Jennifer Granholm’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad EV trip
Even NPR admits non-Teslas have a road trip problem after Energy Department staffers block charger and citizen calls 911
Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm’s four-day electric vehicle road trip was designed to pitch EVs to a skeptical public. But the journey’s long charging times, a dispute with another EV driver over scarce energy resources, and finally a 911 call drove even National Public Radio to voice doubts about electric vehicles — at least the ones made in the state Granholm used to govern.
Granholm took NPR reporter Camila Domonoske along for the ride from Charlotte to Memphis. The purpose of the trip was to promote the practical value of the Ford Mustang Mach-E, Domonoske explains:
Granholm’s trip through the southeast, from Charlotte, N.C., to Memphis, Tenn., was intended to draw attention to the billions of dollars the White House is pouring into green energy and clean cars. The administration’s ambitious energy agenda, if successful, could significantly cut U.S. emissions and reshape Americans’ lives in fundamental ways, including by putting many more people in electric vehicles.
From Lansing to Washington, political leaders are spending public money in the belief that the electric vehicle is the future. In Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer wants two million EVs on the road by 2030 — up from about 37,000 in 2022. Granholm, a former Michigan governor, believes the U.S. military should be all-electric by 2030.
“Things are happening fast,” Granholm told town hall attendees in South Carolina, asking the audience to imagine the growth of the industry.
“You are in the center of it,” she said. “Imagine how big clean energy industries will be in 13 years. How much stronger our economy is going to grow. How many good-paying jobs we’re going to create — and where we are going to lead the world.”
Domonoske claims without elaboration that Granholm “helped rescue the auto industry during the 2008 global financial crisis” and is “in many ways the perfect person to help pitch the United States’ ambitious shift to EVs.”
But on the way from Charlotte to Memphis, reality interrupted the pitch. And the police were called:
But between stops, Granholm’s entourage at times had to grapple with the limitations of the present. Like when her caravan of EVs — including a luxury Cadillac Lyriq, a hefty Ford F-150 and an affordable Bolt electric utility vehicle — was planning to fast-charge in Grovetown, a suburb of Augusta, Georgia.
Her advance team realized there weren’t going to be enough plugs to go around. One of the station’s four chargers was broken, and others were occupied. So an Energy Department staffer tried parking a nonelectric vehicle by one of those working chargers to reserve a spot for the approaching secretary of energy.
Gas engines outnumbered EVs 100-to-1 in 2022, per U.S. Department of Energy data. Yet in the funhouse mirror of NPR, a gas-powered vehicle is deemed “nonelectric.”
Electric vehicles take a long time to charge, even in the best of circumstances.
A family with a baby, in need of the blocked spot, objected to the Energy Department’s misuse of energy infrastructure and public vehicles. The parents called 911. The cops came but decided they couldn’t do anything about a gas vehicle taking an EV spot. There was no legal recourse, just an annoyance, courtesy of America’s secretary of energy.
“Energy Department staff scrambled to smooth over the situation, including sending other vehicles to slower chargers, until both the frustrated family and the secretary had room to charge,” Domonoske reports. But the bottom line is that a U.S. energy secretary with a caravan of EVs and an advance team couldn’t make a long trip work without the cops getting involved.
Domonoske, an auto reviewer and EV owner, doesn’t give up the pitch for electric vehicles, instead resorting to a strange comparison: “[A]t home, charging an EV is much easier (not to mention cheaper) than fueling up with gasoline; you just plug in overnight, and you’re good to go every morning.”
People don’t have gas pumps at home, of course. They fill up the night before or in the morning, and those fill-ups take less time than charging an EV. None of that context made it into the story.
With a vague assurance to listeners that Top Men are working on the problem, Domonoske gives up on painting a pretty picture of Granholm’s road trip.
“Riding along with Granholm, I came away with a major takeaway,” Domonoske writes. “EVs that aren’t Teslas have a road trip problem, and the White House knows it’s urgent to solve this issue.”
James David Dickson is managing editor of Michigan Capitol Confidential. 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.