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.
*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.
Related Gallery2011 Chevrolet Volt
[Sources: Detroit Free Press, RushLimbaugh.com]