In a very real way, that’s exactly what’s happening. In California right now – and probably soon, other states as well.
The “moon shot” in question is a $22 million project (just for openers) to build thousands of electric vehicle charging stations at $15,000 a piece in the Los Angeles area to support electric cars … which can’t get very far without an electric umbilical cord.
Electric cars like the Nissan Leaf and the electric version of the VW Golf have a full-charge range of about 80 miles under ideal conditions. Less, if it’s very cold – or very hot – outside. The efficiency of electric batteries decreases with temperature extremes as well as use of accessories such as headlights and air conditioning and heaters.
Leaving aside the luxury-car price tag of electric cars (the Leaf and electric Golf, which both list for about $30,000, are the “cheapies” of the bunch; a Tesla starts at about $70k), their limited radius of action makes them useless for other than short trips – under ideal conditions – and when there’s a place to plug in at each end.
And even when there is a place to plug in, the wait is Soviet.
It takes at least 30-45 minutes to recharge an electric car using a high-capacity “super” charging system like the ones being pushed (for you to pay for) by Tesla CEO Elon Musk and being implemented in California.
Who is going to queue up to wait 30-45 minutes to recharge their $30,000 electric car so they can travel maybe another 80 miles before having to stop for another 30-45 minutes? Keep in mind, this assumes ideal conditions. Sunny and warm (but not too warm). If you have to use the headlights or the air conditioning or the heater, your mileage will vary. It’s also necessary – if you want to get where you are going – to drive at a Prius-esque pace. Sustained speeds higher than about 50 MPH dramatically reduce the electric car’s range, as does anything more than the gentlest acceleration.
Meanwhile, the humblest new economy car that costs half as much – and which doesn’t require thousands of dollars in taxpayer-funded bribes to induce people to buy one – can travel 300-400 miles at 75 MPH on a tank of gas. And when the tank runs dry, it can be refilled in five minutes … for about $20.
You do the math.
John Boesel of CALSTART, for example. CALSTART is a crony capitalist cartel (they style themselves an “alliance of companies and groups supporting renewable energy”) that uses government power to enrich itself at taxpayer expense. Boesel writes that the $22 million in extorted capital is “…a game changer in the economics of installing charging (stations).”
In the same way that it’s a “game changer” when a mugger helps himself to your wallet. He’s richer. But you’re poorer. A zero sum transaction.
Boesel even admits this. He says: “…before, the economics were getting in the way. Now there’s a real solution being offered.”
Sure. Just seize people’s money and the “economics” become favorable. Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders no doubt agrees.
But it begs the question: If electric cars – and electric charging stations – are so desirable (or even slightly desirable) why is it necessary to constantly prop them up with subsidies?
If the economics make sense, none of this would be necessary.
The fact that it is necessary is telling.
California – the government, not the people – is pushing electric cars like Stalin pushed pushed forced collectivization of farms. The state demands that 1.5 million “clean” (that is, electric) cars be in service by 2025, just nine years from now. A law (SB 350; see here) was passed last year mandating that the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) “invest” in (that is, use other people’s money to fund) “… accelerate(d) widespread transportation electrification to reduce dependence on petroleum and met air quality standards.”
The $22 million “investment” (the cost will be folded into Californians’ utility bills) is just a down payment.
Southern California Edison is one of three state utilities that will be offloading the cost of “widespread electrification” onto the backs of California taxpayers. The other two – Sand Diego Gas & Electric and Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) also have “proposals” pending. If each is worth – if each costs – another $22 million then taxpayers are a looking at not-far-from $100 million in EV payola.
That’s just initially. Once the programs getup and running, the total cost could exceed $355 million according to CPUC’s own estimates – which are almost certainly lowball (as government estimates of the cost of everything government does invariably are).
All this as gas prices dip to historic lows – a function of increased supply. The decades-old mantra that “we’re running out oil!” is belied by the fact that new reserves (and new extraction methods) have pushed the cost of a barrel of crude to $30 a barrel as of mid-January. If we were “running out of oil” there would be less oil available – and the cost of oil would be going up rather than down.
Electricity is neither free nor without “environmental impact.” The utilities that generate power do so for the most part by burning (wait for it) oil and coal. If the state of California – if other states – get their wish and millions of electric cars come online, it will mean more demand for electricity, which will mean… burning more oil and coal. (SB 350 also mandates that by 2030, utilities produce 50 percent of their electricity using “renewable” sources. Good luck with that, given that nuclear – the only other economically/functionall viable alternative – has been takeoff the table.)
So much for the “green” argument.
Both tailpipe-wise and pocketbook-wise.
The homely truth is that electric cars are pretty much the least efficient – and most expensive – way to get from A to B. The “economics” are impossible. Which is why they need not one but two crutches to prop up their existence.
How much more of this can California taxpayers afford? How much more of this can the country afford?
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