Laborers Can’t Afford their Own Vehicles
As we prepare to observe Labor Day next Monday, the question uppermost in my mind is: how can any worker turning out electric vehicles (EV) on today’s assembly line afford one?
When Ford recently lowered its F-150 Lightning by about $10,000, it still left a sticker-shock-level price of $49,000. To buy one, a modest wage earner who scrapes together a $4,000 down payment will still face financing charges of $744 a month for six years. Talk about a drag on your monthly budget.
I’ve been thinking about EVs staggering costs ever since Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow stepped in deep doo-doo last year with comments about her expensive electric car reducing dependence on oil.
Interestingly, she’s also not a candidate for re-election in 2024.
I gave additional consideration to EV prices when I saw this Feb. 13 story in The Atlantic, headlined, “The Inconvenient Truth About Electric Vehicles.”
The feature appeared the day after the Super Bowl, when EV ads occupied a prominent place in the million-dollar advertising lineup. Writer Andrew Moseman noted one thing these ads didn’t mention was that the range of those vehicles depends a lot on how much you spend on one.
He pointed out the “basic” $45,000 version of the Chevy Blazer can go 247 miles on a charge. But to reach 290 miles means paying $47,595. For 320 miles, it mushrooms to $51,995.
“Americans, in particular, mythologize the car as the great equalizer,” Moseman wrote. Soon after, he added, “On the eve of the long-promised electric-vehicle revolution, the myth is due for an update … with an EV, economic status is suddenly more connected to how much of the world you get to see …”
It isn’t just the expense of EVs that bothers me. In our rush to discard the internal combustion engine, our nation is overlooking attendant problems. Take the push to produce more vehicle-sucking electricity—60% of it coming from fossil fuels. Can anyone say, “Irony”?
There are other problems, too. Chief among them is the huge supply of lithium we will need to manufacture EV batteries.
A recent story in Time magazine chronicled the 2018 discovery of one of the world’s richest lithium deposits in eastern Maine. A geologically minded couple found the deposit while searching for tourmaline, a multi-colored gemstone.
Now Mary and Gary Freeman want to expand their pit near the town of Newry so they can mine spodumene, crystals that contain lithium. Desperately needed lithium since—according to Time—by 2040 the world will need 10 times the current production level.
Objections to Mining
Not surprisingly, in a state that frowns on mining, objections are surfacing. Says State Rep. Margaret O’Neill: “As we facilitate our transition away from fossil fuels, we examine the risks of lithium mining and consider whether the benefits … justify the harms.”
Such brewing disputes are nothing new. Two years ago, the Shoshone-Paiute tribe in northern Nevada went to court in an attempt to block the opening of a mine at a site believed to hold North America’s largest deposit of lithium.
In mid-July, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the tribe, saying the Bureau of Land Management didn’t abuse its discretion in allowing construction to proceed.
One doesn’t need a crystal ball to foresee this dispute landing in the U.S. Supreme Court. When it does, I envision pro-electric-car environmentalists picketing outside the court, opposed in equal numbers by protect-our-land environmentalists.
We average folks who must drive gasoline-powered cars will watch with amusement.