It's been a long, strange trip for the Chevy Volt from the time when the now-odd-looking concept version (above) was introduced at the 2007 Detroit Auto Show to today. And now, General Motors announced that the second-generation Chevy Volt will make an appearance at the 2015 Detroit show in January. This debut represents a victory for GM with what has easily become the most politicized car of the 21st Century.
There are plenty of reasons for someone to criticize the Volt, but what's amazing is just how much anti-Volt energy has been spent not on things like the styling or how the EREV setup is not as efficient as a pure-EV powertrain. As we wait for more official information on the new Volt, we thought it would be fun to go back and look at some of the most wildly incorrect reporting and strangest attacks on the Volt from the archives. There is so much good stuff out there, it was hard to pare the list down, but these are our five favorites. Amazingly, they're not all clips from Fox News. Check 'em out below.
5. GM Is Going To Stop Making The Chevy Volt In The US
Do you remember when GM was about to move Volt production to China? Well, yeah, this was reported back in early 2012 when a GM executive mentioned that the automaker would get benefits of building the Volt in the places where it sells them. This was spun into a story of GM taking Obama bailout money and then running to China. The Blaze was not happy: "Given the fact that Federal government helped itself to millions and millions of taxpayer dollars under the pretense that it was going to combat high unemployment by creating 'green jobs,' it would seem that moving research and development (and possibly manufacturing) overseas is slightly, well, counterproductive."
Well, of course, that never happened. There's no way to say that GM will never build a version of the Volt in China, but the news we hear rumors of these days is that GM is going to move production of more Volt parts (specifically, the motors) to Michigan from overseas.
4. The Chevy Volt Is A Fire Trap
Yes, there were Volts that caught on fire. Yes, that's a scary thing. But there has never been a Volt that just spontaneously lit up while driving down the road. These were crashed test vehicles with destroyed batteries and plugged-in vehicles that were not the cause. In fact, the result of an official investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found no defect in the Volt's batteries and that NHTSA, "does not believe that Chevy Volts or other electric vehicles pose a greater risk of fire than gasoline-powered vehicles."
There has never been a Volt that just spontaneously lit up while driving down the road.
But, well, you wouldn't know all of that from the breathless coverage about how much of a fiery death trap the Volt is. We've got examples: "The Chevy Cruze is basically a Volt without the dead-weight, flammable 400-pound electric battery," the "oft-flammable Chevy Volt," and, "Readers of my column know that there are few things that I dislike more than the Chevy Volt. ... I don't like that it catches fire." There are plenty more, if you care to find them.
3. The Chevy Volt Will Destroy Your Marriage
This one has confused us ever since Neil Cavuto made it up on Fox Business a few years ago. Somehow, in his mind, arguing over who would plug in the car and then fighting over who forgot would destroy a marriage. While Cavuto has never been shy about his dislike for plug-in vehicles, this is one argument we've never understood and, to be fair, haven't heard repeated around the water cooler much since he first said it. If you'd like to relive the memories, watch this compilation video of Cavuto's anti-Volt crusade and scroll to around 1:50.
2. The Chevy Volt Is Obama's Failure
President Obama has certainly been a booster of the Chevy Volt, but it is most certainly not 'his' car. Still, for some reason, the plug-in hybrid was attached to the president time and time again, from parody political commercials to spam emails. It was a safe attack for some people to make: tie a president they didn't like to a car they didn't like, even though the bailout happened under the Bush administration, and we should all be able to remember that the 2007 Detroit Auto Show took place two years before Obama took office.
Here's an old video that puts many of these attacks into one 60-second spot. China production? Check. Fires? Double-check. Obama? You betcha.
1. The Chevy Volt Is Dying
Yes, GM would be happy to sell more Volts. That much is obvious. Even after many years on the market, the car still hasn't sold as many as GM had hoped to sell in just one year. While GM once spoke of making 120,000 a year, the truth is that the car has sold around 65,000 since the sales debut in late 2010. The company also leveraged the powertrain into the now-cancelled Opel Ampera and the Cadillac ELR, which is selling slowly (578 units so far this year, through the end of July). Still, the Volt certainly isn't dead or a bad deal or a failure or even wildly unpopular. But that's exactly what people have been saying and hoping for for many years, in some cases saying the car is like Obamacare.
So, as we get ready for the next-gen model to appear in January, it's good to remember that you don't have to look to years past to find people who hate the Volt. Passion against the vehicle remains high, as we can see in this article from the spring. We can only imagine how Volt 2.0 is going to excite the commentariat.