Chevy Volts And Gun Racks: A Right-Winger's Perspective

2012 Chevrolet Volt

2012 Chevrolet Volt

Enlarge Photo

Now that the recent hoopla concerning gun racks in the Chevy Volt has had a few days to die down, I’ve got a confession to make.

I’m a Republican, and I love the Chevy Volt.

I’m also level-headed enough to separate my politics from my passions.

In regards to automobiles, I’ve spent the last 30 years driving everything I could get my hands on. I’ve spent a fair amount of time wrenching on things with two or four wheels as well.

The Volt range-extended electric car, in my opinion, represents one of the most significant automobiles of the past 100 years.

More than “just a hybrid” as some have described it, the Volt is an entirely new class of vehicle, one that can run on electric power for short trips or on gasoline for extended ones.

You can hop in a Volt and drive from New York to Detroit, stopping only for gas. I know this, because I’ve done it.

You can go days or weeks without using a single drop of gas, and I know this from experience, too.

The Volt isn’t perfect and it’s not for everyone. If you have a 100-mile-per-day commute, there are probably more cost-effective, conventional hybrid options. If you never need to take long trips, the all-electric Nissan Leaf may indeed be more cost-effective.

2012 Chevrolet Volt

2012 Chevrolet Volt

Enlarge Photo

In the real world, though, my wife's and my daily commuting needs would easily be met by the Volt--using electric power only. When we needed to travel cross-state or cross-country, the Volt would be up to that task, too.

Therein lies the beauty of the Volt: it’s green, but it’s also flexible. It’s neither the most fuel-efficient gasoline powered vehicle, nor the longest-range electric.

On the other hand, it blends these two worlds better than anything else on the market.

When I’m wearing my firearms instructor hat, my job is education.

On a one-to-one basis, it’s easy to reach students and correct misconceptions and half truths. Working with them at a shooting range, I can easily chart their progress and point out why proper understanding of fundamentals is so important.

When I’m wearing my journalist hat, my job becomes much more difficult because I’m not interacting with readers on a face to face basis. Worse, many have preconceived notions and aren’t even willing to consider other perspectives.

The Volt is just one example of how this country has become needlessly polarized in recent years. As a Republican, the media says I should hate it, but as an open-minded gear head, I recognize its significance.

I’ll even admit to enjoying my time behind the wheel when they hit my driveway in press-fleet rotation.

Perhaps if more of us kept an open mind we could go back to engaging in intelligent discussion instead of merely swapping sound-bites from the lunatic fringe on either side.

Yes, I’m a Republican, but I’m also a Volt fan.

Call me crazy, but I suspect I’m not the only one.


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Comments (39)
  1. My name is Brian I'm a right wing recovering EV hater too. Just as soon as I get my Electric Fluence ZE in Israel I'll pick up a hitchhiking soldier with an M16 (preferably one of the bad ass looking ones with grenade launcher attached) and photograph it on the car. Will that work for ya?

  2. You reason and you love the Volt then you must be the 90s Republican which, by definition, makes you look like an extreme communist today and you're not part of the current freak show, so good try, Kurt...

  3. Yes, there's no room for reason these days................Lol !!!

  4. @Red Baron, in that case, "Da, comrade..."

  5. Oh, oh and please don't drop the "extreme fringe on either side" baloney... The "liberal extremists" today make Bob Dole look really bad.

  6. @Kurt, very well said. The Volt is a very important new kind of car and we should not let the leadership of political parties tell us how we should feel about individual issues.

    Personally, I consider myself an environmentalist, but often find sympathies for the "drill baby drill" thinking. After all, what is wrong with both pushing for EVs and drilling for oil at home?

  7. What's wrong with drilling or using up 100 years worth of coal, gas and oil is the fact that it's only 100 years worth of stuff (less for oil of course)... Oil used for plastics or many other forms of transporation is essential and should be treasured and preserved as much as possible. People worry about having their kids pay back worthless loans from China that we can eventually easily default on (everyone does it and hapilly lives on) but they don't give a damn about using up and preserving the resources that truly count...

  8. Following either party blindly is extremely dangerous. Red, go test drive a Volt and form your own opinion. Comments based on fact are much better.

  9. I didn't say anything about the Volt there - did I? I have the LEAF and the major reason why I wouldn't get the Chevy is the lack of the fifth seat but, other than that, it's a great car.

  10. Ok fair enough I stand corrected. And now I have a better understanding of where your coming from, I've test driven the Volt and my only complaint was the back seat separation, so I agree with you on that.

  11. Kurt, are you the one who taught Chaney how to shoot? I think the Volt, which is an extended range gas vehicle - not the other way around, would be fantastic if GM would put a 150 mile range battery in it and a stronger plug that wouldn't melt from using a super charge charger.

  12. @James, if I did, he'd hit the target...

    Let's say for the sake of argument that GM did put a 150 mile battery pack in the Volt. Who'd pay for the huge price increase? If Chevy is having a hard time selling Volts at $40k, they'd have even more difficulty at $100k, regardless of the range.

    While the Volt isn't the ultimate answer to everyone's needs, it is an important first step that's (unfortunately) being swept beneath a carpet of political rhetoric.

  13. the volt IS an extended range EV. Even when the gas motor is on, it is only generating electricity (unless you put it mountain mode and it finds your driving up a steep enough incline to make engaging the gas engine to the trans worth while - which i have never been able to make it do).... if they put a 150 mile range battery in it, it would be too large to fit and it would easily 4x the cost of the battery.... 80% of all people drive less then 40 miles a day which is why GM choose that as the EV range...

    Also, the plug is standardized by ASTM so the volt's melt..... i have a 120 and 240 plug and both work fine....

  14. Excellent article Kurt, there are a lot of people out there that could learn something from this. I think the lesson here is that poeple need to make more time to form their own opinion. And if you have no interest in something like the Volt, why take either side there's nothing wrong with remaining neutral on something that doesn't affect you.

  15. @CDspeed - thanks for the kind words.

  16. Kurt, how dare you try to be reasonable in our hyper-polarized country. Enjoyed your comments, as I always do.

  17. @robok2, thanks much.

  18. Being a hard-core right-winger and being of the opinion that the Chevrolet Volt is an outstanding car is entirely consistent. The Volt was developed starting in 2006 and the production version of the car was unveiled in September 2008, a development led by Bob Lutz. It's simply a great car, and that has nothing to do with any politics, left or right. 99% of people who don't like the Volt have never driven it, and 93% of people who have driven it love the Volt. More details here:

  19. You're not hard core either since any hard core person knows that bailing out Government Motors was a bad idea, didn't save any jobs and the company should have gone bankrupt and end up in Chinese hands. That's why Volt is bad bad car and I piss on it... /s

  20. no, it would not be in chinese hands, they would have leveraged the bankrupcy to redo union contracts like ford (still better then what the govt did for them)... but that has nothing to do with the volt

  21. What good would it have done to loose our biggest automaker to china? And if you didn't notice the bailout worked GM payed back the loan and has become profitable again. Bill Maher is right about republicans living in a bubble, have you test driven a Volt, no, then what the heck do you know and why are you here?

  22. Jesus Christ, CDspeed... You're a square head with no sense of humor :-) It was sarcasm all the way but that's how the freaks down here in GA and other parts of the South think (or not)!

  23. Ok ok once again my bad, GA huh I live further south than you.

  24. when i was car shoping I needed something with good MPG to help offset the cost... I drove every car on the market with over 35mpg for the most part, when I sat in the Volt, I realized it wasnt a high mpg, it was a NICE car, that also got good gas milleage, everyone I take for a ride usually agrees......

  25. When Steven Colbert interviewed Bob Lutz about the Volt, SC asked if he could recharge the Volt's battery from the 110v socket in his Hummer. Best of both worlds.
    Even if you view a product through a strictly political filter, it's really hard to argue against EV, extended-range or hybrid vehicles. The left love them for the environment the right love cutting the dependency on foreign oil from questionable regimes. Given that many different models are built in the USA, there's support for high-value jobs too.

  26. "Call me crazy, but I suspect I'm not the only one."

    What's wrong with being crazy? :)

  27. There's nothing political about a Chevy Volt, unless a cutting-edge-built-in-America-car is a political statement. I now have just over 4,000 miles on my Volt and I love everything about it. Pulling out of a parking garage in Orlando last night, a guy in a big Mercedes stopped me and quizzed me about the car. It told him that since I bought the car, I've spent exactly $10 on gasoline. I added that much when the 'fuel low' warning light came on. The car is quiet, quick off the line, and handles and rides well. The build quality is excellent. As gas prices ratchet up, expect to see more Volts on the road. The price may be a little steep for some...until you factor in the $7,500 tax credit.

  28. I'm a registered Republican and have voted for both Republicans and Democrats in the past. I have voted Republican more than Democrat though, and by a good margin. I'm an electric car driver and supporter and I'm disgusted with how the republican party is disparaging electric vehicles and trying to somehow make them bad for America.
    I Know I'm not alone because I have lots of friends that are republicans and they are equally as mystified at how the party can take this anti-American, anti-energy independence stance. The ONLY plausible reason is because they are being paid to do so and that the anonymous donor Super-Pacs are being funded by the oil industry and are dictating policy. This issue has cost them my vote and many others.

  29. That's how far the party has gone and on most of the issues - GM and Volt issues are the least of their concerns. Those people are moving us back to the dark ages. Again, all of you Republicans of yesterday should be in line with today's liberals. It's Obama who's cutting taxes, killing terrorists, fighting and finishing wars, loosening gun laws, saving jobs and sending illegals back. Just thinking about Santorum and the likes of that POS makes me want to throw up (yes, I googled his name.)

  30. @Red Baron, sorry, but operation "Fast and Furious" doesn't count for loosening gun laws...

  31. That doesn't count but he silently allowed many states to expand gun laws (concealed weapons all over the place now, multiple purchases a month instead of just one, etc.), not closing loopholes as promised, signing bills to allow guns to be carried in national parks and in luggage on Amtrak. The list goes on. The dude need to get credit where it's due :-)

  32. Kurt, Just wanted to say that this was one of the most level headed articles I've seen lately on the Volt. Well said on all accounts! Wish more fellow Republicans could acknowledge the Volt for the many things it does well, as you have.

  33. I feel the same about my Volt #1506. My Volt's birthday is 2/28/12 in just a few days. Still the best car I have ever owned. I will post my numbers when it's birthday gets here. The big oil money machine is what keep the Volt in the mud. After all the politicians invest in big oil and get plenty of money from big oil for their political campaigns. Big oil will go down kicking and screaming. They will pay and pay and pay to keep from going downhill. If you own a Volt like we do you know the difference. They will take a long time to know because their political careers depend on them not knowing what we know. This is the finest car ever made.

    Take Care, TED

  34. Thank you, and to others here for sharing your feedback on the Volt. I may be a major fan (and not just of the Volt, of course) but the amount of disinformation and/or plain ignorance is just numbing, so real world comments do help. No, they won't convince the true haters, but it might for those who just don't know what to believe.

    I can't root for higher gas prices given the mediocre economy and the impact to the poorest, but it would help here, of course.

  35. OK, I'm all for this, however, I'm torn by the financial aspects: I can buy a Honda Fit (or like car) for $18K (about $300/month, financed for 5 yrs.), get 32mpg, drive around 17000 miles per year (around 570 gallons, @ $5 per gallon is $2850/yr. or addl $240 per month total: $540. Or, finance a $33000 Volt (rebates included) for 5 years at $596 per month. Not to mention I can perform most of the maintenance on the Honda. Again, I think it would be awesome to not have to pump 10 gallons in the tank every few days, but it's better than having to find an outlet outside where I park, and also spend $75 more per week on my car loan.

  36. I thought you might find this article of interest, given your knowledge of all types of cars: "The Official Car of The The Republican Party": ... the answer may surprise you :)

  37. @Anton, my hat's off to you, sir. An excellent article indeed, well-researched and well-written. I expect you'll get a fair amount of feedback from those with a differing opinion, as I can almost hear the sound of heads exploding from where I sit.

  38. It sure was painful for me to be a conservative and listen to the Senate Committee investigating NHTSA's handling of the Volt. One Republican says "How dare you sir allow this car to be in the public's hands." I would have replied "You mean the 5 star safety rated one that I already said I'd put my family in?" Another says ".........and there was orange fluid coming out of it!" I would have replied "Ya lady, it's called coolant. Did you know coolant was flammable?"

  39. Nice review on the Chevy Volt. I am a Democrat, we may have a different political views but I think we may be in common with the Chevy Volt.

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