Government Motors — er, I mean General Motors — has sold approximately 6,000 Chevy Volts, its plug-in electric/hybrid gas-burner car. Is that good or bad?
Analyzing the various state and federal government subsidies to GM as well as to suppliers of batteries and other parts for the Volt, James Hohman with Michigan’s Mackinac Center for Public Policy estimates that each car sold could cost taxpayers $250,000.
Hohman admits it’s hard to be certain of the precise subsidy level because of various government incentives that may or may not get triggered, but whether $50,000 per car or $250,000, a lot of taxpayer cash has been sunk into a make that still sells for over $30,000 (and usually closer to $40,000). Nor does Hohman’s analysis include a penny of the $50 billion dollars in TARP funds taxpayers put into GM, giving the federal government an ownership stake in the automaker.
Twisting the knife another turn, GM now lobbies state governments for more handouts. Justin Owen, president of the Beacon Center of Tennessee, wrote recently in the Daily Caller: “Rather than retool its business model to become competitive in the free enterprise system, GM turned to . . . another $1.7 billion in taxpayer-funded grants and tax abatements, not from the federal government, but from states across the country.”
When GM built cars without subsidies, it produced jobs and profits and wealth. That’s all good. But having auto companies sell cars at a couple hundred thousand dollar loss per vehicle sorta takes the fun out of it.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.