Chevrolet introduced the Volt in late 2010. Chevrolet's parent company, GM, is one of two Detroit automakers the federal government helped bail out in 2009 to prevent it from falling into bankruptcy. Mr. Obama mentioned GM's recent sales rebound in his State of the Union speech, declaring, “Today, General Motors is back on top.”
The Volt, an electric-gas hybrid that can travel up to 400 miles on a full charge and a full tank of gas, is one of the only two hybrid plug-ins currently on the market, along with the Nissan Leaf. Toyota plans to introduce a plug-in version of the Prius this year.
Chevrolet's data suggest that Volt buyers have an average household income of $170,000. The sticker price for the 2012 Volt is $31,645.
In a case of role reversal, Republicans have said that federal subsidies for cars that appeal mostly to rich people show that Obama is out of touch with ordinary Americans. Obama has repeatedly said that Republicans are out of touch with ordinary Americans because they refuse to consider tax increases on the rich.
Gingrich and many Republican pundits want to end subsidies for the Volt and all electric vehicles. Currently, the federal government provides a subsidy that allows for a $7,500 tax break for buyers of "advanced-technology" cars, including plug-in hybrids. Reports suggest that under Obama's new proposal, that subsidy would increase to $10,000 but could be given solely to the manufacturer – making it an incentive for manufacturers to produce electric cars, though manufacturers could pass those savings onto consumers.
The proposal is part of the administration’s goal of having 1 million advanced-technology vehicles on the roads by 2015.
But Republicans have suggested that the Obama administration might be cutting corners to meet that goal.