EVs Driving us into Madness

EVs Driving us into Madness

Buoyed by presidential support and the Inflation Reduction Act, sales of electric vehicles (EVs) reportedly rose last year, only to encounter a brutish dash of reality come 2024.

As I watch the cascading headlines of recent months that portend a slowly gathering transportation (and economic) disaster, I wonder if there is a way to reverse our nation’s ill-advised push towards EVs.

Actually, before the calendar page turned, news surfaced of widespread distaste for electric vehicles—or shall I say, a more reasonable turn towards hybrids as a way of lessening oil usage without the attendant EV headaches?

There was this late-December Associated Press report that in 2023 Americans had purchased more than one million hybrids, up 76% from a year earlier.

That figure didn’t include sales of 148,000 plug-in hybrids, which go a short distance on battery power before a gas-electric system takes over.

S’now Good

Snow plowThis news came on the heels of a November story about New York turning to diesel snow plows this past winter after a test of electric trucks failed to produce the desired results.

A major problem is that the EV plows didn’t perform well in cold temperatures. I saw several news stories about that very situation with electric cars during the January cold snap that affected a huge swath of the country.

Yet another canary in the coal mine surfaced in early January when rental car giant Hertz announced it was cutting its EV fleet by a third.

In its story, financial publication Barrons noted that rental customers weren’t crazy about EVs, shunning such incentives as a free extra day with a two-day EV rental. The magazine said customers may have been worried about range and charger availability, especially on out-of-town trips.

“None of that is a good sign for U.S. demand for EVs,” Barrons said. “Sales growth is slowing as electric models near 10% of U.S. new-car sales.”

EVs Charged Up?

The Biden administration’s push for EVs also suffered a black eye via  this story in the Los Angeles Times two weeks after Hertz’s sell-off.

The Times chronicled how a man in Oakland was set to buy an EV Mustang but held off because of hearing bad things about the public charging system. To test it out, he borrowed an EV from Ford—and bought a plug-in hybrid instead.

This driver’s test wasn’t an anomaly either. According to the newspaper, public chargers operated by four companies in California don’t work 20-30% of the time. One reason: when the state passed out a billion dollars in grants and subsidies, it didn’t require charger companies to meet any performance standards.

EVs Driving us into Madness Blog post by Ken Walker Writer. Pictured a parking spot for an electric vehicle to charge.

For additional proof of our EV headaches, in mid-February the LA paper carried another story about the state’s declining EV sales.

While not clear if that represents a blip or the start of a downward trend, the Times noted the news was raising questions about California’s ability to meet its ambitious climate goals. They include a pledge to ban the sale of new gasoline- and diesel-powered cars and light trucks by 2035.

“It’s an interesting time for the automakers and consumers,” Greg Brannon, director of automotive engineering at the AAA Auto Club, told the newspaper. “The government and automakers have spent billions on something consumers may not want.

Bingo! Truer words were never spoken. And without a rapid course correction, I fear the U.S. will soon be careening into madness.

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