• Feb 22nd 2012 at 3:00PM
  • 20
Newt Gingrich has recently slammed the Chevrolet Volt (... Newt Gingrich has recently slammed the Chevrolet Volt (Gage Skidmore, Flickr).
Republicans vying for the White House and members of Congress looking to appeal to part of their "base" constituents enjoy ridiculing the extended range electric Chevrolet Volt, as well as other electric vehicles they don't see as viable, attractive to drive or even manly.

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, addressing Georgia and Oklahoma Republicans this week singled out the Volt, saying: "You can't put a gun rack in a Volt." The line drew cheers. "We believe in the right to bear arms and we like to bear the arms in our trucks." The full context of Gingrich's screed was a general opposition to the Obama White House's support of investments in alternative energy and what the presidential candidate sees as the President's inaction to stem rising gasoline prices.

General Motors public relations chief Selim Bingol responded: "Newt Gingrich has taken up saying that 'You can't put a gun rack on a Volt.' That's like saying 'You can't put training wheels on a Harley.' Actually, you can. But the real question is 'Why would you?' In both examples: It looks weird. It doesn't work very well, and, there are better places for gun racks and training wheels - pickup trucks and little Schwinns, respectively." Bingol added: "Seriously, when is the last time you saw a gun rack in ANY sedan?"

The Volt has been a favorite target of Republicans over the past several months. Republicans have opposed federal tax credits for electric vehicles. The Volt is eligible for a credit up to $7,500 and the White House is proposing raising it to $10,000 for all EVs.

Republicans have also tied the Volt to the White House's decision to bail out GM with taxpayer funds in 2009 with a larger agenda of pushing electric vehicles. Radio-talk-show host Rush Limbaugh, who aligns himself with Republicans, has frequently ridiculed the government's efforts to promote the sale of electric and extended-range electric vehicles like the Volt and Nissan Leaf. Limbaugh also was among the throng charging that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration mishandled an incident of a fire in a Volt after an accident as a way, alleging pressure from the White House, to shield the car from bad publicity.

Bashing these cars has been an applause line on the Republican campaign trail.

This is unfortunate. A shift toward diversifying the U.S. car fleet away from vehicles that rely on only gasoline to ones that draw on multiple sources of fuel, including natural gas and electricity, will decrease the country's reliance on foreign oil, as well as free consumers from the stranglehold oil companies have over the cost of driving.

The best part of a growing electric fleet of cars for consumers is that utility companies will increasingly become a competitor to oil companies when it comes to pricing per-mile driven.

As gas prices climb back toward $4 per gallon nationally, amid forecasts that $5 per gallon could be a reality in most parts of the country by late spring or early summer, a broader fleet of natural gas and electric vehicles in the U.S. would provide relief. Electric rates and natural gas prices are well below that of gasoline. Prices for electricity and natural gas, too, aren't affected by increased demand for oil in China and Europe, nor strife in the Middle East. They are affected by supply and demand.

A Chevy Volt today costs in excess of $40,000, around $10,000 more than an Audi A3. Some compare the Volt to the Chevy Cruze, which would make the Volt around $20,000 more expensive. But I think the Volt is more aptly compared with the Audi and Volvo S40 sedan because of the premium features and technology found in the car. The federal tax credit brings the Volt's final price pretty close to those vehicles.

The high cost of the Volt, as well as the fully electric Nissan Leaf, is due to the cost of the lithium-ion batteries in the vehicles' drive-train. The costs of the batteries alone is said to be around $10,000.

Conservative writer George Will called the Volt a failure on arrival because the federal government had to "bribe" people to buy them. But it is not unusual for high tech to be expensive in the beginning of consumer sales. The Japanese government, for example, indirectly subsidized the Toyota Prius in the beginning. As more of the vehicles are sold, and manufacturing scale broadens, the price of new tech comes down.

Governments all over the world routinely sponsor and support new transportation technology in cars, trains, buses to advance a change the government deems in the nation's and society's best interest.

But there is no question that electric vehicles, even ones like the Volt that run on both gas and electric power and spare the driver from worry over running out of juice, will continue to face an uphill battle with U.S. consumers, who have historically exhibited a preference for big horsepower and large SUVs.

Singling the cars out for being weak, unmanly, or illegitimate on the campaign trail to appeal to prejudices of those who have never driven the new electric vehicles, or cling to larger, more gas-thirsty cars and SUVs as a matter of personal preference, vanity or social currency, however, seems like a pretty cheap way to debate an important issue.

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  • 20 Comments
      freethinker
      • 3 Years Ago
      This article illustrates perfectly why Republicans are slowly losing ground nationwide. As IQ becomes more and more crucial to success in life, stupid people will simply become too poor and few in number to have a real say in national politics. And what could be more stupid than letting people like Newt and Rush do your thinking for you?
      thefosz
      • 3 Years Ago
      Newt is nothing more than a loud mouth Republican Oil barin. Alway acting in his own best interest.
      • 2 Years Ago
      Why would anyone want to pay $7500 for someone else's agenda? The electric 'cars' have almost no attraction to me. I want to go someplace when I get in my vehicle. Let those that love this technology PAY for it.
      • 3 Years Ago
      YOU HAVE TO REMEMBER THAT MOST OF THESE JERKS WHO ARE PUTTING DOWN ELECTRIC CARS JUST PICK UP A PHONE AND CALL FOR A BIG LIMO FOR ONE PERSON. THIS IS IT ONCE AGAIN. THEY DID IT BEFORE AND NOW THEY WILL TRY AGAIN TO GET RID OF THE ELECTRIC CAR. THATS THE REPUBS AND NEWT AND HIS CROWD. HE HAD TO THROW THE NRA INTO THE MIX. WELL I OWN GUNS AND I DRIVE A SMALL 4 CYL. TRUCK THAT GETS 28 MILES PER GALLON. YOU REPUBS. CAN'T BLAME THIS ON THE MEDIA. IT ALL CAME OUT OF NEWTS OWN MOUTH AND THE GOP IS RIGHT BEHIND HIM. I HOPE THIS WORLD DOES COME TO AN END. ALL THE LYING CHEATING SCUMBAGS NEED TO BE WASHED OFF THE FACE OF THIS EARTH. I KNOW WHICH WAY I AM GOING. I ALSO KNOW WHICH WAY THEY ARE GOING. I HOPE THEY ENJOY HELL.
      jeepman53m
      • 3 Years Ago
      the problem is this lefty kyle....his big problem is it will "hurt obama"...well it should hurt obama!...just the thought of vetoing keystone...and limiting drilling and exploration to make the greenies happy is quite insane. but that what lefties are...this phoney "improving economy"...which is media propaganda anyway....will be scuttled by this fuel increase....
        • 3 Years Ago
        @jeepman53m
        I DON'T UNDERSTAND HOW YOU CAN BLAME ANYONE BUT NEWT AND THE GOP FOR THIS ONE.. IT ALL CAME OUT OF HIS OWN MOUTH. YOU WILL NEVER SEE ANY LIGHT BECUASE ALL YOU HAVE STICKING OUT OF YOUR ASS ARE YOUR TOES. SO YOU WILL NEVER GET TO SEE THE LIGHT, EVER. I DON'T EVEN FEEL SORRY FOR PEOPLE LIKE YOU.
      wrestleprocbt
      • 3 Years Ago
      I think they Volte has potential, but at what price to the taxpayers? Read an article recently stating that GM, which Biden claims is on top of the world and Obama says he saved, is going to be in trouble in 4 years or less again. Guess they better hope he gets reelected so he can give them (the unions) more money! Our money!
      • 3 Years Ago
      the article never really addresses the title -- WHY? IMO politicans follow money and power. they either get paid one way or another to take sides in a political issue or they take sides to gain votes. Notice that Gingrich's comment was made in OK and not in CA. OK is oil and CA is progressive. I'll bet he doesn't take that issue when visiting california! All innovations need money for research and development to the stage of mass production. the Wright brothers flew the kittyhawk for a very short time. Tesla has it's problems with it's cars, but overall the idea is "theirs" and can be viable in the future. Putting money into research and development is an excellent idea. When a reasonably built and priced electric or hybrid pickup is sold that i can put a rifle rack into; then i'll buy one. Range and price are key to selling a pickup due to so many western states having long distances to drive and not much money. I live in a village with 47 houses, 8 not occupied, and only half occupied during the winter. I have to drive an hour to get to a gas station. however, i have electricity and would love to be able to charge my truck up at home, be able to drive to and from town for shopping, and not have to pay for the high price of gas. I have a few solar panels to help out with electricity, but need more if i am going to charge a vehicle's batteries.
        • 3 Years Ago
        WELL I APPLAUD YOU FOR WHAT YOU ARE DOING. THE THING IS DON'T BE ONLY HALF IN GET ALL THE WAY IN.
      atlasdropforge
      • 3 Years Ago
      Greetings All, Time For The Amazing Chevy Volt EREV- Facts Guy to weigh in! Great article David Kiley, keep up the great work! By the way, your were right on with your comparison of the Amazing Chevy Volt EREv to the Audi. Us News has done this already! http://usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/cars-trucks/rankings/Upscale-Midsize-Cars/ And Now......................... The Amazing Chevy Volt Extended Range Electric Vehicle NCD ( Net Cost to Drive ) Bout $37.25 a week! ........What? The Projection For MY 2012 New Vehicle/ US Sales is 14,000,000 Units. This Amazing Chevy Volt EREV Net Cost To Drive Statement Is To These Buyers/ Leasers and to Those Looking to Aquire a 5 Year Old or Newer Used Car, Midsized, Near Luxury Automobile. http://usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/cars-trucks/rankings/Upscale-Midsize-Cars/ Let's try this one more time.....................**$5,364.00 NCD ? **$37.25 a week or less! We now know that the Volt Lease is back for model year 2012. We know that in most states the lessee pays a use tax only on the scheduled lease payments and NOT the MSRP or MSRP+.OR Sale Price! We know that the lease shows on the lessee credit report as total of scheduled payments only, thus not impacting household budget more then the typical $15,000.00 used car, at $299.00 a month with an average of 4 years old and minimal warranty remaining! We know therefore that the 3 year lease is ideal also because the turn in time may well happen as Volt Gen 2 arrives..........No 5-6-7 year contracts. We know that the Fed $7500.00 is captured by the Lessor, US Bank/ Ally Bank and they state, "Us Bank as the lessor holds title to the vehicle . The lessee receives the benefit of the tax credit as an ENHANCEMENT TO TO THE RESIDUAL VALUE..." ...No side loans or other fancy arangements...the $7500.00 credit is a price reduction NOW! Chevrolet announced the MY2012 Chevrolet from $349.00 a month with roughly 7% up front... ( Almost $2,700.00 Stackable Lease Bonus Cash ( a lease rebate ) NOW!) http://www.chevrolet.com/volt-electric-car/ Assuming base Volt with destination included at no more than MSRP. 36 months at $349.00 per month =$12,564.00. Net over the 3 year lease! Now factor in the cost to plug in...... Estimated cost to drive the Volt 40 miles a day at $1.20 a charge=$36.00 a month, http://www.lbwl.com/PEVintro.pdf Plus some gasoline............ With 78% of American Commuters driving 40 miles a day or so......... http://www.bts.gov/publications/omni...pdf/entire.pdf ...................then, here is the fuel costs that the Amazing Chevy Volt EREV will displace each month! Note, average consumer fleet average is 22 mpg, hwy/ city. Lets us 20 mpg for simplicity. With the cost of a gallon of gas at $4.00 that's $8.00 per day or $240.00 a month. With the cost of a gallon of gas at $3.50 that's $7.00 per day or $210.00 a month.
      JPWhite911
      • 3 Years Ago
      EV proponents are partly to blame for the political excoriation of EV's during this election campaign. All too often I hear about the 'green benefits' of driving EV's. Green is on the bottom of my reasons to buy. Green is associated with the Democrats, anti-green with the Republicans. So if you align yourself with green you automatically take political sides. The economic and strategic importance of getting away from oil dependence is more important IMHO. That's whet EV proponents should be promoting. Sure they are greener which appeals to those who are concerned about such things, just don't push the green argument to the forefront.
      • 2 Years Ago
      Republicans are the pro-death party of the energy and chemical companies which is why they not only bash electric cars but doubt that global warming is man-made thanks to fossil fuel burning. The Volt has won the highest consumer satisfaction ranking two years in a row and moves the ball forward on technology. Just as if legalizing marijuana would reduce harder recreational drug use like alcohol, cocaine, speed, opiates, and prescription drugs and legal hemp would reduce the waste of food products like corn for ethanol or trees for paper pulp or reduce destructive cotton for textiles, electric cars would cut down on fossil fuels and move that techology into other areas like home heating/cooling, and quieter more efficient appliances.
      Rick
      • 3 Years Ago
      Well said article. We're talking politics here and the yahoos running will use any trick they can to garner votes. They aren't telling us how they're going to fix things, real or imagined, they're pointing fingers and playing to biases. Does not make me proud to be an American when I see this crap!
      • 3 Years Ago
      Perhaps it isn't that sad that Republicans think that the volt is a waste of taxpayer dollars. IF you all would tell the whole story it would be so much appreciated. Yes the volt can run on an alternate fuel source and that is called coal. Coal the burns and pollutes the atmosphere. Isn't that what the majority of electric companies use to produce their electricity? It's not water, solar or wind. It's not even nuclear, it is COAL. Yes, that would help reduce our need for foreign oil. You know what else would reduce our need for foreign oil? Drilling and refining domestic oil, what a concept that would be. The problem with that is we would have oil speculators out of a job. Oh wait, that wouldn't be a bad think either. I'm sick of the lies of our liberal media. Why don't you make a difference and tell the truth!
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