GM Volt is for Idiots, Says Audi Boss

Saturday 05 September 2009, 00:00 AM by Satish Kalepu

The first impression of the comment made by Audi America president Johan de Nysschen raised eyebrows all over the world. "No one is going to pay a $15,000 (Rs 7 lakhs) premium for a car that competes with a (Toyota) Corolla,” said De Nysschen. "So there are not enough idiots who will buy it."

De Nysschen was speaking to to veteran American journalist Lawrence Ulrich when he commented that there will be few customers who will be willing to pay estimated $40,000 (Rs 18 lakhs) asking price for the Volt. The Volt goes on sale in Europe as the Vauxhall or Opel Ampera.

Later, De Nysschen decided to play down his comment via Audi’s Facebook page. “Let me clearly state that in my opinion, electric vehicles will be part of the future transportation of society – but only if we go about it the right way. In fact, Audi is working on electric vehicles," he said. He also stated that he does not specifically remembers saying “Volt is a car for idiots.” He apologized for not being clear about the fact that he is not opposed to electric vehicles.

He nuanced his statement further, explaining that the 50% premium that the Volt commands over equivalent gasoline cars, is too high for anyone to buy. Hence, the car must be subsidized which may not may economic sense.

What do you think? Should governments subsidize new fuel technologies in order to stimulate innovation and protect the environment?