But, she added, “the problem is that there is a tremendous amount of perceived risk about the [electric] Volt and Leaf. Hybrids have never been a big part of the market, even though we have more available in the showrooms than ever before,” she said. “It’s because consumers say, ‘It doesn’t make economic sense for me to get a hybrid when I can get the car that I want with a 6-cylinder engine that doesn’t put the battery at risk.’”
The fortunes of the U.S. auto sales market could very well play into the presidential campaign narrative this fall, with President Obama increasingly taking credit for continuing the industry rescue started by President George W. Bush and reminding audiences on campaign stops of GOP rival Mitt Romney’s strong opposition to the plan at the time. Just last week, economic analysts said jobless claims in the latest reporting period were more positive in large part because of summer hiring plans by the automakers and their suppliers.
How the issue plays on the national scene is another question.
Mr. De Lorenzo said the issue may continue to inflame Midwestern voters, but may not garner much traction elsewhere. He said he is uncertain how the politics of the auto industry may play across the presidential election cycle.
“You get out of the Midwest, and it’s amazing how little people care about Detroit’s auto business and anything to do with it and how adamant they are that there shouldn’t have been a bailout,” he said. “Let’s not forget who really put this saving of the domestic auto manufacturers in motion. That was George Bush in the last two months of his presidency. Once the Obama administration got in there, they realized how serious it was and why Bush did what he did.”