Electric Cars: Square peg, round hole
The big story of 2023 just might be the clash between those who have imposed electric vehicle mandates and those for whom an electric vehicle is not on their shopping list.
The federal government, many state governments, and much of the automobile industry – and their counterparts worldwide – have decreed that the world abandon the internal combustion engine in favor of the (often-coal-fired) electric vehicle.
Mandates for banning new sales of conventional vehicles are as plentiful as schemes to disallow further production of “evil” fossil fuels that brought a total transformation of the world economy in little more than a century. Moreover, most automakers have pledged to end production of conventional vehicles within the next few years.
While sales of EVs “boomed” last year, the 6 million EVs still comprise less than half a percent of the world’s 1.4 billion vehicles. Yet Bloomberg New Energy Finance claims that by 2040 a third of all vehicles on the road will be EVs, and EVs will account for 58 percent of global passenger vehicle sales.
From 6 million to 500 million in 17 years? Or will the total number of vehicles shrink dramatically as fewer people either want or can afford a personal vehicle?
Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares put it, “What is clear is that electrification is a technology chosen by politicians, not by industry.” Policymakers, realizing that a vast majority have yet to embrace EVs, have turned to coercion to force people out of the vehicles they have relied upon for over a century. Some are even gleeful that the result will be far fewer vehicles on the road.
Reports from the United Kingdom provide a few clues as to why people’s skepticism is warranted. For starters, EV charging stations are often unreliable. An analysis of public charging data by LeaseLoco found that 43 percent of chargers at major supermarket sites had connection issues or were completely out of order – meaning no charge at all or a longer wait to charge.
And about those charging times? Does it always take five days to fully charge the new GMC Hummer EV? The entire U.S. “network” of EV chargers (especially those “fast” chargers that enable you to eat lunch at the convenience store that once was a gasoline station) today can only accommodate a very small percentage of the nation’s 280 million vehicles.
And that’s when there IS available electricity! California and the EU have already proven that a massive switch to EVs will ensure the regularity of power blackouts. In cold weather, a dead EV battery may not even take a charge. Just another byproduct of central planning that fails to take into consideration every variable.
And forget about saving money down the road despite the higher initial cost of the EV. The AA in the UK reports that new peak pricing at EV charging stations can leave consumers worse off than if they had kept their gasoline vehicle. That’s hardly an incentive to purchase an EV that in Europe is 27 percent more expensive than a gasoline-powered vehicle.
In the U.S., just as in Europe, the less reliable the electric grid, the higher the price of electricity that governments and billionaires want to force you to use to go anywhere. Worldwide, people are waking up to the burdensome costs of the super-regulatory state.
Then there is the materials issue. As Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe explained last April, “Put very simply, all the world’s cell production combined represents well under 10 percent of what we will need in 10 years [to fulfill EV mandates]– meaning 90 to 95 percent of the supply chain does not exist.”
Then there is the geopolitics issue. Nearly all of the lithium required for today’s EV batteries is processed in China, and China is using its dominance to roll out EVs with much lower sticker prices than American, European, Japanese, and Korean automakers can match. Increased dependence on China could lead to subservience far beyond what exists (though largely hidden from public view) today.
The bleak prospect of working around Chinese dominance took another hit recently with the collapse of Britishvolt – before the heavily subsidized startup ever built a single EV battery. Investors who a year ago thought the company was worth a billion dollars now face a fire sale (to an Indonesian company) that might get back 13 cents per dollar invested.
The Telegraph summarizes this embarrassing moment in British history as the result of adopting a “cart before the horse” approach – trying to stimulate demand by creating supply. Another way of saying trying to pound a square peg into a round hole.
What’s the solution to these top-down mandates for a pie-in-the-sky “solution” to the imagined crisis posed by the continued use of gasoline and diesel fuel? Wyoming lawmakers are taking the hard-line approach – banning the sale of EVs in the state by 2035.
State lawmakers who proposed the ban cited the lack of supply of critical minerals, the high cost of EV battery disposal to in-state landfills, the need to protect the state’s profitable oil and gas industry, and the impracticality of EVs in Wyoming’s sparsely populated territory as reasons to fight back against nationwide EV mandates.
Maybe it’s the mountain air. Maybe it’s self-preservation. Whatever the reason for this rare display of wisdom, it is high time for more states to “have what Wyoming’s having” and fight back against the elites whose plans for the future do not include our continued prosperity.
Will we listen to the good people of tiny Wyoming? Or will we laugh them off as kooks as the World Economic Forum crowd steps up its timetable for when “we will own nothing?”
Duggan Flanakin is the Director of Policy Research at the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow. A former Senior Fellow with the Texas Public Policy Foundation, Mr. Flanakin authored definitive works on the creation of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and on environmental education in Texas. A brief history of his multifaceted career appears in his book, “Infinite Galaxies: Poems from the Dugout.”