How's this for incendiary? General Motors' Chevrolet Volt extended-range plug-in is illustrative of how technological innovation, especially in the transportation sector, is quashed by political partisanship. That's the take of Wards Auto's Drew Winter, as expressed in this editorial.
In his article titled "Why Innovation is Dying in America," Winter spells out how Republicans are trying to cut demand for the Volt, which he calls "the most innovative vehicle to come out of Detroit in a generation," by pointing to a recent fire and saying that the car is dangerous. The Volt has since been tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and retained the IIHS's "top safety" rating, Winter wrote.
Additionally, slow sales imply that Democrats who've been trumpeting the car as a way to cut both greenhouse-gas emissions and dependency on foreign oil aren't doing enough to support the Volt, which costs just $42 a month more than an average new car on a typical auto loan, Winter wrote. GM, which targeted 10,000 Volt sales for its first full year, sold 7,671 Volts in 2011.
The headwinds faced by the Volt are in stark contrast to the Toyota Prius, the development of which was supported by the Japanese government and whose sales in the U.S. were aided by initiatives such as California's decision to give solo Prius drivers access to high-occupancy-vehicle (HOV) lanes and restricted parking space, according to Winter. Last year, Toyota sold more than 136,000 Prius vehicles in the U.S., and those numbers would've been higher if the automaker's supply chain wasn't hampered by the earthquake and ensuing tsunami that struck Japan last March.
Wards: Volt is a symbol of headwinds against U.S. innovation
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