Several years back, I had a close friend who approached me seeking help. She and a partner had started a business less than a year prior and it was doing poorly. She thought perhaps another set of eyes looking at the situation might help solve it. My first question to her was about projections in their business plan. She looked at me blankly. Business plan? There was no business plan.
As it turned out she and her business partner had what they considered to be a cool idea and envisioned the world embracing it and inevitably, success rolling their way. Their broad concept was fascinating, but the specifics of how they had executed the opening and initial months of the business was littered with errors. Virtually all could have been avoided had they taken the time to research and assemble a business plan. They might have even found out in advance that their cool idea wasn’t financially feasible. Instead, money had been spent on a range of unnecessary things with little thought to consequence or how they would actually generate customers.
So it is with Joe Biden’s plan to convert the American automobile market to 100% electric vehicles. EVs made up just 2% of U.S. auto sales in 2020. In fact industry analysts say American electric car sales actually fell in 2020 by about 10%. Despite the clear lack of consumer interest, President Biden is insisting the government knows better. He wants every single vehicle sold in the United States by 2035 to be electric.
The 2023 cars are right around the corner, so in just 12 model years we are going to go from 98% gas powered cars to 100% electric cars? Is this really what America needs? What are the benefits?
Much like my friend’s failed business, the concept of a world full of sleek, silent electric cars sounds like a cool idea. The real question is in the details. Is there a business plan? Preferably one that has been put together by people with a background in business, not by a bunch of government bureaucrats? It doesn’t seem so.
There are several simple, yet very practical questions that need to be asked and answered before we take even one more step on this EV path. Currently there is a gas station at nearly every interstate exit covering our vast highway system and throughout every city and town. Experts estimate there are about 115,000 gas stations in our 50 states. Each station has multiple pumps, so the number of actual gas pumps is in excess of 1 million.
How many electric charging stations are there? Estimates vary wildly, but suffice to say you wouldn’t head out on a cross country journey expecting one at your beckon-call anywhere you happen to be. Mr. Biden has promised 500,000 charging stations, paid for by Uncle Sam. The president is proposing $174 billion tax dollars be spent on things like establishing grant and incentive programs for state and local governments and the private sector to build a national network of 500,000 EV chargers by 2030.
Why is the government pledging to fund and build hundreds of thousands of chargers? How many gas stations did the federal government build? None. The free market worked instead. Like so many whimsical ideas of those who spend other people’s money and have no accountability on the other end, the government building charging stations is a colossally bad idea.
If the government funds charging stations and forces auto makers to make EVs, they will effectively be putting gas station owners out of business. Who will pay to recoup their investment? Who will pay to have the underground fuel tanks dug up and disposed of? You and me of course, in taxes.
How long does it take to charge an electric vehicle? A recent Wall Street Journal article pointed out that a 1,900 mile trip in a modern gas-powered car takes about 30 hours of driving time. An electric car, even when charged on a “fast” charger, turns that same trip into 58 hours on the road. Ouch.
For an apples to apples comparison, let’s look at a typical gas powered auto in the U.S. today. That auto holds 12 gallons of gas, which on average takes less than 7 minutes to fill, including credit card payment, fuel selection and pump return after the vehicle is full. The average car can travel between 300 and 350 miles on that one tank of gas.
Cadillac just announced the all electric 2023 Cadillac Lyric. It claims that the car can travel 300 miles on a full charge, though variations in weather, like extreme heat or winter cold, can seriously reduce that number. Running the vehicle at highway speed tends to burn through the electricity faster as well. Skeptics say even an average of 250 miles may still be a high estimate. More importantly, the 2023 Cadillac Lyric will take more than 45 minutes to recharge on a “fast” charger. The promotion for the new crossover bragged that you could get as much as 76 miles of charge in just 10 minutes.
Seriously? We want every car in America to take seven to ten times as long as current cars to fuel up while simultaneously providing a 12% to 15% shorter total mileage range? That’s progress?
It’s worth it, Bernie Sanders and AOC tell us. It’s worth it to save the planet. Even if true, that is debatable, but are electric vehicles really going to make the world better? Tom Harris, executive director of the International Climate Science Coalition, says no. “When you manufacture an EV, you produce so much more carbon dioxide that by the time it gets to the showroom it has already put out more than twice as much carbon dioxide as a normal gas powered vehicle.”
Mr. Harris went on to point out It takes about 100 barrels of oil (equivalent in energy) to make one battery for a car but that single battery only stores about one barrel of oil in energy. If there was a business plan for this whole EV thing, that would seem like important data to consider. The math is not promising.
Finally, there is the question of how all the electricity for these cool cars is generated? Of the top 10 U.S. electric power plants in 2019, nine had steam turbines powered by nuclear energy, coal, and natural gas. So all those electric cars intended to lower our use of traditional energy sources will be overwhelmingly fueled by, that’s right, traditional energy sources.
The electric car is being forced upon us by government fiat, not by consumer demand. It is less efficient, travels fewer miles, has no meaningful support infrastructure unless you and I as taxpayers pay for it, it eliminates existing jobs and it doesn’t really lower our carbon footprint.
Would someone please assemble an EV business plan? Doing so may help folks realize the only logical step is to drop this crazy notion before we hurl ourselves any further headlong toward 2035. A warm fuzzy feel-good idea won’t make anyone feel good when reality hits.