It doesn’t take a scientist to figure out that the 2011 Chevrolet Volt is in high demand right now--despite its May sales numbers, which are behind those of the 2011 Nissan Leaf.
But despite General Motors’ planned increase in production, buying the plug-in hybrid is a little more complicated than walking into your local Chevrolet dealer with a fat checkbook.
So when a story broke earlier this week accusing Chevrolet dealers of buying and titling new Volts, claiming the $7,500 tax rebate and then selling them on to customers and other garages as ‘used’ cars, some news outlets went into overdrive.
Everyone from Chevrolet to the Obama administration was accused of exaggerating the Volt’s true sales figures.
Unfortunately however, the website breaking the story was The National Legal and Policy Center, an entity with a political agenda that is funded in part by right-wing political activist Richard Mellon Scaife.
And as Jalopnik’s Justin Hyde points out, politically-motivated funding rarely leads to unbiased, fair reporting.
So what really is going on?
2011 Chevrolet Volt Z-Spec
We’re still waiting for an official response from General Motors, but we’re able to offer some comments on the situation as it stands.
As Hyde argues, if the Volt sales figures were truly as low as suggested by various right-wing news outlets, dealers who had cashed in on the $7,500 tax rebate would be desperately trying to sell those cars through any means possible, including massive price reductions.
And yet, all of the ‘used’ cars cited in the original NLPC article are selling for near the full sticker price.
This suggests that even if unscrupulous behavior were taking place, customers are so willing to buy a Volt that they will pay a premium to jump any waiting lists and get behind the wheel. That hardly seems the definition of a sales flop.
2011 Chevrolet Volt with hood open, showing range extender engine and Voltec drive
Finally, regardless of the truth of the allegations, the story does prove that the federal tax credit for plug-in vehicles can be taken advantage of.
As such, modifications to its terms and conditions--perhaps requiring a VIN to be specified?--may be required to ensure that dealers cannot cash in on any tax credits.
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