Bush Senior Buys a Chevy Volt

Who would have thought it? Given the flak the Chevy Volt has received at Republican hands over the last few months, former Republican president George H. W. Bush dealt the Volt attackers a serious blow, deciding to purchase one of GM’s extended range electric cars.

The Volt, which has become a symbol of all that’s wrong with the Obama administration according to some conservatives, might finally be getting a break. In addition to Bush Sr.’s purchase of a Volt (for his son Neil), there’s growing sentiment among the right that the car might not be that bad after all.

Fred Barnes, writing in the conservatively inclined Weekly Standard, showed sympathy for the Volt, saying it “is not an Obamamobile,” a view that’s been widely held by many Republicans. In perhaps an even more surprising turn, Fox News, the notorious Volt basher, is also apparently changing it’s tune. Lee Spieckerman, CEO of Spieckerman Media and a conservative himself, said during a recent interview on the network that the “Volt is the quickest and most efficient way to bring American fossil fuels like coal, natural gas and nuclear energy to American automobiles. It is a terrific car, it is the iPhone of the automobiles. I’ve driven it and it’s very impressive.”

Volt sales remain sluggish despite GM introducing a zero percent incentive this month, so this change is probably welcome news, though Spieckerman did say that in order for it to truly be successful in the market, the price of the Volt needs to be reduced by about 20 percent, in order to give it a fighting chance against the likes of machines like the Chevy Cruze.

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  • MrEnergyCzar

    Fox might be realizing the Volt and similar cars is what people want with high gas prices and American made cars/jobs…

    MrEnergyCzar

  • ModerateConservative

    Let me be honest, i think it is hard to change or to adjust to change for a lot of conservatives, but i am starting to see a good change of pace for Fox News and conservatives alike. To be honest i think people should atleast give electric cars a try, i know i will.

  • Van

    The problem with the Volt is it costs too much, thus GM brought a great concept, plug-in hybrid, to market at too high a price. Now why does the Volt cost too much. For sure a component is the R&D cost, and another component is the high cost per KWh of the first generation lithium batteries. But to overlook the GM failures, i.e. producing less than competitive cars, that had to be highly discounted to sell as a component of the Volt’s price would be inaccurate.

    Look at it this way, the Prius PHV will cost about $32,000 with about 10 KWh capacity, but the Volt will cost about $42,000 with about 16 KWh of battery capacity. The Prius PHV costs about $7000 more than the regular Prius, so if we use $700 per KWh to explain it, then the Volt should only cost about $4200 more than the Volt.

    So the problem at GM continues, you pay a lot more than you should to offset legacy costs. Or so it seems to me.

  • Van

    Which is not to disagree that Rush is out to lunch on the viability of plug-in hybrids. Next March we will have the Toyota PHV and the Ford Fusion beauty to compare with the Volt. I expect the market will say yes to the Volt concept, but continue to say not to GM’s product by flocking to Ford and Toyota plug-in hybrid cars. Time will tell.

  • Capt. Concernicus

    Gotta love the Fox flip-flop and the story twists they do to make liberals seem bad.

    Considering the Volt started out under the watch of Lutz and during the Bush admin., Fox continually bashed Obama and current admin. for it. Twist the facts much Fox News?

    And does the Chevy Cruze really cost at least $32,000? Just wondering because they say the Volt needs to come down in price by 20% to give it a fighting chance against the Cruze. I mean for $32,000 I’m going to get a bigger, better, more fuel efficient vehicle like the Toyota Camry hybrid for which the Cruze doesn’t even come close to competing against. As well as the Ford Fusion hybrid.

    So again we see that Fox News is way out of touch when it comes to reality and that you can’t really trust anything they report on. So just do the opposite of everything they say and you’ll be just fine.

  • Franko

    Mr.Van

    Please make an effort into your research before spitting out all sorts of nonsense about the Prius plug-in.

    First of all it is not 10kw/h in the Prius, it is 4.4kw/h. Volt with it’s 16kw/h battery does 40 miles while the Prius does 11 miles.

    Maybe that’s why the VOLT cost more?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toyota_Prius_Plug-in_Hybrid

  • Stan Smart

    I’m a conservative Republican and a Fox News watcher. I’m on my 3rd hybrid car. This is NOT a liberal vs. conservative issue.

    I’m amused by the narrow-mindedness of the above posts (liberals?) who accuse conservatives of having closed mindes!

  • Chas

    I agree with Stan. Let’s keep energy independence out of the political punching bag. Our country fails to do what it needs to when we politicize important issues.

  • jay

    It appears to me is that you just wont face facts. You speak of the price$41000 before rebate.
    Yet, you dont have a problem with BMW,Lexus and Mercedes that cost even more ?
    Like to the tune of $5000 to $10000 more?
    As well as $400 per month (gas) x 12 months = $4800 in gasoline alone!
    $4800 x 3 years =$14400 in savings
    I own a Volt and have traveled 1700 miles and I am still on the same tank of gas that the dealer suppliied!
    Add that up!
    Make sure that you are not so caught up in the political rhetoric that you become blinded by real cost savings.
    By the way George W Bush just purchased his son Neil a 2012 Volt!

  • Gerrardo

    I agree with Stan. Fiscal conservatives love hybrid cars. The media demonizes fiscal conservatives because they don’t believe in bailouts. What the heck does that have to do with hybrid cars? The Volt is a great car, but it is over-priced and that’s a fact.

  • kwes77

    Fact?

    http://gm-volt.com/2011/08/29/could-a-chevrolet-volt-cost-less-to-own-than-a-chevrolet-cruze/

    http://news.topwirenews.com/2012/04/01/chevy-volt-emerges-with-best-total-value-in-strategic-vision-study/%25

    Fox/conservatives are flip flopping on the Volt because they saw how it debuted in europe with over 7000 reorders and they realized they couldn’t kill it. If the Volt takes off world wide and boosts Detroit, Fox/conservatives would look like the idiots they are.

    Think about it, the first time you saw a conservative on Fox saying the truth about the Volt was pretty much the same day sales figures were released in europe.

  • Van

    Hi Franko, I stand corrected, the Prius PHV battery pack is listed at 4.4 KWh, not 10. But let me revise my statement, the PHV costs about $32,000 with a 15 (not 11) mile range – 15% more than the prototype. Now the Volt claimed a 40 mile range, but the EPA lists it at 35. So it still adds up to paying an extra $10,000 for 20 miles of EV range.

    But lets wait for the car to be tested by CR and then compare the report with the report on the Volt. If the Volt price can be justified by its superior performance, fine. But I stand by my expectation that the Prius PHV and the Ford Fusion plug-in will provide more value for the price. Time will tell.

  • Van

    Hi Jay, lets say someone drives 12,000 miles a year and gets 20 miles to the gallon. That works out to burning 600 gallons a year. Now if the gallon costs $4.50 per gallon, then the annual fuel cost would be $2700.

    Now if I drive 30 miles per day, i.e. all Volt EV miles, then I could rack up close to 11,000 EV miles in a year. So it would be hard to make a case for fuel savings even under the best conditions of more than $2500 per year. But OTOH, if you consider a Prius PHV, its fuel cost would be be (12000 minus 5000 EV miles) 7000 divided by 50 times $4.50 or about $600 per year. So at best the Volt could save you $600 over 12 months and $1800 over 3 years. But the Volt would cost at least $5000 more out the door considering a $5000 rebate reducing the $10,000 dollar additional cost. So after three years you will still be better off with a Prius PHV.

  • CharlesF

    @Van, the Toyota web site has the PIP at 11 mile EV range, not 15:
    http://www.toyota.com/prius-plug-in/specs.html

    The PIP costs $32,760 – $2,667 (tax rebate) for a total of: $30,093 plus tax.

    The Volt costs $40,845 – $7,500 (tax rebate) for a total of: $33,345 plus tax.

    So the difference between the Volt and PIP is: $3,252. Lets say you drive 30 miles each weekday (7,600 miles) and 42 each weekend day (4,368 miles) for a total of 11,968 miles per year. The Volt would use just under 20 gallons per year. The PIP would use about 160 gallons. So at $4.00/gallon the PIP would cost $560 a year more in gas. So payback would be in 5.8 years. Gas would have to be $5.80 for payback to be four years. I keep cars a long time. My current car is at almost 168K miles. I did a detailed comparison for my driving and I would save 175 gallons/year with the Volt. So for me the Volt would save a few bucks with payback in about 4.6 years.

    In conclusion, the Volt and PIP are both excellent ways to save gas. With the exception of pure EVs, they are the two best cars at this time for saving fuel. Your driving habits will determine which is the best for you. If you do a lot of long distance driving the PIP will be best for you. If you do mostly < 45 mile days, the Volt would be best. The crossover point is about 103 miles per day, if you do not care about the payback time.
    PIP: (103 miles-11 mile all EV)/50 MPG = 1.84 gallons
    Volt: (103 miles-35 mile all EV)/35 MPG = 1.84 gallons

    The Volt does do one thing the PIP does not, and that is it has a true all EV range.

  • Jayz

    Yo Franko,

    10, 4.4, tometo, tomato whatever, the volt is never going to take off. Even if it were priced below a prius PHV I still wouldn’t buy it.

    My reasons:
    1. Have had GMs before and they all broke down, things went horribly wrong
    2. I would not buy a 1st gen hybrid from anybody. But then thats just me
    3. Volt is not priced correctly so benefits are marginal or non-existent for an average user
    4. I don’t really have spare dollars to rescue a failing company

  • Van

    Hi CharlesF, I completely agree with your driving pattern analysis. Good post.

    But to nit pick some points, the Prius PHV MSRP is $32,000. Its EV range is up to 15 miles. These claims come from both a “build your own Toyota sales site, (price) and from our Hybrid Car article on the Prius PHV:
    http://www.hybridcars.com/vehicle/toyota-prius-plug.html
    Now prices vary over time so a range of prices and ranges can be found. For example, the $32,000 base Prius PHV has heated seats and a Audio system with NAV. But to get heated seats and a NAV system on the Volt, the price is $43,880, not the $39,995 MSRP base, found on the build your own Volt website.

    As I said, after the Toyota Prius PHV actually shows up in showrooms and CR does an evaluation, we can revisit this issue. And once the Ford Fusion plug-in joins the fray in March 2013, we will have sufficient data to make a choice.

  • CharlesF

    I added the destination charges for both the PIP and Volt. That accounts for the difference from lowest MSRP for both cars.

  • Conservative Volt Lover

    Van: I imagine part of the reason the Prius will be cheaper is that the Plug-in Prius is just a Prius with a bigger battery and a bigger electric motor. They already have economies of scale working for them.

    But there really is no comparison between the Volt and the Prius as far as I’m concerned. The Prius will still start the engine during modest acceleration (meaning almost always). And the Volt will blow the Prius away in acceleration. I got tired of the shimying of the Prius as it started and stopped the engine (maybe new plug-in Prius won’t shimy as much). None of that with the Volt. Plus the Volt is sexy – at least it is to me.

  • Johnny

    George H. W. Bush

  • Johnny

    I love both cars but they are not comparable. The Volt drives and feels far superior – drive it and compare to a Prius.