Lifestyles of the Rich and Electrified

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GM just revealed details about the electric Hummer it plans to offer through its GMC division as a 2022 model sometime later next year – assuming there is a next year.

It will apparently have the ability to crab walk diagonally via driver-adjustable four-wheel steering, climb an 18-inch vertical wall and get to 60 through a “WTF” app, emulating Elon’s “Ludicrous Speed” Teslas.

GM says the base price  will be $112,595.

That’s about what an aluminum-bodied, twin-turbo V8 Mercedes G-Class (a non-electric but otherwise comparable) price-no-object off-roader lists for.

Both are fundamentally silly things in that no one needs what they offer. Not that there’s anything wrong with buying more than you need – or silliness, even. But it begs the question that seems to never even get raised: Why are electric cars – and lately, electric trucks – so focused on extravagant capabilities that render them beyond the ability of almost everyone to afford them? Isn’t the whole EV Thing supposed to be about putting lots of electric vehicles on the road, so as to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide being released into the air?

How does that get done when almost no one can afford to drive an EV?

What if that is the answer?

It is certainly telling that almost every electric vehicle on the market does not tout minimalism – use less, save more – which was once the prime directive of the environmental movement. Instead, the opposite – excessively so.

This garish display of over-the-topness is like that old TV show, Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. Robin Leach would walk the viewers through some mogul’s palace that would humble Crassus, pointing out the 30 foot vaulted cathedral ceilings, the indoor heated olympic swimming pool, the walk-in meat locker and maybe even the alligator pit in the atrium. It was of course entertaining to see how the few lived but it was understood that the many don’t live this way; the whole point of the thing was to see just how  . . . ludicrous and WTF a home could be if cost didn’t matter.

Of course, it does matter if you’re not rich and famous. Which is why most people don’t live in the kinds of homes featured on the show.

The EV thing, though, should be primarily about cost mattering since if it doesn’t the EV doesn’t matter.

If we assume the point is to get people into EVs   . . . as opposed to out of cars.

Which does it sound like it is?

How many $112,595 electric Hummers can GM sell? One way to rough-estimate this is to have a look at how many Gelandewagens Mercedes sells. It’s not many. About 7,500 so far this year. There’s an inherent limit to how many of these things Mercedes – and GM – can sell because there’s a limited number of people who can spend six figures on any car, electric or otherwise.

The entire category – vehicles in this general price range – has accounted for about 46,570 sales so far this year, including sales of the $79,000 to start Tesla S sedan. Which, it’s interesting to note, Tesla has been serially discounting over the past month – to compensate for the loss of the $7,500 federal tax kickback that disappeared when Tesla sales reached the volume limit built into the kickback legislation. Without the kickback, the car isn’t selling . . . because there are only so many people who can eat a $7,500 price increase.

Tesla has sold a fairly large number of its Model 3 – the “affordable” Tesla, which has a base price of about $40,000. But there is also an inherent limit here as well as far as the number of people who can afford a $40,000 car – which is about $5,000 more expensive than the average transaction price paid for a car last year and – much more relevant – about twice the price of an entry level non-electric compact sedan or crossover.

Implicit in this math is that the least expensive new cars in an electric car future will be twice the price of the non-electric cars you can buy right now. And which you won’t be able to buy in the future, as non-electric cars are regulated off the market.

Even the Nissan Leaf – which is the least expensive new electric car available – has a starting price over $31,000 and that’s for the model with just 150 miles of range. The “Plus” model that can make it just over 200 miles lists for more than $38,000 – right there with the Tesla Model 3.

None of this needs to be this way but it is this way because electric vehicles are not being designed for maximum efficiency.

Like the Tesla, Nissan’s Leaf touts its quickness. It gets to 60 in 8.4 seconds, which is two full seconds quicker to 60 than a Toyota Prius, which was designed for maximum efficiency and thus costs thousands less ($24,525) than a Leaf.

It also has a 600-plus mile range and doesn’t force you to plan your life around recharging sessions.

The problem here, though, is that lots of average  people could afford a Prius. Millions of them have been sold. That runs counter to the ugly undertow beneath the virtue-signaling surface of the push for electrification of transportation, which is to get people of out of cars by making them too expensive for the majority, achieved by making electric cars that emphasize their “ludicrous-ness” and “WTF-ness.”

That is how carbon dioxide “emissions” will be lowered.

Once you see this, it is hard to unsee it. But most don’t – yet – because they’re dazzled by the display of what they can’t afford, in the manner of gawping at the latest episode of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.

In the end, they will be like the proletariat of the old Soviet Union that lined the streets to watch as the mirror-polished Packard limos rolled by with the governing elite within and behind their bullet-proofed windows.

. . .

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30 COMMENTS

  1. I sometimes wonder how close we are to that very dangerous and mostly silent group of used up and cast aside military folk deciding that killing themselves is no longer the answer, but that killing still might be. Hell, the children of the first soldiers in the sand pit are doing duty over there, killing and being maimed for whatever the frick it is the masters want. Eventually peasants rise up. Especially well armed and trained peasants.

  2. I suspect that if the current trajectory continues, we will be lucky to live indoors, much less drive a car. The primary purpose of the plandemic is to provide cover for the bank cartels ongoing extraction of what wealth is left in whats left of the middle class. They mean for us to be their starving peasant servants, and if the woefully uneducated populace doesn’t resist, and soon, they will succeed in their endeavor. I see no such resistance arising in any effective quantity. I fear things will get far worse before they get better, if they ever do. I know, that’s pessimistic, but you know what they say, pessimist is a word created by optimists to describe realists.

  3. I suppose I will buy one or two to drive to Dana Point to board my yacht and take a boat ride up and down the west coast, I dunno. Being rich and famous has its definite benefits, that’s for sure, indulgences gone wild!

    Me thinks I would rather buy a used 747 and have it streamlined for the 21st Century on the go hip billionaire in flight bidness. Go big or go home.

    54,000 gallons of jet fuel and you are eight miles high for a while. The new Appian Way is the sky, man.

    Buy a Hummer for each airport where you land. Drive the electric Hummer around Berlin while the 747 is fueled and ready for the next destination.

    If you want a lifestyle like the rich and famous, just buy 20 electric Hummers and have them at airports hither and yon across the globe.

    Hyperbole doesn’t have to be exaggerated.

    The second greatest thrill in the world is flying.

    The world’s greatest thrill is landing.

  4. It seems to me that this push to take away people’s cars is an attempt to get rid of the world capitalism enabled – a world where there’s no such thing as an aristocrat and the common man can live well.

    The drive – pun unintended – to get The People out of our cars is meant to force us onto the new feudal manor – the big city. Where the lords and ladies of the modern world’s aristocracy are all powerful. If we can’t leave, they can control us.

    Don’t forget that part – that the Big City is the new Feudal Manor.

    The world’s elites are still angry at capitalism for making the peasants powerful enough to have a voice and a comfortable life.

    They want to take that away from us and turn back the clock to a time when the common man labored in the mud, doffed his cap to the local lord on pain of death and lost half his income to said lord in exchange for the privilege of using the lord’s fields, mill, church and in time, cemetery.

    And not incidentally, when aristocrats were thought to be a superior species of human being who were owed allegiance, respect, fealty and taxes by the peasants.

    • Hi Ice,

      Yup. Wealth confers less distinction when it’s general and while an average middle class American may not live in a 10,000 square foot home or own a Bentley, he does – or can – own a nice home with many of the same amenities, just not as gaudy. His car may not be a Bentley, but it has AC and most of the features which defined luxury car for the rich only – or mostly – at one time.

      And the evil bastards can’t stand it.

  5. I think I’d much rather just buy a surplus military Humvee. They typically sell for $10-30k, so you might obtain 10 of those for the price of this electric version. But you’re right, Eric. It so much amazes me about how ridiculous the “luxury EV” is. Someone SHOULD be able to build a decent little EV for $10k or less, and give it a ~50 mile range, which would work for a daily city commuter. I just don’t see it anywhere. It still wouldn’t quite pay for itself with today’s gas prices unless you fed it completely with grid-less solar or the like.

    • The military is limiting sales of old HMMWVs to the public. Since they don’t meet current vehicle standards (crash worthiness, theft prevention, emissions, and on and on) they have decided they don’t want the liability of selling them to someone who might just run one on the road, instead of on their farm.

      The EV Hummer is definitely a lifestyle vehicle. Am I going to buy one, even if I win the lottery? Nope. But freshly minted NBA & NFL stars will line up to get one[0]. And GM knows this – they will be hand-built by a low-volume builder like Mayflower Vehicle Systems.

      [0] The first year of the Charlotte Hornets, a local gun shop became the #1 seller of gold-plated .50 Desert Eagles in the US. It’s all about looking like a high-roller…

        • Hi BaDnOn,

          The original H1 was available with a sturdy diesel engine and it’s telling that these things are still readily available on the used market almost 20 years after they stopped making them. As military-sourced vehicles, they are designed to last decades. How long will this Christmas tree last?

            • Hi Anon,

              It’s actually a terrible all-terrain vehicle, if the criteria are long-term ruggedness and field-fixability. This is a boutique off-roader for poseurs. There is no way this overteched monstrosity will hold up over time. It is another disposable app on wheels, just a very expensive one.

      • Hi Chip!

        Absolutely – in re the “high roller” thing. Which – as such – is ok with me. But what I find teeth-aching idiotic is the presentation (and lauding) of EVs like this as some kind of palliative measure for “climate change.” Christ! It is like some asshole touting how “green” his 10,000 square foot mansion is because he installed triple pane Pella windows and has solar panels on the roof.

  6. The rich folks toys usually end up affordable for the masses, but not always. I’ve always envied those private flights they get. I finally got to take one of those this year. It was cool having filet mignon and free liquor/wine… absolutely no TSA or security to deal with… 600 mph.

    These electric vehicles I really don’t envy. Sort of reminds me of smart watches – I don’t need or want that.

    • Oh, I don’t know. Having a vehicle that can easily be “refueled” in your home seems like it would be a pretty nice perk, especially if you have other vehicles for other tasks (the right tool for the job, indeed). Not only that, but you’ll be the hit of the cocktail-conference circuit wowing them with your harrowing tales of range anxiety and greenwashing the rest of your consumptive lifestyle.

      And then there’s the tax breaks. Lots of tax breaks. They’re upset over Trump’s $750 tax bill because they’re trying to figure out how he did it, not because it’s so cheap (which, as anyone who has to make quarterly payments knows, and he attempted to explain in two minutes, is anything but). Knock another $7.50e3 off the tax bill here and there and it adds up. Even if the damn thing just sits in the garage.

  7. The Arcimoto is the only electric vehicle on the market that makes any sense yet somehow they’re not being showered with billions of uncle sam’s filthy money. If the goal really was to lower air pollution and decrease congestion the guvment would be investing in this company to get mass production rolling and reduce the msrp drastically. Sadly we get Government Motors trash like this new fapoff hymmer shitbox. At least they could still make the volt or simmilar cars/crossovers with the same technology. That was the only good full size electric and they axed it.

    • This is closer to what I’d thought possible. Still about $8k too expensive, though, I think. It’s a bit short on details, as well, but looks much more sensible than a Tesla or an electric Hummer.

  8. All true and yet I really like the looks of this thing. This is a 6 inch shot across the bow of Elon’s Cyber Truck monstrosity, at least stylistically.

    If only they weren’t true believers and put in just enough battery pack to run around town for 50 miles or so, with an onboard turbine generator fueled by your choice of anything (kerosene, jet A, diesel fuel, propane, LNG, ethanol, cheap gas, whatever) they might really have something interesting.

    Maybe someone at Ford has some brains and could do an Expedition or Mark LT like that?

    Unfortunately, they’re locked in to appeasing Mary Barra and her kind with an overpriced Barbie Jeep ride-on toy.

    • I love the turbine idea for cars, either as a hybrid or just as an engine. There’s something very satisfying to the Mad Max in me about the “anything” fuel options.

        • Fuel economy wasn’t what killed the Chrysler Turbine Car, in my humble opinion. Gas mileage for the car was in the teens and low 20s, which was about what other cars of the time were getting.

          The turbine’s horrible throttle response killed the public’s enthusiasm for it.

          The Turbine Car required you to floor it and wait, in an era when Americans were used to big V8s with big off-idle torque spikes that would go RIGHT NOW.

        • They had one of those Chrysler turbine cars on display at my college back then. All I remember is that it sounded like a giant vacuum cleaner 😆.

  9. “Implicit in this math is that the least expensive new cars in an electric car future will be twice the price of the non-electric cars you can buy right now.” — EP

    And that’s why economics is called the dismal science. It’s a perpetual sad story of luxuries we all covet, but just can’t afford.

    ReadyKilowatt mentioned Moore’s Law and its effect on Elon’s squirming, mottled mind. When the technical issue is simply one of printing integrated circuits onto silicon at increasingly fine resolutions measured in microns, the process advances so predictably that Intel calls its iterations “tick-tock.”

    But when it comes to commodities whose critical physical dimension is denoted in POUNDS rather than microns, a different law applies. Over a century, commodity prices may decline by a mild 1 percent per year, as mining, transport and power generation technology improves. Shorter term, commodities are subject to temporary but vicious spikes caused by supply shortages. Call it Simon’s Law, after Julian Simon who won a notorious 10-year bet with Paul Ehrlich by recognizing that the jacked-up prices of strategic metals in 1980 would recede to their longer-term flattish trend by 1990.

    No matter how much electrochemical battery technology advances, batteries still consist of a thousand or more pounds of heavy materials subject to Simon’s Law, not Moore’s Law.

    And on the back side of the power outlet in the wall (a novel concept to Kalifornians, to be sure), the massively upgraded national power grid needed to charge an all-electric fleet is ALL a Simon’s Law entity — including the likelihood of a destructive price spike in the 2020s caused by anything from war to mine closures to currency collapse.

    All this points to an epic conceptual error on the part of Prophet Elon and his purblind acolytes in government. Not only will the price of e-vehicles converge to that of IC vehicles at a pace measured in decades, but also it may NEVER CONVERGE AT ALL. And if so, then the bill of goods we have been sold is known colloquially as a “pig in a poke.”

  10. All of this beating around with these battery operated vehicles and “OMG, we are killing the planet with IC engines”, leads to the only conclusion. The wannabe tyrants in DC and Silicon Valley want us (the peons who are not them) to regress to Mao’s China where the masses are afforded bicycles as the only mode of transportation. All the easier to control.

  11. I sort of give Elon a bit of a pass on pricing because he’s been brought up in the silly-con valley world of expecting prices to fall because of Moore’s law (which I’m very much aware isn’t really a law, but that’s the term used, so that’s why I’m using it). The Apple I “computer” sold for $666 in 1975. That’s over $3 grand today, and it still needed a TV, TV modulator, keyboard, power supply and cassette storage. Now there were cheaper kits available but not much. For certain, a home computer was a rich geek’s toy. He often talks about lower prices, but can’t seem to move the needle, mostly because vehicles are more than a drivetrain.

    But GM actually building that monstrosity? That’s ridiculous. Destined to become the Texas Instruments TI-99/4 or IBM PC Jr. of the electric vehicle story.

    • Hi RK,

      The thing that slays me is the purposeful over-the-topness. How large a battery does this thing have? I bet it’s at least 1,500 lbs. And then three high-output motors. How does this reduce C02 emissions?

  12. The parade will be all about the ICE powered cars when the American proletariat watches. You know the important people won’t have electrics. They must be prepared and protected. No range anxiety for them.

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