Electric Vehicles: Do You Believe in Magic?

Member Group : Jerry Shenk

Among the things left-liberals commonly ignore in pursuit of their policy preferences are the three that argue most persuasively against them: history, human nature and math.

Although they also disregard history and human nature, more importantly in the case of electric vehicles (EVs), the left ignores math – and physics.

Accordingly, President(ish) Joe Biden’s insistence that, “The future of the auto industry is electric,” is ridiculous.

EVs are not new. Historically, electric vehicles appeared early at the dawn of the automotive age, but lost out to gasoline-powered internal combustion engines. Gasoline-powered vehicles were superior a century ago, and they still are, because batteries cannot provide the weight, range and energy advantages of carbon-based fuels.

They still sell, but EVs are primarily a niche market.

Human nature responds to positive incentives, so it’s unsurprising that, in addition to virtue-signaling buyers’ opportunities to claim “environmental heroism,” American EV sales are driven largely by government green subsidies and tax breaks. There is no broad “emerging market” for EVs in the United States without artificial incentives to ease consumer reluctance, boost demand and increase supply.

Buyers are influenced by a $7,500 tax credit incentive for EV purchases in the Biden/congressional Democrats’ $1.2 trillion Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

The IRA influences automakers, too. According to General Motors, the act incentivizes production by subsidizing EV sales margins by $3,500 to $5,500 per vehicle, otherwise, slim margins – or losses – would make manufacturing EVs impractical. Furthermore, currently, the federal government is EV manufacturers’ largest market.

The government does not have its own money. Government confiscates money from taxpayers under penalty of law, and government borrowing and spending above receipts burdens future taxpayers. Every EV manufactured and sold receives unfair benefits from and obligates millions of taxpayers who have no interest in owning EVs.

Human nature responds to negative incentives, too.

EV advocates assume cost reductions and greater driving ranges from significant improvements in battery technology, but battery costs have risen 20 percent since 2021, and, according to physicist Mark Mills (as covered by Powerline’s John Hinderacker), “Batteries leak, and they don’t hold a lot.”

In fact, battery leakage increases in extremely hot and cold temperature conditions.

Mills likes EVs, but adds, “oil begins with a huge advantage: 5,000% more energy…per pound. Electric car batteries weigh 1,000 pounds. Those 1,000 pounds replace just 80 pounds of gasoline […] Engineers are really good at making things better, but they can’t make them better than the laws of physics permit.”

Furthermore, the nation’s electric power grid is already limited. California Governor Gavin Newsom has ordered that, by 2035, all new cars there must be electric. Although the percentage of EVs in California is still relatively small, the state is so concerned about power blackouts that, for the second consecutive summer, officials have asked owners to stop charging EVs, or California may be “forced” to impose rationing.

America’s grid capacity would have to be at least doubled to support Biden’s “future of the auto industry,” but there are no plans to double grid capacity – and no way for wind and solar to replace the grid’s current capacity, much less double it. Furthermore, EV market predictions fail to take into account the skyrocketing cost of electricity being driven by massive – and economically pointless – expenditures on inefficient, intermittent – inadequate – wind and solar energy.

Mills: “Even if you cover the entire continent of the United States with solar panels, you wouldn’t supply half of America’s electricity.” And “Washington Monument-sized wind turbines spread over an area six times greater than the state of New York, …wouldn’t be enough.”

Moreover, inadequate EV charging infrastructure also drives down demand. EV battery range has improved, but batteries cannot power lengthy trips at highway speeds, and recharging them can take hours, even if immediately-available charging stations can be found.

Hinderacker calls EVs “a boondoggle,” stating, “This whole sordid business is hopelessly corrupt, and it is antithetical to America’s economic and strategic interests. Nevertheless, it appears that EV mania will march on until it becomes obvious that the entire project is impossible.”

Magical thinking won’t alter the simple facts of history, human nature, math – and physics.

There’s a place for them, but, if EVs were universally practical and market-competitive, government wouldn’t need to bribe automakers and consumers into producing and purchasing them, nor would taxpayers be forced to fund the bribes.