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Hastily Developed Chevy Volt Not Changing World

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Edward Niedermeyer, editor of the Web site The Truth About Cars, has an interesting Op-Ed in the New York Times today that breaks down how much taxpayer money has been wasted on the not-yet-ready for primetime Chevy Volt.

"Quantifying just how much taxpayer money will have been wasted on the hastily developed Volt is no easy feat," he writes.

Take a look:

--Start with the $50 billion bailout (without which none of this would have been necessary)

--Add $240 million in Energy Department grants doled out to G.M. last summer

--$150 million in federal money to the Volt’s Korean battery supplier

--Up to $1.5 billion in tax breaks for purchasers and other consumer incentives

--Some significant portion of the $14 billion loan G.M. got in 2008 for “retooling” its plants

Niedermeyer continues:

"So the future of General Motors (and the $50 billion taxpayer investment in it) now depends on a vehicle that costs $41,000 but offers the performance and interior space of a $15,000 economy car. The company is moving forward on a second generation of Volts aimed at eliminating the initial model’s considerable shortcomings. (In truth, the first-generation Volt was as good as written off inside G.M., which decided to cut its 2011 production volume to a mere 10,000 units rather than the initial plan for 60,000.) Yet G.M. seemingly has no plan for turning its low-volume “eco-flagship” into a mass-market icon like the Prius.

In the end, making the bailout work — whatever the cost — is the only good reason for buying a Volt. The car is not just an environmental hair shirt (a charge leveled at the Prius early in its existence), it is an act of political self-denial as well."

And with that, I'm headed out to pick up a brand-new GMC Denial, er, Denali.
POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.