In some respects, though, the Volt is an even more potent political symbol for Republicans because of its links to the Obama administration – both through the controversial bailout that saved Chevrolet and ultimately gave rise to the Volt, as well as the $10,000-per-car subsidy that President Obama's new budget proposes.
“The Volt has been a lightning rod even before we got into the heat of the campaign season,” says Bill Visnic, senior analyst with Edmunds.com. For detractors, it objectified “why the bailout was wrong,” because it produced a vehicle that “mostly rich people buy and is mostly subsidized by the government.”
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.