In February 2012, then-President Barack Obama promised he’d buy a Chevrolet Volt in five years when he’s out of office and that time is now.
Inquiries to Obama’s representatives so far have gone unanswered whether arrangements to acquire the now-second generation extended-range EV are being made, but the timing is noteworthy at any rate.
And, the statement he made to 1,600 United Auto Workers in Detroit seemed sincere enough.
“Five years from now when I’m not president anymore, I’ll buy one and drive it myself,” said Obama after saying the secret service allowed him to sit in it, but not take it anywhere for obvious reasons. “Yes, that’s right,” he reiterated to the applause of the union workers.
And whether he gets one or not, Obama has otherwise been a supporter of the Volt, and electrified vehicle technology in general.
In fact, since his presidency began in 2008, he’d been on board with an electrified vehicle agenda, citing economic benefits including that the U.S. stood to set the pace and establish a new green industry.
Because of this, he established federal loan and grant programs that were to lead to over $6 billion in government backing for electrified vehicle research, development, and infrastructure. That commitment was over and above $2.4 billion given to automakers, startups, and battery companies.
Some of those ventures like Fisker Automotive and A123 Systems battery makers, as hindsight shows, did not pan out as well as planned, and actually Obama caught heat during the 2012 election season for championing the Volt.
Worse yet for green car supporters, President Trunp is now proposing an end to the U.S. Energy Department’s Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program (ATMVP) and Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E).
The new president’s rationale is the private sector is at this point better positioned to back its own research and commercialize these innovative technologies. And, said Trump of proposals to the 20918 budget, money would be better spent on things like defense – as much as $54 billion is in consideration now.
But whatever the spin on the past and present rhetoric over electrified tech may be, true is the Volt has benefitted from a pro-EV federal boost to consumers and industry. And, to date the Volt remains the most competent in the all-important electric range department among full-range plug-in hybrids.
Originally rated in 2011-12 with 35 miles EV range – which was raised to 38 in 2013, and 53 miles in 2016 – this all-electric drive capacity has yet to be equaled unless one considers the BMW i3 REx, which lacks the Volt’s power and range in range-extended operation.
The Volt however has not sold as well as GM once predicted, although to balance that account, it has sold better and yet does better than other plug-in hybrids.
Really, it’s a back-and forth story of pros and cons, but on the “pro” side, the Volt also gave GM experience and confidence to launch the Bolt EV, and commit to more electrified tech potentially to come.
But with the exiting of Obama from the White House, there has been a change in sensibility however, so whether that would play into the advisability of his buying a Volt – in addition to obvious security risks – is unknown.
And if he doesn’t, it would not be the first time a politician said he’d do something that he did not, but meanwhile it is a matter of record.
Obama said he’d buy a Volt five years from February 2012, and the time of that pledge is now.
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