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The Volt's not a Vega

May 19, 2009 - Paul Giannamore

I was angry this morning when I saw one of the TV wags actually pull up pictures of the Chevy Vega and the Ford Pinto when doing a story on the potential impact of President Obama's proposed increase in Corporate Average Fuel Economy to 35.5 MPG by 2016.

News flash, ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX and CNN. Those cars were on the market nearly 40 years ago.

A lot has happened in Detroit in 40 years.

For one thing, the auto companies were dragged, kicking and screaming, into corporate fuel economy averages that increased into the late 1980s. The Vega and Pinto weren't responses, by the way, to CAFE rules. They were supposed to fight the imports, the popular original VW Beetle, and a variety of Japanese cars, including the Toyota Corolla, the Honda Civic and the Datsun (Nissan) 510,.

For another, can anyone, anywhere, disagree that what's built by Detroit's automakers today is WAY BETTER than what we drove in the 1970s? I posit to you that we'd still be driving 20-foot-long Buick Electras and 16-foot long "compacts" like the Plymouth Valiant if the government hadn't stepped in and said "enough." Indeed, the popularity of the goofy SUV craze tells us that people, left to their own devices, will buy what they don't need and guzzle FOREIGN PRODUCED oil at alarming rates because it's their right to do so, or so they say. Tell that to soldiers and their families who have died because we need to mess around in the MIddle East because of oil.

The Volt will be too expensive. But it will not be a Vega, not by a long shot. The Detroit Free Press pronounces its powertrain, tested in a Chevy Cruze body (which, by the way, will be produced at Lordstown, employing Ohioans and generating better fuel economy than the current Cobalt), and pronounced it a winner.

Remember, it's average fuel economy. So, every Volt means another Camaro can be built. Auto enthusiasm hasn't been outlawed.


Regardless, it's unfair to compare the disastrous subcompacts of 40 years ago to what might be coming down the line soon from the Big 3.

Give 'em a chance.



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Blog Photos

Chevy Vega From the "How Stuff Works" Web site.