Obama Motors?

Rush Limbaugh, popular radio personality and thought leader for the U.S. Republican party, weighed in on electric vehicles.  Here are some quotes from the transcripts of a recent Rush Limbaugh talk show:

  • "Everybody's all excited today, the Chevy Volt has announced a price at 41 grand.  However, you can get it for less -- there's a $7500 tax credit which means that Obama and the government are admitting that nobody wants this, nobody wants it."
  • "Why don't you try this, Mr. Obama, and the rest of you at Obama Motors, just put it out there at 41 grand and let the market decide."
  • "I'm not going to recommend people go buy an electric car that gets 40 miles to a charge. It takes three to four hours to charge the thing, 40 miles to the charge.  And then there's a backup gas tank that gives you 375 miles."
  • "The charging station is your house, so that 40-mile range has gotta include you getting home and then staying home for three to four hours to charge the thing.  It's 20-mile range.  So I'm saying to myself, I can't in good conscience recommend that."
  • "Now look what it costs you liberals, 30 to 41 grand to show you're superior, that you care more than the rest of us."
  • Then Mr. Limbaugh weighed in on the smart grid with this, "We get these smart grids and these smart thermostats where the authorities -- I'm seeing that word more and more in the media, the authorities, the authorities can regulate the thermostat in your house."

I can't 'refudiate' all of Limbaugh's claims today -- most of them speak for themselves -- but I'll address the "Obama Motors" dig: 

The U.S. Treasury owns 61 percent of GM, 56.3 percent of auto finance firm Ally Financial, and a 10 percent stake in Chrysler.  It was President George W. Bush who agreed to a $17.4 billion bailout of GM and Chrysler in 2008 as part of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) program. President Barack Obama then loaned $45 billion to the ailing firms in 2009 and put them in government-sponsored bankruptcy proceedings.  So, the proper term would be Bush-Obama Motors.  And the alternative was to watch those firms potentially perish and force their employees to look for work in a collapsed economy.

From Politico: "White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said the Volt is representative of the automotive industry’s revival. 'It's a car and manufacturing process and a product that not that long ago people believed wasn't going to be built in this country,' he said. 'The car and the batteries, because of some of the decisions the president made, are going to be manufactured in America.'

GM spokesman Greg Martin said that the company was focused on repaying the taxpayers.  Martin said, 'The best way to ensure the taxpayers are repaid is for General Motors to succeed. Treating GM like a political punching bag hurts our ability to compete and hurts the thousands of families who depend on a successful GM and, ultimately the American taxpayer.'"

As for the "20-mile range" comment and the "the authorities can regulate the thermostat in your house" remark, well, that's just ignorance of the facts.

The Chevy Volt is General Motors’ first battery-powered electric vehicle.  It's a gas-electric hybrid that can travel 40 miles on a battery charge and it has a gasoline-powered engine that can power the vehicle for another 340 miles. As Michael Kanellos reported, the Volt hybrid EV contains a 16 kilowatt-hour battery pack and a small gas engine that recharges the battery while driving. The battery is the most expensive component of an electric car.

General Motors said that the Volt will sell for $41,000 before federal tax credits of $7,500 and any state tax credits. The total credits can run up to $12,500, which would bring the price down to below $29,000. 

Incidentally, the Nissan Leaf is an all-electric BEV and starts at $32,780 before tax incentives. After incentives, the Leaf will cost close to $20,000.  Both Nissan and General Motors will offer similar warranties: eight years and 100,000 miles and both companies will release their cars later this year.  You can lease the Volt for about $350 per month according to The Detroit Free Press.