Auto buyers have good reasons for avoiding e-cars
Electric vehicles are the least effective way of satisfying consumers' needs
This article originally appeared in the Washington Examiner July 12, 2023.
Big government mandates are forcing the national transition to electric vehicles. Consumer demand doesn’t appear to matter.
Government is doling out billions in special loans and subsidies to select companies and twisting tax policy to make EVs appear cheaper. At the same time, heavy-handed mandates are making traditional, reliable cars more expensive and harder to produce.
Despite these efforts, the evidence is increasingly clear: Electric vehicles are not ready for prime time.
People buy vehicles to get them where they want to go, when they want to go there, with the things they want to take along with them. Yet a June study from AAA found that electric trucks lose nearly 25% of their range when they haul heavy loads. Even when they’re carrying 100 pounds less than their maximum load, their range drops off precipitously.
Trucks powered by combustion engines can lose range, too. But when you compare them with electric vehicles, traditional vehicles have a clear advantage. A Magna International towing test, carried out in July 2022, compared the capacity of a Ford F-150 Lightning to a gasoline-powered GMC Sierra when both trucks were towing a 6,100 lb. trailer at highway speeds. The gasoline-powered Sierra managed to pull the trailer 156 miles with an estimated 65 miles remaining in the tank, for a total of just over 220 miles. The F-150 Lightning managed an anemic 86 miles before requiring a charge. The gas truck went more than 2.5 times the EV’s distance.
Magna did a similar range test in October, comparing a Ram Cummins diesel with a GMC Hummer EV. Again, both trucks were pulling 6,100 lb. trailers at highway speeds. The Hummer had to stop at 123.2 miles, with an estimated 5 additional miles remaining in the battery — for a total possible distance of 128 miles. The Dodge Ram made it 212 miles before stopping to refuel, with an estimated 87 miles (or more than a quarter of the tank) remaining. That’s a total possible distance of 299 miles. The diesel truck was able to go more than 2.4 times farther.
It’s not just trucks. Electric vehicles, as a whole, are less convenient options for getting people where they want to go. The Wall Street Journal described a nightmare of an EV-powered trip from New Orleans to Chicago, highlighting range anxiety as well as extended charging times.
Certainly electric vehicles have their staunch defenders, and they appear to be OK for short trips around larger cities, where ample charging infrastructure exists. But they will fail to meet the needs of many drivers who live in rural areas or routinely need to travel on highways. Politicians are floating extensive plans to expand charging infrastructure, but that goal is decades away and will cost billions of dollars in taxpayer money .
Consumers are smart enough to know that electric vehicles don’t meet their needs. Most people, when given the option, select from a mix of luxury, reliability, cost, and design. They buy vehicles that get them where they want to go, with as little difficulty and as much comfort as they can afford. More often than not, that means avoiding an electric vehicle.
Consumers are also smart enough to know that electric vehicles are a worse investment. The North American Auto Dealers Association used Kelley Blue Book figures to conclude that the average EV has a five-year cost to own of more than $92,000. A typical internal combustion vehicle, meanwhile, costs only $76,500 over that same time frame. The association also noted that, after five years of ownership, electric vehicles depreciated by an average of $43,515, whereas traditional vehicles depreciated by $27,883.
The politicians who are coercing the public into buying electric vehicles are ignoring these realities as they force people to buy products they don’t want at far higher prices.
Mandates from on high should always concern customers and voters because they are inefficient and take away consumer choice. But electric vehicle mandates, in particular, use a top-down method that satisfies only the desires of government bureaucrats and C-suite executives, not consumers or the public.
Jason Hayes is the Mackinac Center’s director for energy and environmental policy. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.