If you've been revolted by the fact that every $40,000 electric Chevy Volt sold by Government Motors enjoys a $7,500 rebate at the expense of taxpayers, then better have some Dramamine before you read any further. James Hohman of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy has calculated that the total subsidies—direct and indirect, federal and state—poured into this white elephant could add up to $3 billion or $250,000 for every Volt sold to date. And this is not counting the 26 percent ownership that Uncle Sam still has in the company.
Explains the Michigan Capitol Confidential, a Mackinac publication:
The Volt subsidies flow through multiple companies involved in production. The analysis includes adding up the amount of government subsidies via tax credits and direct funding for not only General Motors, but other companies supplying parts for the vehicle. For example, the Department of Energy awarded a $105.9 million grant to the GM Brownstown plant that assembles the batteries. The company was also awarded approximately $106 million for its Hamtramck assembly plant in state credits to retain jobs. The company that supplies the Volt's batteries, Compact Power, was awarded up to $100 million in refundable battery credits (combination tax breaks and cash subsidies). These are among many of the subsidies and tax credits for the vehicle.
It's unlikely that all the companies involved in Volt production will ever receive all the $3 billion in incentives, Hohman said, because many of them are linked to meeting various employment and other milestones. But the analysis looks at the total value that has been offered to the Volt in different aspects of production – from the assembly line to the dealerships to the battery manufacturers. Some tax credits and subsidies are offered for periods up to 20 years, though most have a much shorter time frame.
GM has estimated they've sold 6,000 Volts so far. That would mean each of the 6,000 Volts sold would be subsidized between $50,000 and $250,000, depending on how many government subsidy milestones are realized.
If battery manufacturers awarded incentives to produce batteries the Volt may use are included in the analysis, the potential government subsidy per Volt increases to $256,824. For example, A123 Systems has received extensive state and federal support, and bid to be a supplier to the Volt, but the deal instead went to Compact Power. The $256,824 figure includes adding up the subsidies to both companies.
Of course, the subsidy per vehicle will decrease as more Volts are sold. But if you think that taxpayers will ever recover their full "investment," then I have some stock in the Trabant that I want to sell you.