Volt Dealers Accused of Tricking Consumers, Gaming Federal EV Program
A former Saturn dealer turned auto pundit is accusing some Chevy dealers of gaming the federal plug-in vehicle incentive program and passing on the hidden costs and legal liability to consumers. In a post on the website of the National Legal and Policy Center (which is a right-leaning watchdog group,) Mark Modica charged Saturday that dealers across the country have been purchasing their allotment of Chevy Volts and then re-selling them on the used car market at full price. The alleged practice makes purchasers ineligible for the $7,500 federal electric vehicle tax credits—and allows dealers to pocket the difference.
Explained Modica in an interview with Fox News this weekend:
“They are titling the vehicles, one dealership buying them from another, taking that $7,500 tax credit that they are allowed, and then reselling them at MSRP. They are not reducing the price. They are looking to game the system.”
In the listings Modica points to there is indeed no clear effort on the part of the accused dealers (which surprisingly enough include a string of Kia dealerships,) to communicate to consumers that buying a Volt used makes them ineligible for the $7,500 credit. The practice has the potential to confuse some buyers into filing false tax returns, only to learn later that they've actually paid $7,500 more than they thought for a Chevy Volt .
While several of his charges are plainly supported by public listings on used car websites, it should be noted that Modica has written and spoken out extensively in opposition to the Obama administration's policies with regard to the auto industry. And as former Saturn dealer and disgruntled GM bondholder, Modica has also chosen to draw certain conclusions that may not be fully supported by the anecdotal evidence he collected online and over the phone.
But regardless of his slant, the apparent practice Modica points to is a mockery of what the federal electric vehicle incentives were intended to do—which was create a groundwork for mainstream EV and PHEV adoption by putting plug-ins within the reach of more people—and it needs to be stopped.
Carmakers and dealers have claimed in the past that whatever plug-in price gouging exists is inevitable, but is that really true? Could some legislative remedy possibly be found to prevent dealer abuse of federal tax law? Given the attempts that are already in place to reform the credits in other ways, it's something that should at least be looked at.
In the meantime, if you're looking to pay $52,884 for a used Chevy Volt, Raymond Chevrolet of Antioch, Illinois, may have just the deal for you.
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