General Motors and Audi have been involved in an amusing "exchange of views" following Audi of America's boss Johan de Nysschen's categorizing of the forthcoming Chevrolet Volt as “a car for idiots.”
Speaking to American journalist Lawrence Ulrich, de Nysschen said that expects few customers will be prepared to pay the asking price for the Volt, which will also go on sale in Europe as the Vauxhall or Opel Ampera.
"No one is going to pay a $15,000 premium for a car that competes with a (Toyota) Corolla,” said de Nysschen. "So there are not enough idiots who will buy it."
In response, GM spokesman Rob Peterson said the company was surprised de Nysschen had chosen to insult fellow car enthusiasts.
GM was “very surprised Mr. de Nysschen was so quick to insult the intelligence of electric vehicle and Volt enthusiasts,” he said. “Not so surprised that Audi is taking a bold stance given their entrenched diesel position. EVs will reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and tailpipe emissions – if that's being 'hoodwinked by our government' then count me in.”
De Nysschen has moved to "clarify" his stance via Audi USA's Facebook page. In the post, he highlighted the economic argument against purchasing GM's plug-in hybrid family car, but chose not to comment further on the kind of person who might buy one.
“The 50 percent or so price increase that the Volt represents over a similar gasoline car cannot be offset through the savings from reduced fuel consumption,” he said.
The Audi boss also acknowledged that his own company is exploring electric power, such as the R8 ePerformance car that is expected to appear at this month's Frankfurt motor show.
“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."
De Nysschen also apologised if he had been "unclear" about the fact that he isn't opposed to electric vehicles, and said he didn't remember specifically saying the Volt is a car "idiots."