Chevrolet's hybrid electric car, the Volt.
Chevrolet's hybrid electric car, the Volt. Drive

Obama vows to buy Volt

AS Chevrolet Volt production stops for five weeks because of slow sales, at least one high profile person has come out in support of the struggling plug-in hybrid electric car - due on sale in Australia at the end of this year priced from $60,000.

US president Barack Obama last week told 1600 factory workers: "Five years from now when I'm not president anymore, I'll buy one and drive it myself."

In July 2010 president Obama drove the Volt barely a few metres on the production line during a publicity event at the Detroit factory that makes the car - he said his security staff wouldn't let him drive it any further.

"Secret Service wouldn't let me drive it. But I liked sitting in it. It was nice. I'll bet it drives real good," he said.

According to the Detroit Free Press, Obama previously owned a Chrysler 300C, a Jeep Grand Cherokee and a Ford Escape hybrid. The Volt could be his first GM car.

The newspaper reported Obama learned to drive in his grandfather's Ford Granada and once owned a Fiat (which perhaps helped motivate his push to get Fiat and Chrysler to merge two years ago).

Customarily, Obama is driven in a specially-modified Cadillac presidential limousine on official business (which is so large it got stuck on a steep driveway on a visit to Ireland last year) and is said to have an armoured Chevrolet Suburban at his disposal on weekends to travel incognito.

Obama's comments about the Volt join his other recent comments defending his decision to bailout General Motors and Chrysler in 2009. The US government still owns about a quarter of GM stock.

There's no word on whether or not president Obama would pay full price for his Volt. But on the basis that he and his office are part owners of GM, perhaps he would qualify for a staff discount.

GM didn't take the bait. Company spokesman Greg Martin told the Detroit Free Press: "If the president is still interested in buying a Volt upon leaving office, we recommend a test drive of more than 10 feet."