GM is learning the same lesson that Joe Hardy learned in the classic Broadway musical, Damn Yankees. When you sell your soul to the devil, what you get back isn't worth a warm bucket of spit. That's GM's bitter lesson with the Volt.
Yep, GM got its bailout, courtesy of hoary Uncle Sam. But what GM had to do for a handful of taxpayer silver was dance to the tune its new federal master wanted. And what Uncle Sam wanted was a deep green car. GM -- or some White House functionary -- chose the name Volt for an overgrown golf cart. GM should also give Volt buyers very big shoe horns to help fit them into the Volt's cozy compartment.
Doubtless to the chagrin of Washington bureaucrats and GM marionettes, Americans ain't buying the Volt. According to Jalopnik.com, GM had set a goal of selling 10,000 Volts this year. (10,000 volts are better suited for an electric chair.) Yet GM has only shipped 3,895 Volts to dealers in 2011. September saw only 723 sales nationwide. Didn't the Ford Edsel sell better?
So, how will GM boost Volt sales to wipe the egg of its DC overlords' faces? How about slashing prices? Nah, won't work. Humongous tax credits for Volt buyers? How about giving Volts to high school juniors and seniors who belly-up to Michelle Obama's school cafeteria salad bars?
The marketplace is a wondrous thing. Solid ideas flourish mostly, while bad ideas like the Volt languish. Consumers for a lot of reasons are revolted by the Volt. Why pay good money for a circus car? Safety might just be a factor, too. Most Americans prefer not risk death in collisions that they might otherwise survive in bigger, sturdier vehicles. (Note that Smart cars are pretty dumb safety choices, too.)
But GM is a heavily owned subsidiary of Washington, DC -- merely the operational arm of those very well intended central planners who want to engineer more than cars; they want to engineer consumer choices and, hence, Americans' lives.
Let's hope the revolt against the Volt makes it a museum piece soon.