News Story

Uncritical Media, Politicians Once Touted Chevy Volt As Saving Detroit

Stabenow in 2010: ‘Production of the Volt will help strengthen Michigan's clean-energy economy’

With the announcement that General Motors will end production of the Chevy Volt and five other vehicles by the end of 2019, the end has come for the electric car that many in the media and politics once touted as the car that would save Detroit.

Instead, the company expects to close five plants and cut 14,000 jobs, according to The Detroit News.

There were 147,081 Chevy Volts sold in the U.S. from December 2010 through September 2018, according to GMAuthority.com. By contrast, the best selling vehicle in the U.S. in 2017 sold six times more in one year than the Volt's sales over its seven-plus-year period. The Ford F-Series sold  896,764 trucks in 2017, according to U.S. News & World Report. Despite a $7,500 federal tax credit for each Volt purchased, its sales never met the expectations of enthusiastic boosters.

Over the past decade, waves of uncritical positive comments about the Volt’s potential have been heard from politicians and the media. What follows is a sample:

Aug. 15, 2009 (Source: Detroit Free Press)

U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Michigan

“As we put the nation on wheels, we are now going to help wean the nation off oil.”

Jan. 7, 2010 (Source: Reuters)

U.S. Rep. John Dingell, D-Michigan

“We’re going to show these foreigners how you make cars and how you have success.”

April 15, 2010 (Source: Detroit Free Press)

State Rep. Lee Gonzales, D-Flint Township

“A recent independent study led by researchers at Michigan State University found that new low-carbon fuel rules could create more than 11,000 jobs by 2025, while saving money for consumers and adding to the state’s economic output. It’s time for Michigan to become a leader in promoting the new technologies that will fuel the cars of tomorrow and help spur the next automotive revolution. With the right policy, Michigan – and the new Chevy Volt – might just come out on top.”

Nov. 30, 2010 (Source: Stabenow press release)

U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan

“Today’s official launch of GM’s Chevy Volt marks a major milestone in automotive innovation. The Volt not only showcases GM’s successful turnaround, but also highlights the efforts of the hardworking men and women who are making the battery packs, building the engines, and assembling the Volt right here in Michigan. Production of the Volt will help strengthen Michigan’s clean-energy economy, create good-paying jobs, and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.”

Oct. 21, 2011 (Source: Votesmart.org)

U.S. Rep. John Dingell, D-Michigan

“I’m proud to have spent an exciting day with labor and management at GM’s Brownstown plant to experience first-hand the innovative work they do with battery assembly,” said Dingell. “In order to keep good-paying, high-quality jobs right here in the U.S., we must continue our national commitment to promote the domestic production of advanced technology vehicles. Making these vehicles in America is an all-around win, not only for the economy, but also for the environment, for the American auto worker, American families, and American industry.”

April 15, 2012 (Source: MLive)

MLive Columnist Rick Haglund
Headline: “Why Republicans are foolishly fighting the Chevrolet Volt”

“I’ve spotted quite a few Chevrolet Volts on the road over the past year or so, but I can’t recall seeing a single one with a bumper sticker carrying any sort of political message. That makes me think Volt owners are buying them because the cars are highly fuel efficient, technologically advanced or fit the owners’ driving needs.”

Sept. 19, 2012 (Source: Grist.org)

Former Gov. Jennifer Granholm, Democrat
Q. So you see the electrification of the automobile as inevitable?

A. Oh yes. I have a very personal opinion about this because I drive a Volt. It is the best car I have ever driven. I cannot believe that everybody doesn’t want to have one of these. Granted, it’s a luxury car. It is expensive, so mine is a lease car. I don’t spend any money on gasoline. People think they’re like tin cans or something. This is such a beautifully made car. We cannot believe that it has not flown out of the dealer lots. In part, it’s probably because it’s been vilified by the right as a symbol of the auto rescue.