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Limbaugh, Fox News, Tea Party Get What They Want With False Attacks on Chevy Volt: 1300 GM Lay-Offs

By Joe Romm  

"Limbaugh, Fox News, Tea Party Get What They Want With False Attacks on Chevy Volt: 1300 GM Lay-Offs"

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Yesterday, General Motors told 1,300 Detroit employees “they will be temporarily laid off for five weeks” due to lower than expected demand for its Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid-electric vehicle.

No doubt there are many contributing factors, but in January, GM CEO Dan Akerson explained:

We did not design the Volt to become a political punching bag and that’s what it’s become.

He had been called in to testify by the Tea-Party crowd running the U.S. House in a hearing witch-hunt titled, “Volt Vehicle Fire: What Did NHTSA Know and When Did They Know It?” Yes, that’s a reference to Nixon and Watergate!

In fact, NHSTA concluded it does not believe the Volt and other electric vehicles “pose a greater risk of fire than gasoline-powered vehicles.”

Media Matters put together this video of the conservative media misrepresentations:

As TP Green reports, those who launched “conspiracy-tinged partisan attacks” got what they wanted:

Relentless attacks on the Chevy Volt from Rush Limbaugh and Republican politicians have taken their toll, as General Motors has announced a five-week suspension in production of the range-extended electric car. Conservative enemies of clean energy and the Obama administration seized on isolated reports Volts with battery fires, calling the cars “Obama-mandated death traps.” Limbaugh even said GM was a “corporation that’s trying to kill its customers.”

Has there ever been a more relentless partisan campaign against American products and American jobs than this?

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46 Responses to Limbaugh, Fox News, Tea Party Get What They Want With False Attacks on Chevy Volt: 1300 GM Lay-Offs

  1. Limbaugh may have Rushed too far too quickly with his latest attack on Ms. Fluke. He has lost a few advertisers: Quicken Loan, Sleep Train and Sleep Number.

    What we should be doing is making sure that he loses ALL of his advertisers.

    As for the Volt, it will be forever paired along with Solyndra in the vast right wing mythology and no amount of jawboning from the media or from Democrats in Washington will fix that. It would need Motor Trend, Car and Driver, etc. to take a stand… or maybe for NASCAR to start a race series for electric vehicles.

  2. AlaninAZ says:

    I think the real problem is cost and not Rush Limbaugh. At $40,000 it is just too expensive for a car that is a drive around town type of vehicle. I have a 1998 subaru which we will replace at some point. I have solar panels with enough spare capacity to charge the vehicle, yet I would not buy the volt at $40,000. Our annual mileage around town is well under 10,000 miles and gasoline savings just are not high enough to justify a $15,000 (or more) premium over other small cars such as hybrids.

    • Joe Romm says:

      Like I said, there are no doubt many factors. But it is a great car that gets amazing mileage in it’s class in an era of rising gas prices. So yes price matters. But you try launching a new product when a quarter of the media is trying to scare you off. When people have a lot of choices, those kind of myths can do real harm. GM is doing gangbusters otherwise

      • Sasparilla says:

        Excellent points Joe. And that quarter of the media services alot more than a quarter of the population…from a marketing standpoint its amazing what they’ve done.

    • Lionel A says:

      If you had to pay the prices for petrol (gasoline) and diesel that we do over here in the UK then you would soon change your tune.

      • What is the story on converting gasoline vehicles to electric? It is my understanding that it isn’t difficult and is a lot cheaper than the current production vehicles; $3k – $4k in parts with an additional $6k-8k to get it done. Or is this a myth?

        • Sasparilla says:

          It depends David. You can get a Prius converted to 30-40 miles electric only range for about $12k, but you have to feather the accelerator in a Prius to go electric. Toyota just started selling their Plug-in Prius, it has just 11 miles electric range and starts at $32 (extra $7k for that) – so the conversions are cheaper per kWh (battery capacity) – the Volt with much more range gets a bigger tax break because of its bigger battery pack is only $2k more expensive than the PIP. The higher end PIP is actualy at Volt pricing prior to tax break (and more expensive afterwords because of the PIP’s much smaller battery).

          That said – the Volt drives purely on electric till its battery is out (~35 miles) then switches its gas engine if needed (the Prius is not that way).

        • joyce says:

          There is a fellow in our town who has been converting old cars to electric for a long time–with a great track record. Here is the website: http://www.macandmacelectric.com/ The trick is to use an older car that is lightweight–as the batteries do add a lot of weight. He’s very knowledgeable & responsive, if you want to know more.

  3. Albert Johnston says:

    Vehicles like this should attract progressive consumers that seek the latest technology. From torquenews.com – “Ford Motor Company sold 7,351 Mustangs in February 2012, not only allowing their pony car to lead the segment in sales but this number also accounts for a whopping 98.8% increase compared to the same month in 2011.” My point is that people are shopping and buying. And there is definitely a niche for the Volt. As the cost of production comes down it will be a great rival in the hybrid/ev market.

  4. Leif says:

    The GOP will eat their young to please the puppeteers. In fact do so…

  5. JavNJ says:

    Fully loaded at 30K and I would get one Today but I agree with AlaninAZ. At $40K the volt price point is just to high for these tough times. Even with a Goverment $7,500 tax credit the volt is still a tough sell. I know it won’t be the same car but if GM would cut its current price in half I’m willing to bet the farm the Volt would be the most sold car in America.

    • Ken says:

      I agree: I think price is the biggest problem for the Volt. I also think they need more market segmentation:

      - A Volt with a minimal battery pack, and no external charging system, to compete against the Prius. (The problem with this is they still need to get the price down $4000-$6000 more after removing the $8000 battery pack.)
      - A Volt with a moderate battery pack, to compete with the Prius plug-in. (~11 mile range instead of 35, $5000 less than the standard Volt.)
      - A Volt with no gasoline powertrain, all of it replaced by more batteries, to compete with the Nissan Leaf.

      • Joe Romm says:

        I have previously said the Volt was overdesigned. So has CMU.

      • Sasparilla says:

        Something to consider in the pack size discussion is the fact that the tax break scales according to pack size – so there is very little penalty for going with a larger range – and hence you have the base model of the Plug-In Prius with a electric range of 11 miles being only $2k less (if the tax credit is included) than a base Volt with a 35 mile range and pure electric drive-train.

  6. Leif says:

    Perhaps another take by Bob Dylan, 1965, “Highway 61.”

    http://www.bobdylan.com/songs/highway-61-revisited

    “Oh God said to Abraham, “Kill me a son”
    Abe says, “Man, you must be puttin’ me on”
    God say, “No.” Abe say, “What?”
    God say, “You can do what you want Abe, but
    The next time you see me comin’ you better run”
    Well Abe says, “Where do you want this killin’ done?”
    God says, “Out on Highway 61 Revisted.””

    And the last verse:

    “Now the rovin’ gambler he was very bored
    He was tryin’ to create a next world war
    He found a promoter who nearly fell off the floor
    He said I never engaged in this kind of thing before
    But yes I think it can be very easily done
    We’ll just put some bleachers out in the sun
    And have it on Highway 61″

    • Lionel A says:

      And then somebody made ‘Vanishing Point’.

      The actions of Limbaugh & co. make human’s own vanishing point all the more likely.

  7. Tom King says:

    I’m glad that Obama saved GM. But GM’s appearance on the donor list for Heartland is yet another indicator of some sort of internal confusion in the company. They still don’t seem to know if they want to build EV1′s or crush them.
    The Nissan Leaf will be made in Tennessee and strikes me a more pure product.

    • Sasparilla says:

      I am too, but George saved them as well and the Volt was given to go ahead to production long before Obama was elected.

      If the Volt ever gets killed, the Leaf will be the next target for these folks and after it the other automakers would drop their very small money loosing EV programs like hot potato’s….it’d be up to Tesla at that point.

  8. seakat says:

    Yet another one of the Republicans great jobs programs?

  9. oggy bleacher says:

    Those paper thin shill tramps on Fox sound like WWF cage match wrestlers except they’re paid by the catch-phrase. If you buy whatever is advertised on Fox then you keep these charlatans in business. If Chevy advertises on Fox then they are idiots.

  10. Sasparilla says:

    Absolutely bad news, makes me sad seeing this on so many levels.

    The relentless concerted right wing attack (Fox News, GOP talking heads, Limbaugh) on this car launched under George Bush that gives the US consumer the ability to change US energy policy at the consumer level, has been expensive, consistent and obviously played a part is tarnishing this car in the heads of a big chunk of potential wealthy consumer’s who might have otherwise been open to paying more to get off foreign oil.

    Something not noted enough was how big a job Fox News played in these attacks (size is much bigger than Rush’s audience), consistently, week after week they had some stupid (very expensive air time) news on the Volt to tarnish its image in consumers heads before they ever get to consider one. And anyone in the conservative sphere that gets one will take serious heat for it because of what the “alternate” view of reality says about this great car constantly….who’ll want to do that there.

    Big oil played dirty before in CA in the 90′s and I’m sure their fingerprints are all over this (and its continuation…they won’t stop now).

    $40k is too high, but when launched they expected to be able to sell it for $30k (before incentives) and like many 1st generation technologies costs were higher. 2nd Generation costs should come down considerably.

    If you can stand a lease (and battery tech will be significantly better at the end of that lease) GM has great leases (better than the Leaf) on the Volt as they are assuming a high resale value after lease. Here in Illinois a Chevy dealer in the suburbs is leasing them for $325 a month (I’d guess $350 a month would be an achievable rate for most people).

    One other thing, GM was just rolling the CA HOV lane Volt’s out now (first ones are just getting there) and just starting to export to Europe (where orders are at 6,000) so they’ll have demand coming but this is not good news. Production will continue for 2 more weeks before the temporary shutdown.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      The Volt is just a thing, an object, an otherness for the Rightwing (fill in your favourite psychological, moral and intellectual malignancy)to vent their unlimited reserves of hatred upon. It does not matter what it is, the Right must hate-it’s their existential fuel. Without an external ‘enemy’ they would turn on each other, or themselves. It just comes with the mental terrain, the training, the genetic predisposition. A world dominated by the Right must be a world dominated by cruelty, violence and destruction. There is no escape. Limbaugh is not a poor, misinformed, soul, who can be put on the correct path. He would have to cease being himself, which, at his age and with his pre-morbid body habitus, would be a possibly mortal life-threatening discontinuity.

  11. fj says:

    Now this only leaves for these geniuses the complete collapse of the world’s ocean ecosystems and civilization as we know it; not a very tall order for these high talent individuals.

  12. MarkfromLexington says:

    I’ve received two emails from Tea Party sources attacking the Volt. Both emails were exactly the same, they both claimed to be a report of an actual Volt test drive – but each one named a different person who was supposed to have conducted this test.

    The email starts out by claiming that the tester pays $1.16 per kWh for electricity. It goes down hill from there, including claims that you have to stop and charge the battery for 10 hours to complete a 270 mile trip.

    Of course, a Volt has no need to stop and charge its batteries to complete a 270 mile trip…

    It is a classic FUD campaign. Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt.

  13. Joe,

    I think there’s a reasonable chance that GM released the Volt as a terrible value proposition with the premeditated intent of being able to claim that ‘American’s just don’t want to buy electric cars,’ and thus continue to support this nation’s fossil fuels plutocracy.

    At $40k, the Volt costs twice as much as Nissan’s Leaf, and the Volt only gets 35 miles on a charge, at which point it has to switch to gas, and then it gets only 37 mpg! Volts aren’t gathering dust in showrooms because of Fox News (die-hard Fox News watchers weren’t about to buy an EV anyway), but because the Volt is an awful value.

    I actually anticipated this result in a blog entry three months back (http://sierraclub.typepad.com/gaa/2011/12/chevy-volt-all-things-to-all-people.html) wherein I recommend folks buy almost any EV other than the Volt.

    Cheers,

    - G

    • *Americans. I hate typos!

    • Sasparilla says:

      “At $40k, the Volt costs twice as much as Nissan’s Leaf”

      Sorry Garvin, gotta call a Pinocchio on you there – you’re not with Fox news are you? (just joking).

      The Leaf starting retail is $35k for the low end vehicle although most go for the SL which starts at $37k. The Volt starts at $39k. That’s not half the price, that’s $4k difference. It’s 1st generation tech and its expensive for both. The lease rate on the Volt is the same or less than the Leaf because the Volt is calculated to hold its value better (probably based of the expected decline of the Leaf batt pack capacity over time).

      The Leaf is an EV that gives you 75 mile range, considerably less in cold weather (go read in the Leaf forums about the guys keeping the heater off to extend range…).

      The Volt is a plug in vehicle that drives like an EV (only electric) for the first 35 miles of its range and then if you need to go further starts its gasoline engine up and gives high 30′s to low 40′s in realworld mileage (city or highway). If its really cold (less than 2x degrees the volt will start its engine to get things warmed up if needed then shut it off to drive electric).

      At this point the Leaf is a great 2nd vehicle that you can use as a primary vehicle (a few use it as the only vehicle, but most owners do not). The Volt is a great vehicle if you want to go electric but want the flexibility to drive as long as necessary whenever you want (single car owners or folks that want that flexibility).

      For either vehicle it isn’t a value proposition that gets the sale (they’re too expensive for that) its because of some larger reason (oil, climate change etc.) and the customer has the money and will to do so.

      For straight on value sales I think we’ll need to wait until Generation 3 (~2020) for battery technology advances to make plug-ins no brainers when buying a vehicle. JMHO…

      • Jay Turner says:

        I get about 90 to 100 miles per charge with my Leaf, depending on the weather and how economically I choose to drive. And you’re right about needing two cars. Sometimes I need to go farther than 45 miles each way, so it’s a good thing I kept my Prius. For families with more than one car where someone needs to commute a reasonable distance, the Leaf is a fine addition to the family fleet. If you can really only have one car, the Volt would probably serve you better. Unfortunately, I’m too big to get into a Volt (but the Prius and the Leaf are comfortable for me).

  14. Sasparilla says:

    Couple of other things just for detail reference.

    GM reported record (for the company’s history) profits for 2011 – this is not an issue for GM in general, largest costs were during development (nearly all of which occurred before Obama was elected).

    GM sold about 50% more Volts in the US in their first year than Toyota did with the Prius (7,700 vs 5,600 for the Prius) and GM was production limited for those first year sales (GM was shooting for 10k in production – battery production limited etc. – but had some issues and sold nearly all they produced although the GOP PR campaign against the car was having an effect by the end of the year). During this time Volt’s were not eligible for HOV lane stickers in CA (limiting sales in CA – face palm GM).

    GM was hoping to scale production to 65,000 this year (including exports) but with almost half the market now turned off to their product, sales were not increasing rapidly enough (although they were increasing last month).

    Frankly its pretty amazing – Rush, Fox News and assorted Republican Politicians just turned off about 40% – 50% of the potential market for a single car (a car that has no problems and could get us off oil), I’m sure this was done in cahoots and the guidance of Big Oil – regardless that’s just massively effective propaganda. Joseph Goebbels would be proud.

    Production of the Volt occurs at the MI, Hamtrack plant where the EV1 was built so shortly in the 90′s. Engine production and battery production have been brought to MI this year (last year they were imported).

  15. Mike 22 says:

    IMO the target is not the Volt, but the battery making capacity here in the US. Kill the battery factories before they get further along the learning curve, and you push back the renewables/plug-in paradigm for several years. Then we get to import our plug-in batteries instead of buy American. I hate these people.

  16. Sue says:

    Looks like they may be making progress — in an article from Autopia:

    A California company says it has built a better battery that could make EVs more efficient and affordable.

    Envia Systems, a startup that’s licensed technology from the Argonne National Laboratory and conducted research with funding from the Department of Energy and GM’s venture capital arm, says its proprietary anode, cathode and electrolyte could cut the cost of an EV battery by half.

    Once the technology is commercialized, Envia estimates it could help bring the cost of a 300-mile EV down to as low as $20,000. That could bring the cost of the next generation Chevy Volt low enough for most families to afford — and without any additional tax credits, either.

  17. Fred K says:

    Speaking as an actual owner of a Chevy Volt I can tell you that the Volt is a fantastic car and if the bashers at Fox claim to be such patriots then what are they doing to get this nation off foreign oil? Last month I drove 292 miles on electric power and 5 miles on gas power. I have not purchased gas since Thanksgiving! The price tag for a Volt is out of the price range for many but if you can afford it and you care about climate change and our nation’s addiction to oil then BUY ONE! Since the price on batteries and electric vehicles will most certainly be going down and the price of gas will most certainly be going up, buying an electric car will soon be the smart thing to do.

    • Tim says:

      As much as I loathe Limbaugh, FOX, and Tea Party cretins, this comment illustrates why they really aren’t responsible for lower-than-hoped-for Volt sales. I really think that virtually every prospective Volt buyer hates these creeps just as much as I do – Limbaugh/FOX/denier propaganda is, if anything, more likely to make me buy a Volt just to spite them. No one who cares about climate change and the future our children and grandchildren face is swayed by right wing propagandists.

  18. David Lewis says:

    Bob Lutz, said by some to have been the driving force behind the Volt was on Bill Maher the other night. Maher brought up the fact that Lutz had said in 2004 that “global warming is a crock of sh*t”. “And my attitude has been reinforced since then” said Lutzd. “Abnormal weather patterns… have been a fact of life” for ever. There no consensus of climate scientists about anything. Not one single prediction the IPCC ever made has come true. They said the oceans were “gonna get hot”, and they didn’t, he said. Al Gore said Katrina was just the beginning, that we could expect much worse and it didn’t happen. Neil deGrasse Tyson was on the show as well. Tyson challenged Lutz to a bet that couldn’t be settled for 50 years – you invest in companies that will benefit if there is no global warming, I’ll invest in ones that will benefit, and in 50 years, your group will be broke. I would have bet a billion dollars Lutz was wrong when he asserted that the oceans were not warming up. Lutz ended the show bragging that he was so confident there was nothing to worry about “I bought a house in the Keys. Its supposed to be under water three years ago”. Ha Ha Ha.

    He said Congress bailed out GM because Congress knew it had driven GM to bankruptcy with 30 years of bad policy that GM could not have been expected to survive under. The bank crisis was just the straw that broke GMs back. He said GM made all those giant cars because that was what the market demanded. He said the Europeans pay a lot more for gas than we do in the US and they are buying a lot of big cars over there now. He said the big shock US consumers had over high gas prices when the Volt was conceived was due to the sudden just about doubling in price, now its under their belts, no one cares, and he sounded like its his idea that its party time, roll out the SUVs, keep up the climate change denial, con the Congress into whatever they can, and continue on until the asteroid strikes and they are finally extinct.

    • Tim says:

      Bob Lutz said so many things that were just plainly wrong that one quickly rteralizes why GM went broke: it’s managers were morons.

    • Sasparilla says:

      There’s alot of irony there – the guy most repsonsible for a US auto company’s plug-in vehicle is an unabashed denier for climate change and other things. That said, Lutz was about the looks and designs of vehicles (chrystler minivan that was him, BMW 3 series that was him, Chevy Malibu that won all those awards that was him) not guiding the company.

      Regardless he (and many others at GM) made this plug-in vehicle happen and its under attack from the industry that stands to loose long term from its success.

  19. From Peru says:

    The term “enemies of the People” comes to my mind when I read about the tactics of these big oil puppets to demolish the growing clean energy economy.

    If this slander against clean energy isn’t alarmism,what else it could be?

    The Chinese government (i.e. the Communist Party of China) surely is happy to see the competence for its future mass production of electric vehicles is destroyed by western big oil capitalists…

    But since what is at stake is not just the USA economy, but the living environment of everyone in this planet, this make this big oil puppets enemies of humanity, or to be more general, enemies of advanced life.

    “advanced life” are multicellular complex organisms like plants and animals. Bacteria and protozoa, being simpler, are lot more resistent to chemical and physical stress and so are not usually severely hurt by pollution. Many of them are even favored(some of this group are deadly bacteria that produce chemicals toxic to advanced life forms)

  20. Shelli Neal says:

    I drive a 2012 Volt. I purchased it in September 2011 and I absolutely love it! The Volt does use some gas to power the battery (after you run out of the 30 – 35 mile electric charge). I drive about 25 miles to work and plug my Volt in there. Our parking garage has several electric plugs – most do. The cost to charge the Volt is less than $1.50 a day if you plug in 24 – 7. I am able to drive home from work without using any gas at all. I fill up with gas for around $25.00 about every two weeks. My previous vehicle was a 2010 Tahoe. I am saving approximately $500.00 per month on gas. After taking of advantage of the $7,500.00 federal tax credit for purchasing the Volt, this car cost about $20,000 less than a 2011 Tahoe was going to cost. The car does not only go fast, it goes really fast. The pick up is incredible and I get compliments on the way it looks constantly. When this “fire story” first hit the air waves, Chevy sent all Volt owners a letter offering to let us pick any car GM makes at no cost to us and they would take back the Volt. I did not even consider taking them up on it. No one is taking my Volt any where. I guess it should come as no surprise to hear Fox News, Wolf Blitzer and Bill O’Reilly lying to its viewers. They should be completely ashamed of themselves.

    • Fred K says:

      Thanks Shelli, I feel the same way about my Volt, they will never take it from me until they pry it from my cold dead fingers. This car is different from the EV-1, because you can OWN it. It’s not a lease whereby you have to rely on the benevolence of the car company to extend the lease. By the way readers should be aware that some states give rebates for electric cars in addition to the Federal Rebate. I got a rebate check from the state of Pennsylvania for $3500.00 for my Volt. The state of PA is offering that rebate for the first 500 alternative fuel vehicles sold in the state of Pa.

  21. Larry Keith says:

    I purchased my Volt 11/11. Expensive price – yes.
    Great driving car – yes.
    90 – 100 mph charging equation – yes.
    3500 miles to date & 12.9 gallons used equates to 250 + mpg – yes.
    Lack of concern regarding right wing propaganda – yes.
    I’m happy with my choice of driving of a vehicle that frees me from the corporate machine that is undermining the middle class of this once great country…oh yeah, and I don’t mind that I’m not exhausting pollutants into the atmosphere

  22. Obama 2012 says:

    “Conservatives” (I put it in quotes because they are really just right wing lunatics) would gladly destroy the US economy if they thought it would get Obama out of the White House. They are as far from from being a real patriot as you can be.