Attacks Abate From The Right On Volt & Electric Cars

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2012 Chevrolet Volt

2012 Chevrolet Volt

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A funny thing happened around the politics of electric cars.

The screaming stopped.

We've waited almost two months to write about it, but it would appear that the chorus of right-wing attacks on electric cars--including the Chevrolet Volt--has mysteriously and quite suddenly abated.

In late March, there was the remarkable Fox News segment in which the reviled Chevy Volt was transformed into an energy security hero.

Then in mid-April, Bill O'Reilly said "we like that" about a profusion of electric cars.

At the same time, Motor Trend writer Todd Lassa highlighted counterattacks from the right on behalf of the Volt against the misstatements of Rush Limbaugh, Neil Cavuto, Eric Bolling, and other Fox News contributors.

Among the proponents were former GM product czar Bob Lutz, himself a conservative, who met with right-wing organizations in Washington to argue the Volt's merits.

Abating in April

Lassa suggested that attacks on the Volt might die down after the presidential election in November.

But in fact they had stopped altogether by then, and the ceasefire continued throughout May.

We haven't seen or heard of a single outrageously false or biased major piece on electric cars since about April Fool's Day. (If you have, let us know in the Comments below.)

Instead, some coverage now actually addresses the Volt on its merits.

Mr. Foster drives a Volt

In mid-May, Daniel Foster, a writer for conservative magazine National Review, described the week he spent test-driving a Volt.

Fox News commentary on Chevy Volt (screen capture), March 2012

Fox News commentary on Chevy Volt (screen capture), March 2012

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His article, Ask Me About Your Volt, mixed praise for the car ("plenty slick, in its way," an "impressive piece of technology and a lot of fun to drive") with a long description of being unable to use a public charging station without the right membership card.

That's a common problem that needs to be sorted out, for sure. Charging network reliability could use some improvement too.

His article closes with a reminder that the American taxpayer bailed out and still owns part of General Motors. He calls the Volt,

...a talking point, a floundering mascot of a political worldview according to which markets can be bribed and cajoled into making premature and uneconomic decisions, innovation can be centrally planned, and the future runs on the good intentions of the present’s policymaking class.

Compared to the factually wrong segments and articles of the past year, that counts as progress.

Stronger sales, safety established

In late April, we asked Rob Peterson, GM's longtime Volt spokesperson, whether the critiques seemed to have ended.

Neil Cavuto Targets Chevrolet Volt Owner Eric Rotbard

Neil Cavuto Targets Chevrolet Volt Owner Eric Rotbard

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"It's fair to say that Fox's coverage has been much more fair and balanced of late," he told us. "With stronger sales and concerns over vehicle safety dwindling, there's definitely less oxygen available to sensationalize Volt news."

He credited the change to "highly enthusiastic and vocal owners, electric-car proponents, and hawks like Bob Lutz" for keeping critics honest.

But, Peterson said, "the Volt remains a magnet for controversy, [so] continuing to get solid results will be key to avoiding another tempest in a teapot."

Ad dollars at risk?

Media sources suggest that perhaps business trumped ideology: Did GM have a quiet chat with the sales folks at right-wing media outlets--in which it spends many millions of ad dollars--to suggest that its spending might not be guaranteed?

If that's the case, we'll likely never know quite what happened--or how.

On the other hand, perhaps the subject just grew stale, with viewer and reader outrage shifting to new and fresher targets.

Right-wing readers 'don't care'

A colleague at one such outlet remarked sadly that electric-car stories had apparently hit a brick wall with readers: "They don't even hate them enough to care."

Regardless of the reason, we're very glad that perhaps now electric cars can be debated on their merits, and criticized based on actual study data rather than unfounded assertions and biases.

What do you think? Is this just a hiatus, or have electric cars moved out of the targets of their most vehement and fact-free critics?

Leave us your thoughts in the Comments below.


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Comments (20)
  1. "They don't even hate them enough to care."

    So, sufficient hate is how right wing media decides what to give airtime? Pathetic.

  2. Of course, because hate means intensity about a subject, so the readers will tune in, and advertising revenue will go up. And, since the Republicans screwed up the election again, and the Dems won, the Reps went back to the strategy of hating whatever is suggested, vs. actually suggesting alternatives. So, the right continues to hate, as they have nothing to love.

  3. The very definition to being a true Rush Limbaugh type conservative is to have a closed mind. They are the modern day equivelents of the same people who 100+ years ago said "if man was meant to fly he have wings", Or the buggy whip manufactures who said that "there will always be a demand for their products". After they are shown to look like fools the talking conservative heads will usually quiet up. That's why I so enjoyed seeing our fellow EV supporter Eric Rotbard turn the tables on that fool Neil Cuvato. I believe that kudos should be given to Eric for giving such a good and logical interview about his Chevy Volt that ended up turning the table on Neil Cuvato's ignorant statements which made Cuvato oput to be the Faux New's fool.

  4. The attacks aren't over just yet. Here's something from a so-called expert with the American Enterprise Institute carried by McClatchy-Tribune News Service. People also somehow forget how military-funded research has driven technology without much consideration how tax money pays for that.
    Huge subsidies give American taxpayers high-voltage shocks

  5. Of course the howling has stopped. The FUD was successfully dispensed, plug-ins are no longer cool, sales didn't take off. Mission accomplished, time to make sure to be on the right side of history and being able to say: look we said a lot of nice things about plug-ins, it was the consumer who didn't want any of it.

  6. That's were a non traditional manufacture like Tesla can do it. They are marketing the car to the luxury sport sedan market. No one is going to say well your EV version is twice as expensive as the Ford Focus gas version and only has a 76 mile range. If Tesla can sell the luxury/styling and performance along with its decent milage range I feel they can do it dispite what big oil may have to say. (no such thing) A large scale gasoline price drop however will make an EV such as the Model S less palatable to the early adopters however even though they can easily afford gasoline at the $57,000 base price for the 160 mile range version. Remember poor people do not buy EV's. Rich people do and they like a sexy stylish car with good performance.

  7. Chris O has a good point. Big Oil, the master of the Republicans has declared "Mission Accomplished". No use in beating a dead horse. Next, they will promote natural gas powered cars...

  8. Big Oil's mission has failed!

  9. The lies about electric cars certainly don't all originate from non-EV enthusiasts. Some (perhaps even most) EV enthusiasts have their own set of blatant lies, mostly about the EV's economics : they avoid any mention of battery replacement costs, thereby producing nonsensical economic arguments about the merits of driving electric. They would make excellent used car salesmen.

  10. I don't know which lies regarding battery replacement you are talking about? As far as I know, the battery is supposed to last about 10 years. Much longer than the average person owns a car. So, battery replacement aside they are much cheaper to run than gasoline cars.

  11. Let me help you out here yet again, Kent. My Volt lease is $381/month for a loaded Volt (leather, GPS) and I save about $160 in fuel, but pay about $24 more in electrcity. That's an overall cost of $245 a month. Still too expensive for you?

    Please look up the word warranty some day. It will answer your neverending intentional confusion on the battery replacement costs. Warrantied for ten years means zero in replacement costs for most drivers. Can you add "zero" to your non-existent comparison now for battery costs?

    They're competitive now for many people. Kent, let's get real, is $245 a month too much for Volt?

  12. But then after ten years you have a car that will be worthless, because it will need batteries? But I guess if you lease it, it doesn't matter.

    How many miles are you allocated a year? What kind of down payment?

  13. Battery life is a big variable, cycle depth, temperature, vibration,,,,
    when the prius first came out people said the batteries were only good for 5 years, but the real life has proven to be closer to 10.

    Chevy only warranties the battery to a minimum but it may well exceed that, lets see.

  14. There are more comments in this thread
  15. I think the Volt shortage in California speaks for itself...

  16. Looking for recent #Volt criticism? How about,,,,,,

    Please, enjoy.

  17. Who the heck is BreitBart anyway? I read some of the article on that silly site. It seems it is a right wing nut job sites that post a bunch of "commentary" from idiots...

  18. I like to think that maybe they realized how stupid they made themselves look.

  19. Current comparisons and critisisums of the electric car to current Gas models is akin to comparing apples and oranges. They are better compared to the model A or Model T. As for battery replacement??? Not to many gas powered vehicles have a 10 year replacement warranty on the motor's and they have had 100+ years of innovation to work on it.

  20. It is amazing to me that we have only had gasoline cars for about 100 years, and everyone acts like we have had these sacred vehicles for millenia!!! We had horses forever, and look how fast we replaced them with cars!!!

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