Mark Holthoff writes at Edmunds.com:
One of the last sounds Dave Muse probably expected to hear as he drove his Chevrolet Volt past the massive crowd at the Woodward Avenue Dream Cruise in Detroit was the sound of people booing. But there were indeed catcalls for his car, although it was Detroit-built and one of the most technically advanced and highly acclaimed vehicles ever to come from that city.
To be sure, there were also plenty of cheers for the Volt from the crowd, which annually numbers more than 1 million. But the undercurrent of condemnation was clear.
It was clearer still for Muse when a stranger approached him in a parking lot, “complaining loudly about my choice of transportation,” he says. As Muse attempted to exit the Volt, the stranger pushed his car door closed, forcing him back into the driver seat, and then stormed off.
During a polarizing election year, the plug-in hybrid Chevrolet Volt has become an unexpected focal point, touted by supporters of President Obama as a shining symbol of a resurgent American auto industry and a model choice for climate-conscious drivers. At the same time, it’s been painted by right-wing pundits as an icon of big government excesses, a sentiment that officially entered the presidential race when Republican candidate Herman Cain proclaimed the car “Obama’s baby” and alleged the President is “subsidizing the sale of every Volt to the tune of $7,500 in taxpayer money.” The right-leaning Drudge Report recently highlighted an Edmunds/Inside Line news story on the Volt’s involvement in a Texas “smart home” project as an example of wasteful government spending. The story drew more than 200 comments, many of them politically charged.
Volt owners like Muse are finding themselves caught in such crossfire. Some have reported acts of vandalism — tires slashed, expletives on the windshield — and one even found himself being intentionally run off the road. General Motors spokesperson Michelle Malcho says she is not familiar with these stories, but notes that “the car isn’t political” and urges people to drive one before making strong judgments against it.
Read more here.