Chevrolet Volt Marketer Responds To Tesla’s Slight

Elon Musk is a charismatic and creative billionaire who one Car&Driver editorialist says “needs a muzzle,” but Musk has a vision, often says what he believes, and this includes a crack against Chevrolet’s Volt, which he called an “amphibian.”

The CEO of Tesla Motors offered this unflattering portrayal to Bloomberg, and to give fair response time, Bloomberg got Chevrolet Volt Marketing Product Manager Darin Gesse to counter Musk’s view that the Volt is “OK, but not great.”

(We’ll first show you the Musk comment video, then the subsequent clip from Chevy’s marketer so you can see for yourself).

Notwithstanding the fact that the Volt has an overloaded trophy case, including Motor Trend naming GM’s “moon shot” its 2011 Car of the Year award, the Chevy marketer given the task of representing the Volt this week did a less than stellar job in rebutting Musk’s pointed observations.

This view is not our own, but that of several members of the GM-Volt forum who’d hoped to see the impugned dignity of their favorite car defended in a more thoroughgoing manner.

“I miss Bob Lutz … ” wrote the first GM-Volt commentator on Gesse’s response.

“Yeah … He didn’t seem very enthusiastic. He also didn’t answer the question very well of who the Volt is for. He should read this forum more and see some of our polls,” replied another GM-Volt forum member.

“He’s on message but he’s not in the same PT Barnum class as Musk. Plus as you mention he was probably not prepared to answer attacks,” said yet another forum member. “He could have pointed out that Musk wanted to do an EREV but his engineers told him Tesla didn’t have the technology! He might have also pointed out that a $65K premium is a lot to pay for a car that go from San Diego to Phoenix or Tucson! Or he could just have pointed out that GM has sold more Volts than Tesla has sold of all cars combined!”

And on and on goes the dismayed comments at GM-Volt for five pages and counting.

You know Chevrolet did pretty poorly when even dyed-in-the-wool Volt fans collectively shout a proverbial “boo” at the person in charge of defending the Volt.

The second video shows it all, as the rather dispassionate Volt marketer repeats talking points almost as if he’s bored with their message.

He also seems caught off guard and in the end, Bloomberg’s commentator asks him to sell her a Volt, and you can see how he replies.

This said, the Volt – priced Tesla-style with the $7,500 federal tax credit fully deducted – is now at a Prius-level $27,495. For 2014, the “extended-range electric” plug-in was price cut to $34,995. California and other states offer additional incentives, and Chevy dealers may discount the car as well, further reducing the net toward the low 20s.

The Volt is EPA rated at 38 miles electric range, and then a 1.4-liter generator starts seamlessly. As Gesse says, this electric range is enough to meet many people’s average daily driving requirements.

They also do not have to pay for the two-hundred-plus miles of range that may not always be used in a Tesla Model S, so for those who don’t need it, this is a plus.

The Tesla Model S is a superb all-electric car, but it does start at double the Volt’s price, and the comparison is probably only being made now because there are so few players in this new market segment.

Our take: Different strokes for different folks. Both the Model S and Volt offer pros and cons but really, it’s an apple-to-orange comparison for the most part.