President Obama was in Detroit on Friday to promote the Chevy Volt electric car, which is fantastically overpriced and offers underwhelming performance. This is the latest example of government burning billions on green ideas that don't pay off.
At $41,000, Government Motors' new model is only an economy car for limousine liberals. To try to hoodwink the masses, the federal government - GM's overlord, which owns 61 percent of the company - is offering a hefty $7,500 tax credit per electric vehicle. The sticker for this appliance on wheels would be even higher were it not for layers of direct government subsidies for Volt development, including $240 million from the Energy Department last year and $150 million to a South Korean company that makes the car's batteries. On top of that is the $50 billion government bailout for a bankrupt GM and a $14 billion loan in 2008 to retool the company's manufacturing facilities.
Despite federal largesse, the Volt won't help environmentalists reach Nirvana. The hunk of junk only has a range of 40 miles a day (at best), and it's charged up by plugging it into a wall outlet, which in most places is powered by coal plants. A more practical ride for mileage maniacs is the new Fiesta by profitable crosstown rival Ford Motor Co. Its four-cylinder gasoline engine gets 40 miles per gallon, can drive all day and only costs 14 grand. For the price of a Volt, a family could put a Fiesta and a Mustang in the driveway. Lesson: Government needs to get out of the car business.
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