After General Motors announced on Monday that it will kill the Chevy Volt as part of an effort to streamline its lineup, close five factories, and lay off 15 percent of its workers, President Trump took to Twitter to vow retaliation for the damage the layoffs could do to the U.S. economy.
"The U.S. saved General Motors, and this is the THANKS we get!" he tweeted. "We are now looking at cutting all @GM subsidies, ...including for electric cars."
....for electric cars. General Motors made a big China bet years ago when they built plants there (and in Mexico) - don’t think that bet is going to pay off. I am here to protect America’s Workers!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 27, 2018
Ironically, the tweet comes just as tax credits for GM's plug-in cars are set to wind down, since it reached the statutory threshold of 200,000 plug-in cars sold, while several of the company's competitors still have years of the credit left.
The $7,500 federal tax credit amounts to a significant discount of about 20 percent on a $35,000 Chevrolet Volt and its loss is likely to put GM's plug-in cars at a disadvantage.
After each automaker has sold 200,000 cars eligible for the credit, its credits wind down for a year, then are eliminated. GM announced in October that it is likely to reach that 200,000-vehicle threshold by the end of the year.
With its credits already set to expire, eliminating them wouldn't hurt GM as much as it might other automakers still counting on receiving the credits for years to come. The company has said that tariffs on steel and cars imported from China have put pressure on its bottom line.
In reality, GM's move follows similar efforts by Chrysler and Ford to eliminate slow-selling sedans and to concentrate on more popular and profitable SUVs and crossover vehicles.
GM has emphasized several times in the past that the Voltec powertrain from the Volt will live on beyond the compact hatchback. The current Volt was scheduled to reach the end of its model life in 2020 was expected to be replaced by a small crossover utility vehicle (perhaps similar to the Buick Velite 6 that GM introduced in China and perhaps under the CrossVolt name that GM trademarked a few years ago.)
While it's unclear whether that vehicle is still in the revised product plan and the current Volt appears to be dying a year prematurely, it seems unlikely GM would abandon its PHEV technology entirely.