Skip to comments.Crotchety Bob Lutz Leads GM’s Defense of the Chevy Volt
Posted on 03/14/2012 8:40:26 AM PDT by jazusamo
Anyone following the intriguing Chevy Volt story has seen the internet headlines trumpeting the blog by General Motors' Bob Lutz in which he blasts Bill O'Reilly, Fox News and what he calls, "the rabid, sadly misinformed right." It remains a mystery as to why GM would take a politicized stance and join up with those on the left that want to complicate the story on the poor sales for the heavily subsidized and even more heavily hyped Chevy Volt and somehow connect the lack of demand to a Republican political conspiracy.
Before moving on to the Lutz offensive defense, let's review the facts. Sales for the much-hyped Chevy Volt have never materialized. Prior to the ridiculous misdirection play by GM and Lutz ( yes, he is a paid consultant for GM ) that sees Fox News and Rush Limbaugh being vilified for criticizing the Volt, the excuse for the low sales was that supply could not keep up with demand. Another subsidized electric car, the Nissan Leaf, also suffers from poor sales. The Leaf hasn't been criticized to the extent of the Volt, yet sales have recently been even lower than the Volt. The low sales for EVs can not be blamed on critics. Why does GM continue to lie about the reasons for the low demand for the Volt when the answer is obviously that the car is too expensive to appeal to average consumers who do not see the additional cost outweighed by the value of plugging a vehicle in for 10 hours to go about 30 miles on a charge before switching to premium fuel?
GM and Bob Lutz are now strange bedfellows with others on the political left that can not accept the failure of the Volt. Climatecrocks.com states, "One thing climate deniers seem to hate even more than a black president is the electric hybrid Chevy Volt." And, "A concentrated attack from the increasingly irrational far right media may have had an impact on sales." An increasingly crotchety Bob Lutz states in his blog, "So, the loony right has its jaws sunk into the Volt with all the stupid determination of a terrier who has locked his teeth into the mailman's butt. And with the same result: painful, but without any useful purpose. So, if this continues, will we see the Republican presidential campaign centered on the Volt, with catchy slogans like 'Vote Republican! Kill the Volt before it kills you?'"
Here's the thing, auto journalists know the truth about the reason for low Volt sales. The media allows GM and Lutz to make ludicrous accusations and very few question the strategy. So, I know GM continues to deceive when it comes to the Volt, but I still am trying to figure out why. The very intriguing question at this point is, "what does GM have up its sleeve and what's their next move?"
Usually you can follow the money to discover what motivates such deceit as we have seen with the Volt. When crony companies like General Electric commit to buying thousands of Volts, it is not hard to figure out that they stand to profit from selling charging stations. GE's CEO, Jeff Immelt, has a cozy relationship with President Obama and the company is one of the main recipients of a green energy policy that continues to gift taxpayer funds to companies like GE. What has become bizarre has been the political nature of GM as we approach the 2012 elections. Why would a publicly traded company focus more on political goals than on profitability?
It is important to remember that the government continues to hold a large stake in GM as they refuse to sell the taxpayers' "investment" in the company. President Obama appointed GM CEO, Dan Akerson, as well as some of the board members. While claims have been made that the government does not get involved with GM's business, evidence previously surfaced that the administration was more involved than thought. Emails were discovered that saw a coordination with the Obama team when then CEO, Ed Whitacre, made false claims in a TV ad that GM's loans were repaid in full. Fairly recent statements by Akerson revealed a desire to see gas prices rise to $5 a gallon, a scenario that would cost GM and shareholders profits. The insane defense of the Volt is also hard to figure. The political nature of the new Chevy Volt defense can not be ignored, especially given the criticism of Fox and Rush Limbaugh which mirrors the Democrats' political strategy.
The silly defense of the Volt that blames the right for poor sales stinks of politics. It is obvious that the false claims and accusations are not designed to fool those that have followed the Volt story closely and recognize the deception. What amazes me is that a corporation in a competitive industry would risk alienating a large segment of the population by insulting Republicans, conservatives and viewers of Fox. The boycott of GM products to this point has only consisted of those that had strong feelings against the bankruptcy process and the wasting of taxpayer money spent on the Chevy Volt. GM now risks losing more customers because of its politicized strategy which insults many in the country. All just to convince Americans that the Volt is a success? In politics, convincing 51% of voters can make you a winner. In the auto industry, alienating about 40% of the population will certainly make you a loser.
The real mystery is where the Volt story heads now. The most likely scenario is that GE steps up its orders of Volts, possibly along with other groups as influenced by the Obama Administration, just as we approach November elections. It is possible that the sales will not be recorded as GE purchases if vehicles get registered under GE employee names. GM can declare success for the Volt and the left gets to condemn Republicans, claiming that they tried to prevent the car from succeeding which would have cost American jobs. The fact that the public is now aware of this scam may prevent this from playing out.
Another scenario just sees GM continuing to spend tens of millions of dollars on ads and incentives to sell Volts. Much of this will go to Fox News in an attempt to influence coverage of the Volt story. Does anyone else find it strange that GM spends so much advertising the Volt on O'Reilly while acting like they are outraged by his reporting? Viewers of O'Reilly probably have noticed that the coverage isn't really negative at all. This was a fabrication by Lutz and GM which focused on a couple of infrequent comments and is designed to fool those that don't watch the show. I can even envision an O'Reilly interview with Lutz being planned with Lutz promoting the Volt on the show. Ratings for the show would benefit, ad dollars would continue to flow and the Volt would get more hype. Sales for the Volt may approach 2,000 to 3,000 a month at an expense of about $10,000 per vehicle in ads and incentives and the still dismal sales figures would be declared a great success since the bar was set so low. Leaf comparisons would continue since the additional millions spent on the Volt will ensure victory over the Leaf.
The last scenario I could see playing out is a final admission by GM that the Volt has failed and they are halting production. This is the least likely option, but the vehicle is costing GM both in terms of credibility lost and profit dollars lost. The failure would be blamed on Republicans who "unfairly" criticized the car and didn't give it a chance to succeed, thus costing jobs and condemning the planet to a fiery, global warming induced, future catastrophe.
So, stay tuned. The Volt has given us a show that can be described as mystery, comedy and tragedy all in one. Just remember that there has also been much fiction if GM claims that Bob Lutz is not speaking for GM. And many are helping to write the script.
Mark Modica is an NLPC Associate Fellow.
This tax credit is for all EVs that qualify and includes the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf.
Answering a few question -
Why do Feds continue to hold GM stock? - Everything about Feds is about POWER. Holding this stock gives them POWER over GM. They could give a hoot about finance, freedom, technology, etc - they trample those categories daily.
Lutz is a PR man, with politcal - not technical - skill set. Look at the coverage and attention he is garnering for his bosses. Did he have a few good runs - a few DECADES ago? He isn’t a technologist - just an old man. Probably - played the political game for his victories then, and continues to play the same game now.
They should bring back the second gen EV1 (aka Impact) since at least it got between 100 and 140 miles per charge.
And here I thought Lutz was an actual car guy...
I seem to recall back just before the election in ‘08 that Rush was buds with Lutz. He had GM as a sponsor and was always talking about the latest GM car they had in the parking lot that GM had provided to test/try out. He was definitely on good terms with Lutz back them. My how times can change..lol
Delusional, old fool, Obama shill is just spouting out what somebody else wrote for him to say...and getting paid to do it. No surprise. The Volt sucks. And everybody knows it...except Lutz.
I agree on both points.
Obama and thugs view holding the stock as power and control, he could care less it’s the taxpayers money.
Lutz should fade away while he still has a little self respect.
IMHO it needs a super-capacitor and and that may allow the engine to run at a constant RPM with enough juice when you step on it at highway speeds on a hill fully loaded. Problem is that super-capacitor isn't here yet...
It's like crack cocaine or a bad realestate investment. Once you get into the game, it is increasingly hard to get out. It can cost you more to get out than it might to invest more in hopes of reducing the financial impact. Proof: Look what Trump did to the banks in the 90s. They loaned him so much money they couldn't afford for him to go bankrupt. So they loaned him more. It worked for many of the banks. They didn't lose as much money.
Look at California. Many of the large companies headquartered there have so many favors and legislative loopholes as a result of their "political investments" they can't afford to get out. They can't leave the state and they can't afford to relax their political contributions too much.
GE and Chevy are indirectly (and to some extent directly) dependent on the government. Not so much for their survival any more, but for the health of their company, they have to Let it Ride or even Press their Bet.
Their biggest fear? ...A conservative gets elected and turns off the money spigot. After a couple years of no government "help" these companies will run out of places to hide the declines and start posting dismal numbers. Their stocks will slide again and CEOs will get fired before the cycle repeats itself. Save them! Let them Fail! Save them!
I wonder why he didn’t complain about Hannity. Could it be because Hannity isn’t hard on GM because took in a lot ad revenue from the bail out money to promote Chevy?
Well said, and Obama wanting to raise the tax credit from $7,500 to $10,000 per vehicle bears it out.
I think the Volt will go down in history as the only car with a worse sales record than the Edsel.
Would you buy anything from this car salesman?
I'm glad they don't recognize obvious facts. The Volt is one of the worst cars for the money ever produced in world history - this is a golf cart with a Corvette sticker (okay, a Volt is in the low $40k range and the entry level Corvette is in the high $40k range, but it's close). Lutz is right in one sense though. If the Volt wasn't such a piece of trash that real car lovers laugh at the few morons who buy it, I would still refuse to consider a Volt because GM is a massively corrupt company that deserves to be boycotted forever. The immoral tactics used to stiff their bondholders in the Bailout are unforgivable.
The Chevy Volt (marshmallows and S'Mores sticks not included)
Why is it that communists consistently make the most memorable failed automobiles?
To which I responded, “I'd be interested in teleportation too as long as it was cost effective and safe. Should the government mandate all transportation companies start producing teleportation systems? Beam me up!”
I couldn't agree more.
GM is a multinational corporation. A few years back, they were crowing about how Buick was the best selling car line in China. Then, Buick wasn’t the best selling car line in China. GM goes bankrupt and the American taxpayers bail GM out. This influx of taxpayer money means that GM doesn’t have to increase the price of their cars in China, and GM goes back to number one in China. The car owners in China say thank-you to their friends and benefactors, the US taxpayers, for helping to keep car prices low in China. Can’t we at least get some free moo goo gai pan?
“Everything about Feds is about POWER. Holding this stock gives them POWER over GM.”
Don’t kid yourself. General Motors Company execs don’t mind and actually prefer the current arrangement.
At least that’s what my instincts are telling me.
My how money changes times AND principles.
Some people are just more expensive whores than others.
A clear conflict of interest can be an awfully expensive thing to some and an awfully profitable one for others.
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