John McDole is the kind of a guy you want to have as a neighbor.
A software engineer by trade, John is used to finding solutions to problems that leave others scratching their heads.
One such problem was the lack of an available gun rack for the Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric car, a problem recently brought to light by none other than Newt Gingrich.
McDole, a Volt owner and recreational shooter, took that challenge to heart and carefully crafted a gun rack for his Volt from PVC pipe and bicycle hooks.
As the video above demonstrates, it’s functional, if not elegant.
His rebuttal was an overnight sensation on YouTube, and we recently had the opportunity to chat with McDole on the Volt and the politics that surround it.
First, it’s worth pointing out that McDole built the gun rack to spoof Gingrich’s comments, and doesn’t actually use it to haul guns to and from the range. Like any safety-minded shooter, McDole doesn’t keep guns in his car.
We asked him why he chose the Volt over other alternatives, such as a Nissan Leaf or Toyota Prius, and John responded as you might expect an engineer would.
"There was no other car like this in the projected future,” he said, referring to both the Volt's affordability (compared to the $106,000 Fisker Karma) and its cutting-edge series-hybrid drivetrain.
For McDole, the Volt is the perfect car. It gives him more than enough battery range for his 14-mile daily commute, yet allows him the flexibility to take longer trips. He’s owned the car since November, but has only run it on gasoline three times since taking delivery.
We asked John how he counters the argument from critics that “a Prius gets better fuel economy." He was quick to point out that comparing gas mileage misses the point of the Volt altogether, since it assumes you operate the car in generator mode only.
McDole spends a fair amount of time educating others on the car, and he’s had to assure friends and family that no consumer Volts have ever caught fire.
He’s also addressed the myth that the Volt is cramped, since McDole is 6’1” tall and comfortably fits in all four seats.
As for flexibility, McDole has hauled 10-foot lengths of PVC in his Volt, with the hatch closed. Cargo hauling capability is a non-issue, like other arguments detractors have made about the car.
We asked McDole what Chevy might have done differently at launch to increase the car’s appeal, and he agreed that early advertising didn’t give consumers an idea of why the Volt was unique.
He also feels GM’s lackluster reputation for quality in the 1980s and 1990s makes it difficult for the company to charge a premium price, even for unique technology.
On the other hand, McDole was quick to point out that the Volt would probably be selling very well if it had a BMW roundel on the hood instead of a bow-tie on the grille.
As for the politics of the Volt, McDole believes that media organizations with a political agenda effectively “poisoned the well” against the Volt, making sales an uphill battle.
When he gets a comment about “Government Motors,” for example, he knows the writer is responding emotionally and probably won’t want to engage in a productive dialogue.
John ponders why Republicans are attacking an American product built here by an American company instead of supporting it. We certainly weren't able to provide an answer for him.
He believes there are plenty of moderate Republicans out there willing to give the Volt a chance, but their collective voices are drowned out by pundits and talking heads.
As Anton Wahlman points out in his well-crafted editorial, the Volt should be the “official car of the Republican Party”--if only members took the time to examine the facts about the car rather than being sucked under by anti-Volt rhetoric.
As for McDole, he’s got a few follow-up videos planned--mostly to address issues raised by critics.
Given his dry sense of humor, we can’t wait to see them.