Those of us who do not believe that the electrification of the automobile should be a left/right partisan issue were delighted to read Bob Lutz’s editorial, “Chevy Volt And The Wrong-Headed Right,” which appeared Monday on Forbes.com. The endless fun that the Fox News/AM radio Axis of Ideotainment has been having with the so-called “Chevrolet Volt fires” has attracted Lutz’s “attention and ire.”
Of course, it’s hardly surprising to see the father of the Volt defending his baby, but it’s good to see that the more sober conservative press can now discuss EVs in a rational manner (neither “hippies” nor “golf carts” were mentioned in the article). Forbes’ editorial voice is solidly on the right – they love Big Oil, deny climate change, and oppose government support for any fuel that doesn’t come from a well or a mine. However, they are relentlessly pro-business, and they aren’t afraid to depart from conservative orthodoxy if there’s a buck to be made.
Lutz begins his article by setting out a few facts: No Volt, or any other factory-produced EV, has ever caught fire in normal use or in an accident. 278,000 gas cars catch fire in the US in a typical year (not counting the ones in movies). The NHTSA awarded the Volt its highest crash-safety rating of five stars.
Lutz then describes some of the wilder flights of fancy that such right-wing ruminants as Rush Limbaugh, Lou Dobbs and Bill O’Reilly have indulged in. Lutz, a conservative Republican who has no truck with “left-wing climate-change alarmists,” nonetheless calls out the passionate pundits for their “deliberate misstatement of facts,” and asks why the conservative media “feels it’s OK to spread false information, OK to damage the reputation of perhaps the finest piece of mechanical technology our country has produced since the space shuttle, OK to hurt an iconic American company that is roaring back to global pre-eminence, OK to hurt American employment in Hamtramck, Mich., as long as it damages the Obama administration’s reputation?”
Fortunately, Mr Lutz, most of us don’t consider the likes of Limbaugh and O’Reilly to be journalists. Limbaugh is, by his own admission, an entertainer, and his act is a simple one. He says the most outrageously far-to-the-right thing that pops into his head at a given moment, then sits back and enjoys the resulting apoplectic reactions from liberals. And in this case, from at least one influential conservative.