published : 2023-10-19

The Latest Attempt to Take Away Your Gas-Powered Car

Government should not be pushing the manufacture and sale of one product while demonizing another

A gas-powered car speeding down a highway, capturing the excitement of the open road. (Photo prompt - taken with Canon EOS 5D Mark IV)

In yet another attempt to regulate the car market and phase out internal combustion engines (ICE), another agency has proposed a rule with lofty ambitions of increasing fleet-wide Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards in passenger cars. This time, to 58 mpg by the year 2032.

The only way to accomplish this goal, however, is to force the manufacture and sale of electric vehicles (EV) on a large scale. This conveniently approaches President Biden’s goal of all new car sales being two thirds electric.

Consumer choice is in jeopardy and about to be sacrificed on the altar of climate change. The reality is, few consumers really want an EV. They currently only represent six percent of all new car sales and are not exactly rolling out of dealerships, even after generous government incentives and handouts.

A major overhaul of one of the largest sectors in the U.S. economy is not in the best interest of the average consumer. There are quite a few reasons why EVs are not selling like hotcakes and why the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) rule is ill-advised.

The most obvious reason is the price disparity between EVs and ICE vehicles, in which the former is at least ten thousand dollars more than the latter. Couple that with an increase in insurance premiums by 28%; an expensive installation of a level 2 charging station at your home residence; and the possibility of replacing the 1,000-pound battery with a price tag of up to $20,000.

Owning an EV is hard on the wallet, and it is no surprise that the very upper middle- and first-class elites are generally the ones buying them.

A close-up shot of an internal combustion engine, showcasing the intricate mechanisms that power traditional vehicles. (Photo prompt - taken with Nikon D850)

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

The U.S. is in no position to manufacture EVs on a grand scale. Currently, our ability to perform such tasks is limited and largely outsourced to foreign entities.

With only one operating lithium mining facility, and hamstringing any efforts to open more, we are only able to produce enough for 80,000 EVs a year. We have one nickel mine. Our one and only cobalt mine shut down as quickly as it opened. Failure to open and run mines is due to heavy opposition and rigorous permitting processes.

Perhaps worse than this is a dwindling workforce, with many slated to retire in the coming years and very few to replace them. The mining programs are being dropped from college campuses and recruitment numbers are low. Even if we had more functioning mines, they couldn’t run themselves.

China is leaving everyone in the dust with their mineral extraction and production levels, which includes a massive workforce trained to perform these tasks. They have positioned themselves quite well, putting other nations at their mercy. Being dependent upon an adversarial player puts us at a major disadvantage, especially if they exploit their dominance and use critical minerals as a bargaining chip. They could limit or cut off our supply completely. Just ask Japan.

Seventy percent of the world’s cobalt supply comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo, where human rights violations run rampant, especially when it concerns child labor. Are we willing to inflict more injustice to satisfy the needs of elites?

A fleet of electric vehicles lined up, highlighting the shift towards sustainable transportation. (Photo prompt - taken with Sony Alpha a7 III)

The infrastructure required to keep EVs running is wholly inadequate, with a limited supply of charging locations scattered around the country. Only a fraction of the charging ports is level 3, which charge 80% in 30 minutes; the rest are level 2 and can take up to four hours. These are not great statistics for the average road warrior.

There is also documented and growing uncertainty with electric reliability throughout the nation, especially as dependable baseload generation sources like coal and natural gas are being retired and replaced by wind and other intermittent renewable sources. Several regions have already experienced rolling blackouts and/or have been asked to conserve electricity. Plugging in more vehicles will only compound the problem.

And if you live in cold climates like a majority of the population do, your EV’s range can drop by 40 percent while the time to recharge it significantly increases.

All this to supposedly reduce global temperatures by 1.5 degrees. But even that is debatable. While an EV may not pollute when driven, the environmental burden is simply transferred to the manufacturing phase through critical mineral extraction and processing. Plenty of EVs will never breakeven.

Such heavy-handed regulation limits economic prosperity and growth, puts us in a vulnerable situation with foreign governments, and ultimately harms consumer welfare. Government should not be in the business of pushing the manufacture and sale of one product while demonizing another, just to advance an agenda. This stringent NHTSA rule must not be adopted.

Kristen Walker is a policy analyst for the American Consumer Institute, a nonprofit education and research organization. Follow us on Twitter @ConsumerPal.