The Cost of Green Transportation


MSNBC today did a story on the new Chevy Volt, GM’s all electric car, due out at the end of the year.  It’s a short bit about how much one of these gems will go for. 

$41,000.  If you subtract the federal tax credit of $7,500, that leaves $33,500.  For a tiny car powered by so called “green” technology. 

I’ve ranted before about the “green” movement in America, powered by demands from the Obama administration to reduce our dependence on foreign oil by reducing our dependence on all oil.  This little tidbit of info takes the cake. 

My parents paid $41,500 for their house in 1979.  It is all electric, but that’s where the similarities between their house and the Volt end. 

For instance, if my folks’ house is side-swiped by a big rig, everyone in the house is not guaranteed to die.  If the house were impacted head on, well, you don’t need to be genius to figure out that if the impact didn’t get you, the diesel fire would. 

More than three average sized adults can sit comfortably in my parents’ home, which is good since both my brothers currently live there.  The Volt has been given good marks for layout and comfort, but that’s all relative.  Compared to a Suburban, I’m sure the Volt is like being locked up in a sardine can with the key thrown away. 

My folks’ house does not qualify for the $7,500 tax credit. 

You can’t get a decent bowl of gumbo from a Chevy Volt. 

It would take three Volt’s for all the people who live in my parents’ house to go anywhere.  Five adults and three kids.  It would be a little tight in a Volt. 

The big difference is that someone may actually WANT to buy my parents’ house someday.  I’m banking on this because I don’t want to be left holding the bag when they die.   But the public’s desire for a fuel efficient car can be described shortly and sweetly:  nearly non-existent. 

Toyota has been selling the Prius for a decade, losing money on the vehicle most of the time.  Honda’s hybird was short lived and was put to death by the Prius. 

Now that we know how much a Volt will cost, we will be asking “Who will want to buy one of these things?” 

The Eco-Nazis will say “It will pay for itself in seventeen minutes on fuel savings alone!”  Don’t think so.  You still have to charge the batteries, and unless you can get McDonald’s to let you use one of their outlets, you’ll have to pay more on your light bill. 

The maintenance and repair cost for one of these things will certainly be more expensive than a standard car.  And repairing a standard car these days, if you can’t do it yourself, is ridiculous.  Six hundred bucks to replace a (evil fossil) fuel pump.  Wow.  Also, what do you do with the batteries when they are no longer serviceable?  I’m sure they are recyclable, but there will be cost for this, I’m sure, and some may end up in landfills. 

Then, there’s the human cost.  The only way to make one of these vehicles more fuel efficient is to make them lighter.  Make them out of materials that aren’t as tough, or make them out of expensive space-age materials like carbon fiber, that are as tough.  So, you end up with a car that is more easily damaged in a collision, and the people are more ravaged by the collision than they would be in a bigger, heavier car.  It’s been proven time and again by data which supports the idea that every time fuel economy standards go up, so do highway deaths. 

I am all for fuel efficiency in cars.  But a car company should make cars people want.  That’s the idea of business, right?  To create a product or service people want or need and are willing to pay a price for.   Not to create a product that the company knows no one really wants and then get government subsidies to supplant losses on sales suffered due to the free market speaking in the form of the money if the public’s wallet.  When there is a demand for fuel efficient cars like the Volt, companies will make them. 

Oh, and by the way, you can get a bottom line Corvette for about $38,000.  I’m just saying.

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