Johan de Nysschen, President of Audi USA, recently vocalized what is on everyone’s mind in the OEM automotive world when it comes to the Chevrolet Volt. His basic sentiment that the Volt is an idiotic concept, is widely shared wherever in the world cars are designed , built, and marketed by existing mass producers.
In general, among the marketing executives of the world’s existing OEM automotive industry, the opinion of the Chevrolet Volt “extended range” plug-in hybrid passenger car intended for private use, is that it is a product with only a tiny niche market of wealthy individuals who wish to show that they are green spirited. For them, the Volt would be a “positional good” as defined by the late Fred Hirsch who wrote for London’s Economist, on topics such as the social status imputed to the owners of “positional goods” such as one-of-a-kind paintings or jewels.
The “bet” in Detroit, Stuttgart, Paris, Turin, Tokyo, and Shanghai is that the Volt will never be mass produced.
The real tragedy of such concepts as the cobbled together, increasingly Rube Goldberg-ish, Volt is the waste of precious resources of time and money being drained from the recently impoverished American taxpayers, for what is essentially a badge of honor toy to be owned by those elites for whom money is not a problem, and to be owned for no other purpose than to show adherence to a poorly understood (by them) economic vision of a green world, to be attained without any consequences for their privileged way of life.
There may be one day a transition to electrified transportation as a replacement for transportation, powered by internal combustion engines utilizing fossil fuels directly. Such a transition will not start with the Chevrolet Volt. It is an evolutionary dead end, and notwithstanding the further waste of the scarce resources of money, time, and intellect which the US government will continue to throw at General Motors, its days are probably numbered also.
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