during the last quarter of 2010. (Photo by Martin Klimek for Chevrolet)
  • A pre-production Chevrolet Volt drives near the Golden Gate Bridge while on an engineering development drive in San Francisco, California Saturday, April 25, 2010. The Volt will be available in California during the last quarter of 2010. (Photo by Martin Klimek for Chevrolet)
  • A pre-production Chevrolet Volt navigates the steep climbs of the San Francisco Bay area while on an engineering development drive Saturday, April 25, 2010 in San Francisco, California The Volt will be available in California during the last quarter of 2010. (Photo by Martin Klimek for Chevrolet)
  • The new Chevrolet Volt electric vehicle with extended range on display at Columbia University on Earth Day, Thursday, April 22, 2010 in New York, NY. (Photo by Todd Plitt for Chevrolet)
  • The new Chevrolet Volt electric vehicle with extended range drives through campus at Columbia University on Earth Day, Thursday, April 22, 2010 in New York, NY. (Photo by Todd Plitt for Chevrolet)
  • The new Chevrolet Volt electric vehicle with extended range drives through campus at Columbia University on Earth Day, Thursday, April 22, 2010 in New York, NY. (Photo by Todd Plitt for Chevrolet)
  • The Chevrolet Volt �Freedom Drive� across the country continues in Fairfax, Virginia Saturday, July 3, 2010 as the Volt participates in the annual Independence Day Parade. The Volt, an electric vehicle with extended range. will finish its four-day, 1,776 mile route in New York City on Sunday. (Photo by Mark Finkenstaedt for Chevrolet)
  • The Chevrolet Volt �Freedom Drive� across the country continues in Fairfax, Virginia Saturday, July 3, 2010 as the Volt participates in the annual Independence Day Parade. The Volt, an electric vehicle with extended range. will finish its four-day, 1,776 mile route in New York City on Sunday. (Photo by Mark Finkenstaedt for Chevrolet)
  • The Chevrolet Volt �Freedom Drive� across the country continues in Fairfax, Virginia Saturday, July 3, 2010 as the Volt participates in the annual Independence Day Parade. The Volt, an electric vehicle with extended range. will finish its four-day, 1,776 mile route in New York City on Sunday. (Photo by Mark Finkenstaedt for Chevrolet)
  • A pre-production Chevrolet Volt electric vehicle with extended range travels around Pier 92 during a media test drive in New York, NY on Monday, March 29, 2010. (Photo by Steve Fecht for Chevrolet) (3/29/2010)
  • A pre-production Chevrolet Volt electric vehicle with extended range travels around Pier 92 during a media test drive in New York, NY on Monday, March 29, 2010. (Photo by Steve Fecht for Chevrolet) (3/29/2010)
  • The first pre-production Chevrolet Volt rolls off the line at the Detroit-Hamtramck manufacturing plant Wednesday, March 31, 2010 in Detroit, Michigan. The pre-production versions of the Volt will not be sold at dealerships, but will be used to assure all steps in the production system will meet the quality targets set by the Volt engineering team. (Photo by John F. Martin for Chevrolet) (04/01/2010)
  • A Chevrolet Volt battery at the General Motors Global Battery Systems Lab in Warren, Michigan Wednesday, June 30, 2010. The Chevrolet Volt will offer customers an unprecedented standard 8 year/100,000 mile warranty on its lithium-ion battery. GM engineers have completed more than 1 million miles and 4 million hours of validation battery testing since 2007. Each Volt battery pack has nine modules and 288 cells. GM designed and engineered 99 percent of the 155 components in each battery. (Photo by John F. Martin for Chevrolet)


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