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You've just gotta believe

27 Mar 2024 | OP ED Watch

The New York Times “Climate Forward” tells us triumphantly that “Biden Administration Issues Rules Aimed at Phasing Out Gas Cars/ The regulations, designed to ensure that most new cars and light trucks are electric or hybrids by 2032, would transform the American auto market.” As in, destroy it. But the enthusiasts are determined to learn the hard way. A perennial conceit of a certain kind of political philosophy is that all you really need is good will and practical difficulties will melt away. And a perennial painful discovery of those who accept such a vision is that they don’t. As indeed the difficulties with EVs are, in fact, rapidly becoming an insurmountable obstacle to this sort of plan.

Not to journalists, apparently. The Times also emailed us a “Breaking News” alert on this regulatory assault that said:

“The U.S. issued rules to ensure that most new cars are electric or hybrids by 2032, the most significant climate regulation in American history.”

In keeping with our cranky view that news should concern what did happen not what might be going to, we think a regulation should not be declared “significant” until it has some measurable impact, let alone “most significant in American history”.

Heatmap Daily isn’t so sure but for the wrong reasons:

“Over the past few weeks, news has trickled out that the Biden administration is weakening these rules compared to what was initially proposed. Does that represent a loss for the climate, or canny moderation ahead of a tough campaign? A desperate attempt to shore up his coalition? Or a little bit of all three?”

They too seem convinced that any regulation that does get promulgated will do what it says and what its architects hope. It’s just that misguided politics might derail the good kind.

Another piece in “Climate Forward”, this time by David Gelles, also expresses concerns about the politics and of course Orange Man Bad:

“Electric vehicles are now squarely a part of the culture wars. A Gallup poll found that 71 percent of Republicans would not buy an E.V., compared with 17 percent of Democrats. Former President Donald Trump has used increasingly brutal language about electric vehicles and their effect on the American economy, claiming they will ‘kill’ America’s auto industry and calling E.V.s an ‘assassination’ of jobs.”

Which arguably they are, given the flood of Chinese EVs made with lousy environmental standards, a captive labour force and unsustainable subsidies. And of course “The fossil fuel industry is also pushing back against the new E.P.A. rule.” Boo!

Also boo the market generally. Gelles says:

“America’s car dealers are a major obstacle to the transition to E.V.s. At one point last year, two-thirds of U.S. dealerships did not have a single E.V. for sale, according to a Sierra Club report. And about half of dealers said they wouldn’t offer an E.V. even if they could.”

But what would they know. After all the public is clamouring for them and it’s a brilliant new opportunity, right? Er, no.

“The profit margins for E.V.s. are generally smaller than for gas-powered cars, and selling them requires infrastructure investments. Perhaps more important, dealerships make nearly half of their profits by servicing cars. Electric vehicles have fewer parts, require far fewer trips to the service department and are cheaper to maintain than gas-powered cars and trucks. And dealers are politically influential, with donations that are heavily tilted toward the Republican Party.”

Boo Republican Party. As a matter of fact, the evidence seems to be in that EVs, as currently built, are very expensive to maintain, a major shock to many buyers including Hertz which just dumped its EV inventory and its CEO over his disastrous decision to gamble heavily on them. But the Times is done with evidence when it comes to climate.

The politicians are apparently done with evidence as well. The Times approvingly quoted a statement from President Joe Biden that:

“Three years ago, I set an ambitious target: that half of all new cars and trucks sold in 2030 would be zero-emission. Together, we’ve made historic progress. Hundreds of new expanded factories across the country. Hundreds of billions in private investment and thousands of good-paying union jobs. And we’ll meet my goal for 2030 and race forward in the years ahead.”

It isn’t even true as a description of the current situation. As the Times piece admits:

“A record 1.2 million electric vehicles rolled off dealers’ lots last year, but they made up just 7.6 percent of total U.S. car sales, far from the 56 percent target under the new regulation. An additional 16 percent of new cars sold would be hybrids.”

And NB 2030 is now just six years away. It is true that in the 1920s the American car market was transformed at blinding speed, from one where people did not have cars to one where they did. It happened because the cars could be made profitably and people were enthusiastic about buying them without having to be forced by regulation to do it. And along the way the initially promising steam and electric alternatives went into the ditch while the gasoline car sailed down the highway, driven by consumer choice. (By the time of the Great Depression, Will Rogers observed sardonically, the U.S. had become the first nation that could go to the poorhouse in an automobile).

This “transformation” is a different matter. It is government-driven and halting, and is being forced in against consumer preferences. Maybe it will succeed but we’ll believe it when we see it given the long and disastrous history of governmental “industrial policy” across many lands.

2 comments on “You've just gotta believe”

  1. No,Governments and MSM just don't listen.And only see what they want to see,as evidenced above.On social media,I see EV owners tout their
    expensive toys often.How great they are,low costs of charging(at home at least),low maintenance(till something does go wrong),how fast they go
    from 0-60mph!Whoop-dee-doo!So you can get a ticket for stunt driving that much easier?So I ask them a few questions.Like how much did you pay
    for said EV?What is your annual salary?Do you have a private driveway,or better,an attached garage?If you live in an apt. or condo,does Condo Board
    allow or pay for charging stations?How much in taxpayer-funded subsidies did they receive?Usually hear crickets for most questions posed to them.
    Some claim insurance costs are almost the same as ICE cars.Not in some places like California.And in many cases a minor fender bender can result in
    your EV being a writeoff,not worth repairing(see Hertz Rentals).Some insurance companies,particularly in UK,will no longer insure them.I see this
    so-called EV boom as a boondoggle to be,and we're all gonna pay for it in countless ways.Shame.

  2. There is no grid capacity nor infrastructure nor realistic plans for such to accommodate such mandates.
    “When people want the impossible, only liars will satisfy them.” - Thomas Sowell

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