Question of the day: Are Chevy dealers pocketing federal rebates? image

The federal government’s $7,500 tax credit—applying to the 2011 Chevrolet Volt, Nissan Leaf, and Tesla Model S—has become a hot topic over the past couple of days. Why?

The National Legal and Policy Center’s Mark Modica made some waves with this piece, contending Chevy dealers are selling the Volt to other dealers as used cars so they can take the $7,500 federal tax credit themselves.

Unfortunately however, the website breaking the story was The National Legal and Policy Center, an entity with a political agenda that is funded in part by right-wing political activist Richard Mellon Scaife.
And as Jalopnik’s Justin Hyde points out, politically-motivated funding rarely leads to unbiased, fair reporting.

Now the question – this is really happening?
Maybe, but not on a large scale. One Kia dealership, possibly involved in the scam with a neighboring Chevrolet dealership, even said initially that a Volt with 30 miles had previously been a rental car.

However, there might be a few cases in which a dealership does actually buy the vehicle, concedes GM spokesperson Michelle Bunker–such as in places outside the seven states where the Volt is currently available. In those cases they “need to be upfront with the customer if they buy it first,” said Bunker.

But why would a customer buy a Chevrolet Volt for which they can’t claim the tax credit? One reason may be early-adopter status and the car’s general scarcity.

Only about 200 Volts are available at dealerships nationwide, and the car is selling so quickly that Peterson jokes, “We don’t sell Volts at the moment — it’s almost like we deliver them.”

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