To be fair, and to not make this seem as if I was sitting here since the beginning saying this car would flop, there was a time when I thought it would do very well for GM. However, that was during a different time, and as gas prices go up and down, the people are just not ready to spend the money on a vehicle that may nor may not save them money in the end. We have learned from sales reports that GM sold 723 Volts in the past month, much less then their goals and only totaling about 3,895 shipped off the lot total for the car this year. With company estimates mentioned at 10,000 shipped by the end of the year, this number is extremely low and it shows the people are not ready for a car like this.
While I think it is a very nice car, there are too many questions about it than answers. Are the American people really ready to give up on the other cars in the GM line-up for a car like this that they would have to plug in? Can GM even compete in the market for hybrid vehicles with the likes of Nissan and Honda? These are questions we are getting answers to, slowly but surely. The car maker is just not doing what it takes to sell cars, and with all the money the American people have spent on this company, you would think they could release some cars that the people would really want to buy. This is not the case.
What GM did was bank their future on a car that was, at the very least, a decade away from being a legit sell. The government, no matter how hard the try, cannot rig the market into believing they want something when they really do not want it. This is what has happened in the case of the Volt. With all the talk about the environment and saving energy, the politicians thought there was no way this car could flop. There was a moment that I did not think the car could flop because of the interest that people had in it. Unfortunately GM, as many other car makers have done, put too much money and stake on the hybrid division than they should have. people are still looking for the bigger cars and the trucks, because this is where the most savings are today. Since there was a time when people were not buying these kinds of vehicles, GM and other car companies drastically dropped the prices, making them affordable for the first time in a very long time. The values on these vehicles also went south, with made buying used trucks and even SUV’s manageable for the ordinary American.
That is not to say this is the only reason why people are not buying it. It is unproven, and there is no way to tell if people will actually get the savings after spending the high price tag ($46,000 +, depending on package). At this price, many could think about buying a much nicer, sportier, or even luxury car for them and their family. The odds are the gas mileage would not be as good, but the people are still not thinking about gas mileage first, which puts the Volt at a disadvantage. These kinds of vehicles may have a place in America at some point, but they cannot be forced on people and a company who is banking on one vehicle to save them will lose in the end. This is what we are seeing with GM and why I believe GM will be begging for even more money in very short order. We may even see it happen before the next Presidential election, knowing that if a Republican is put into the White House the chances of more money going to GM is very slim to none. While the government still owns priority stake in the company, the Congress would have to be involved in any kind of stimulus to save the automaker from another walk on the plank.
This brings me to my next, and probably most important, point of this whole situation. Have we not learned by now that the government, no matter how hard they try, cannot be in the business of running a company? Have we not seen enough that those in government, while many might have business experience, have no idea what it takes to make a business more successful? The White House could care less about getting GM back on their feet so the rest of the company could be sold off, what they care about is helping out their union buddies who are working the factories. This is not about and never has been about saving an American institution, this was about making sure that even more people were not laid off and the unions stood behind the President. He needs them if he has any chance of re-election, so he needs to stand by them and do almost anything they ask of him. This has caused an industry to plummet in this nation, and now the old days of being proud of your American car are almost gone because Washington could not leave their hands out of private industry.
These companies do not and never did need government assistance, because there are ways to make sure the company stays afloat while restructuring the company from within. The government did not want GM or any other automaker to file for bankruptcy because they knew what it would mean for the unions. Once in bankruptcy, the unions and the contract would have to be put up for examination, and more than likely the contract would have to be reworked. This would mean those in charge at the company could take a much tougher stance on the union, and they would almost certainly have to make drastic concessions. This is not something you will hear from the President, those in Congress, or even the unions for that matter. They will not tell you the real reason they begged the government to save these auto makers and other industries where the unions have a strong hold. The unions had a hand in creating the mess in the first place, and because they thought more of themselves than the company as a whole, these companies are now in the trouble they are in.
That does not mean there were not other factors, because there were others. But since the unions have become so front and center lately in the fight to save the auto industry, it does beg the question why they did not take concessions when it could have saved the companies in the first place? it is funny to me, in some respects. After all the years of paying out much more than they could ever hope to afford, the car companies and the unions ran to the government to help them stave off the inevitable. The problem is no matter how much money you spend, if the underlying problems are not fixed, the inevitable is still there, just hiding behind a black curtain waiting for the best time to strike. We have not heard the last from the automaker GM and their begging for money, I can almost promise that. It is what we do next as a nation to make sure the right thing happens will be the question!