Debunking ridiculous myths about the Chevy Volt

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reikiman
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It's really bugging me all the trashing being heaped upon the Chevy Volt. Originally when I learned of that car, I didn't like the idea, the gas engine is a compromise that offended my "100% pure electric vehicle" stance. But the more I write news articles about the Volt, the more I grow to like the pragmatic choice. In any case, there's a bunch of right wing extremists bashing the Chevy Volt with outrageous stories that are 100% false. It seems like they don't even care they're lying through their teeth. They just want to bash it, apparently so they can damage Obama, and they don't care how much damage they're causing in the process.

What I want to do is debunk a blog post I just found that's full of this gunk. I'm not going to link to the blog post because it's not worthy of gaining the link juice.

Obama’s Chevy Volt is a tax on the middle class

That's the blog post title. That is, if you want to find the blog post, search for its title. Anyway, that's where the lies begin, calling the Volt a product of Obama. The actual history is that the Volt project began in 2006-7, when Obama was still a Senator. It's incorrect to say Obama forced GM to build this car, GM had decided ahead of time to do so.

Very few Americans will ever own a Chevy Volt, most of us don’t want to.

As an assertion - I don't have enough data to properly refute this. I can see lots of positive discussion of the Volt, but I've also read marketing surveys suggesting that at this point in time few Americans are interested in electric cars to begin with.

There is virtually no practical value to the car, it’s expensive to purchase, maintain and refuel.

The primary reason for resistence to the existing crop of electric cars is the price. See Lowered demand in Chevy Volt due to price, not fires, interest in Nissan Leaf stable for some discussion.

However - expensive to maintain & refuel? That's where the lies start up again. Basically, straight-up electric cars require less maintenance because the systems are simpler. The Volt with its gasoline engine should still require all the same maintenance rigamarole. Fuel on an electric car is cheaper than fuel for a gasoline car, if you look at the "fuel" required to go a given distance.

http://www.torquenews.com/1075/why-electric-cars-are-cheaper-drive-gasoline-cars
http://www.torquenews.com/1075/consumer-reports-testing-leaf-and-volt-shows-theyre-cheaper-run-gasoline-cars

In spite of the hype, production of electricity to charge the battery creates more pollution per mile than a gasoline fueled vehicle.

There was a recent study from China which came to this conclusion. However, China's coal plants are very dirty, whereas the U.S. coal plants are cleaner due to more stringent pollution controls at U.S. plants.

This sort of argument seems to ignore the side effects of gasoline production, as well as the side effects of oil extraction etc.

There's a factoid I've been hearing a lot lately, that it requires 6 kilowatt hours of electricity to refine a gallon of gasoline. If you repurposed that electricity to drive an electric car, the electricity would propel that electric car as far as the gasoline would. http://greentransportation.info/how-much-electricity-is-used-refine-a-gallon-of-gasoline

http://greentransportation.info/critiquing-the-coal-powered-ev-dismissal-of-electric-cars

Besides that if you’re traveling any distance you’ll be be running on the gasoline auxiliary engine anyway. The auxiliary engine gets miserable gas mileage.

Again - this is talking about the Chevy Volt, and yes of course a long distance trip will use the gasoline engine. That's the design of the Volt, the pragmatic choice.

The car gets 35 MPG on gasoline. That's "miserable"?

Now there is a new problem, the federal government just announced it needed to spend $4.4 million to train firefighters how to put out fires in the vehicle without getting electrocuted.

And? Firefighters get training for all kinds of things all the time. For example, training on hazardous materials that get carried on trucks. Of course there's a risk that emergency workers of all kinds would get hurt working a wreck that includes electric cars, and that the risk is different than they face in wrecks involving gasoline cars. What's the big deal?

The car already has a reputation for being fire prone anyway.

Here's another lie. Complete, utter, bogus, lie. I've done a number of news reports and also written up an extensive summary of the Chevy Volt battery fire story. The issue is that one Volt caught fire following a crash test. In later testing of the battery packs the NHTSA investigators managed to force two battery packs to catch fire. However these right winger extremists have been blowing this out of proportion, calling the Volt words like "flammable" or "incendiary" just like they did in the 70's against the Ford Pinto.

http://greentransportation.info/chevy-volt-battery-pack-fire-in-2011

I think the simple answer for most fire-fighters will be if they don’t have to get somebody out of the car………. will be to take cover in case it explodes and let the damn thing burn.

This is an example of the overhyped sort of lies that get pushed about the Volt. The battery pack fire takes 3 weeks to go from accident to fire, and the condition has not happened in actual practice only in crash testing. There have been serious Volt wrecks, with no fire. There were subsequent Volt crash tests after the NHTSA had a fairly good idea of what the cause of that fire might be, and they were unable to replicate the fire. Hence, the conditions that led to the crash test fire must be rare and difficult to produce.

This is hardly as dangerous a car as this sort of hype would have you believe

By government standards 4.4 million isn’t much, only a few cents per taxpayer. But the taxpayers have already picked up all the research development cost for the car. All the stimulus money that was invested in it and then there is the tax credit that Non Chevy Volt owners get stuck making up for. Pretty soon those pennies per car per taxpayer start to add up. Obama is just asked for an increase in the tax credit, bringing that to $10,000 per car.

Yes, the $4 million for firefighter training is actually money well spent. They'll be that much safer and more capable of handling this new sort of technology.

As for whether the Stimulus money should have gone into building electric car and lithium battery factories ..etc.. That's a good question to ponder. However, this sort of subsidy program has been going on for decades in all kinds of products.

There's a big HARUMPH going on trying to claim it's wrong for Government to Subsidize a desirable technology, and to interfere with the Free Market, and to pick Winners and Losers in the free market of corporate competition. There's a certain truth to that argument, except that this sort of practice has gone on for decades, as I said.

For example, the Internet would not exist if it were not for the U.S. Department of Defense funding of corporations and research institutions who designed the Internet. The Internet would not have become popular if the NREN expansion of the Internet in 1988ish had not occurred. In that time frame there was a number of competing network protocols being sold, and if the Internet had not been big enough to be competitive with those networks, then those networks would have remained in a dominant position.

That's just one example of the U.S. Government subsidizing a given technology over other technologies, causing some companies to win and others to lose.

The purpose in such cases is theoretically to create something for the common good.

I'm surprised that blog post didn't repeat the bogus claim that the Federal Subsidy for the Volt adds up to $250,000 per car. http://www.torquenews.com/1075/250k-chevy-volt-subsidy-claim-bogus-says-thestreetcom

http://www.torquenews.com/1075/bob-lutz-defends-volt-calls-republicans-be-truthful
http://www.torquenews.com/1075/bob-lutz-says-volt-bashing-right-wingers-harming-american-workers

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jdh2550_1
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Re: Debunking ridiculous myths about the Chevy Volt

Hi David,

Is that posted on a well read blog with a large following? If not, then it's just the ramblings of a fool. If it is on a well read blog with wide readership then it's worth worrying about - otherwise any fool can put up any website...

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Remember: " 'lectric for local. diesel for distance" - JTH, Amp Bros || "No Gas. No Worries." - JDH, CuMoCo || "Make Volts Not War" - anon.

reikiman
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Re: Debunking ridiculous myths about the Chevy Volt

I don't know if it's posted on a well-read blog. It's a post that came up in my news search, which includes blog post searching. However I've seen similar blog posts by others, and even posts in what are supposed to be reputable news organizations, also posting similar lies and hype.

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- David Herron, Green Transportation Examiner, Green Transportation Info, The Long Tail Pipe, Electric Race News, davidherron.com, 7gen.com, What is Reiki
- Charger bike (rebuilt), Electrified Electra Townie, 1971 Karmann Ghia

MikeB
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Re: Debunking ridiculous myths about the Chevy Volt

The right-wing attacks against the Volt are fully mainstream. It's more than just blogs too, it's all over rightwing radio and propoganda outlets. It's apparently coming from Limbaugh, O'Reilly, Krauthammer, and Huckabee, to mention a few big names.

Bob Lutz has been trying to defend the Volt, but had pretty much given up. Facts just don't matter to these people.
http://green.autoblog.com/2012/03/20/bob-lutz-gives-up-trying-to-convince-the-right-theyre-wrong-abo/

"I am, sadly, coming to the conclusion that all the icons of conservatism are deliberately not telling the truth!"

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jdh2550_1
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Re: Debunking ridiculous myths about the Chevy Volt

Wow, because I never listen to any of those pundits, I wasn't really aware that the mainstream were still hammering the Volt. It is extremely ironic that an arch financial conservative and global warming skeptic such as Bob Lutz is pitted against the "loony right" as he calls them. There are some pretty neat quotes from here: http://green.autoblog.com/2012/03/13/bob-lutz-continues-his-chevy-volt-defense-offensive/

It is amazing that the right-wing would choose an American automobile as a villain. I suppose it all stems from the fact that the auto bailout occurred (and was in pretty much any measure you care to make way more successful than the bank bailout). Even with that - it's both petty and dangerous for the right-wing loons to go after such an iconic American company. Hey, perhaps it's time for a SuperPAC "Make Volts not War" and have GM fund it to the tune of a billion or so...

;-)

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John H. Founder of Current Motor Company - opinions on this site belong to me; not to my employer
Remember: " 'lectric for local. diesel for distance" - JTH, Amp Bros || "No Gas. No Worries." - JDH, CuMoCo || "Make Volts Not War" - anon.

reikiman
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Re: Debunking ridiculous myths about the Chevy Volt

I wrote up my own take on Lutz' latest here:- http://www.torquenews.com/1075/bob-lutz-disappointed-krauthammer-and-other-chevy-volt-bashers

GM's CEO Dan Akerson gave a very interesting interview about the Volt and the Auto Industry Bailout a couple weeks ago. My writeup:- http://www.torquenews.com/1075/gms-akerson-talks-about-auto-industry-bailout-and-140-mile-range-volt ... and you can see the video here:- http://www.c-span.org/Events/GM-Chairman-Talks-Bailout-Gas-Prices-New-Car-Technology-and-More/10737428998/

His point was to go over what the cost would have been. Over a million lost jobs, and a huge crater in the middle of the U.S. Industrial Base. The recession would have become an all-out depression.

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PJD
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Re: Debunking ridiculous myths about the Chevy Volt

John and dave,

The attacks against the Volt are weird. So, they don't like this particular slightly innovative car model? Why attack it? Do they also attack with such passion everything else they don't like - say, Indian cooking, chocolate ice cream or, say, Philip Glass's musical compositions? The attacks seem to be more of the sort of "extremist ideology by proxy" that is becoming common on the right. They attack the Volt because to accept that it may have utility would require them to revise their belief system-of-denial regarding depleting world oil supplies and climate change.

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