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Chevy Bolt
credit: car&driver.com

More and more, I find myself supportive of the idea, indeed, the necessity of California’s secession from the Union. I’m beginning to believe we need a border wall more between CA and the rest of America than we do on the Southern border. I’m nearly at the point of volunteering to help build it. The Truth About Cars provides evidence:

California wants to fund more generous rebates for electric vehicle buyers as part of a massive agenda to support the adoption of zero-emission vehicles. In addition to federal incentives, the state has its own rebate program and has made plans to add additional state-sponsored tax breaks for EV buyers.

However, according to the Center for Sustainable Energy, California’s Clean Vehicle Rebate program has almost run out of funding — for a second time — after Governor Jerry Brown neglected to include it in the state budget.

As a result, the program can no longer offer rebates to purchasers of zero-emission vehicles and has placed those who made a purchase after June 30th on a refund waiting list. It’s bad news for anyone in California who wanted to by an electric car. Well, unless you’re poor, because the State of California really wants to convince low-income households to buy electric for some reason.

Regular readers of my EV articles recall, I’m sure, EV buyers make up the top 7% or so of income earners in America. The idea that the poor would be flocking to buy EVs is the worst sort of magical thinking. Of course, the Left is particularly prone to this: a thing is so because they wish it to be, say it is, or write legislation to mandate it.

This isn’t the first time California has showed a bias toward low-income individuals in regard to EV purchasing. Earlier this year, the state mandated that Volkswagen reserve a portion of its charging network for disadvantaged neighborhoods — instead of the higher traffic or commercial areas electric vehicles are more likely to occupy.

And why are EVs more likely to be found in “higher traffic or commercial areas”? Because the people frequenting those areas can afford a third or fourth novelty vehicle. They have other conventionally powered vehicles for their daily needs. They buy EVs for greenie street cred.

The state is also considering the California Electric Vehicle Initiative, which would apply additional incentives directly at the time of purchase, rather than forcing taxpayers to wait for a refund. That bill provides $3 billion in state incentives on top of the federal rebates based on manufacturer quotas. If passed, it would also set aside $500 million per year in cap and trade program funds to ensure that disadvantaged communities, schools, transit buses, and freight benefit from the electrification push.

California’s current EV program reimburses shoppers after the purchase of plug-in electric or fuel cell vehicles. Current state-based rebates range between $1,500 and $5,000, depending on the type of vehicle and the income of the buyer — prioritizing higher rebates for lesser incomes.

Wait just a minute. Isn’t this the same California with severe budget problems? No money to meet its pension obligations? No money to repair its crumbling roads, bridges and other public conveyances? The California, a significant percent of its population comprised of illegal immigrants? The same state trying to spend billions on a high-speed rail system to nowhere?

credit: pierrechevy.com

Let’s examine reality. While Chevy has a new EV—the Bolt–that is less expensive than its previous offerings, it’s still in the $38,000 range before rebates, and it’s tiny (my recent article on that vehicle is here). If you’re living from paycheck to paycheck, at or below the poverty line, not only are you not going to be buying any new cars, you’re going to be buying used, and trying to find a vehicle large enough for your needs and reliable enough so it won’t cost a fortune in repair costs you can’t afford. You’ll drive it until the wheels fall off and try to find another, similar vehicle. Theoretically, because EVs have such poor resale value, this might increase their sales among the poor, but that doesn’t factor in battery replacement costs. Buying a used EV greatly increases the probability of having to replace the battery, which costs from 1/4th to 1/3rd of the original purchase price of the EV for the battery, to say nothing of the costs of installation, and disposal of the old battery. How is it, by the way, the poor can afford to live in a state where an outhouse sells for hundreds of thousands of dollars? Obviously, many are being heavily subsidized by the state, the same state desperately in the financial hole with a Democrat-controlled political structure digging more deeply by the day.

The Financial Post adds some fiscal sanity:

But, in this latest report, the [Canadian] commission is now musing about the benefits of carbon-tax ‘signal boosters’: that is, subsidies and rules to, for instance, get people to start buying electric vehicles (EVs), as well as bans on coal-fired power. ‘Even well designed carbon pricing can have limitations,’ rationalized the commission. Mintz said he had ‘misgivings’ about the change of tack. He decided it best if he focus his advisory energies elsewhere. [skip]

So far, because nobody’s really driving these miracle machines, said mania has been limited to breathless news reports about how the electric-vehicle revolution is about to rock our world. EVs comprise just two-tenths of a per cent of all passenger vehicles in North America, despite the media’s endless hype and efforts of green-obsessed governments to cover much of the price tag, like Ontario’s $14,000 rebate for Tesla buyers. In Europe, where virtue-signalling urban environmentalism is the coolest, they’re not feeling the vehicular electricity much more: EVs account for barely one per cent of personal vehicles in France, the U.K. and Germany. When Hong Kong cancelled Tesla rebates in April, sales fell to zero.

Going by the ballyhoo, you’d think EVs were an unstoppable juggernaut. But it’s one that has yet to even get started. In his 2011 State of the Union address, then president Barack Obama predicted one million electric cars on the road by 2015. Four years later, there wasn’t even a third that many. California offered so many different subsidies for electric vehicles that low-income families could get rebates of up to US$13,500, but it still isn’t even close to reaching its target of having zero-emission vehicles make up 15 per cent of California auto sales by 2025, being stuck at three per cent since 2014.

Powerline also provides a sobering look at the EV future:

Many optimists think falling battery costs mean electric vehicles (EVs) will inevitably displace the internal combustion engine (ICE). Last week, Bloomberg predicted electric cars would become ‘price competitive’ with ICE cars in eight years without subsidies.

But such scenarios hinge not just on the cost of batteries but on the price of oil and the efficiency of competing vehicles. Economists Thomas Covert, Michael Greenstone and Christopher Knittel, in an article for the Journal of Economic Perspectives, estimate that at the current battery cost of $270 per kwh, oil would have to cost more than $300 a barrel​ (in 2020 dollars) to make electric and gasoline equally attractive. If battery costs fall to $100, as Tesla Founder Elon Musk has targeted, oil would have to average $90. . .

This is particularly important:

A Tesla that spontaneously combusted–on a test drive.

Tesla will find plenty of wealthy niche buyers for its high-priced cars once it exhausts its credits. But for electric vehicles as a whole, hybrids have a sobering lesson. From 2005 to 2010, some hybrid buyers enjoyed a $3,500 tax credit. Sales kept rising after the credit expired, peaking at 487,000, or 3.1% of total vehicles, in 2013, according to Edmunds.com, when gasoline averaged $3.51 a gallon. A surge in oil supply, thanks to fracking, caused gasoline prices to plummet to $2.36 a gallon this year, and hybrids’ market share has dropped to just 2.1%. . .

Hybrids tend to cost more than the conventionally powered vehicles they mimic, and are more electronically and mechanically complex, which must inevitably increase the frequency and cost of maintenance and repair.

Electric vehicles are meant to be recharged at night. Economists Joshua Graff  Zivin, Matthew Kotchen  and Erin Mansur note in a 2014 article in the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization that night is when electricity is most likely to come from burning coal. They estimate electric vehicles account for more carbon dioxide per mile than existing cars in the upper Midwest, where coal-fired plants are more prevalent, and more than comparable hybrids in most of the country.

The SanFrancisco Chronicle can be depended upon for EV boosterism: 

It’s time to be even more aggressive,’ Ting said. ‘The reason we’re doing this now is there really hasn’t been electric vehicles for the mass market before. Most (electric vehicles) get 80 miles, and even if you live in San Francisco and you’ve got a 30-mile commute, you can get range anxiety pretty quickly.’

California has set ambitious goals for slashing its greenhouse gas emissions and has stuck to those goals even as the federal government under President Trump moves to gut federal climate-change efforts.

State law calls for cutting greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. That can’t happen, however, unless drivers switch to cleaner cars.

Transportation accounts for 37 percent of all the state’s greenhouse gas emissions, more than any other sector of the economy.

“There’s no way to meet our climate goals without dramatically reducing emissions from transportation,” said Don Anair, deputy director of the clean vehicles program at the Union of Concerned Scientists public policy group. ‘We’re not going to get there by continuing to burn oil in our cars.’

Gov. Jerry Brown wants 1.5 million electric cars on the state’s roads by 2025.

I’m sure Governor Moonbeam does. Here’s an example of California thinking:

Ting just bought a Bolt, which he can drive from San Francisco to Sacramento and back on a single charge (although he usually tops off the battery at work). ‘This is a major shift,’ he said. ‘Now you have cars that fit most consumers’ needs.

Perhaps these needs may be met if most consumers are upper-middle class—or wealthier–state legislators with plenty of disposable income. But for the average person struggling to make ends meet in California—actually, anywhere–to say nothing of the working poor, particularly those with larger families, the Bolt will likely be seen, if thought of at all, as something other than “a major shift.” And $90,000 dollar Teslas? Right.

While EV range is gradually increasing, that’s not the only factor involved in EV ownership. Cold weather will always be damaging to EV sales, and it’s unlikely, absent a truly ground-breaking breakthrough in battery capacity and performance, that charging times will be reduced to a level that can hope to compare with a stop at a gas station, even if a charger is available where and when one needs one. Perhaps Tony Stark will give away his Arc reactor technology, but until then, the “major shift” will be in improved transmissions, electronics, software and mileage for conventionally powered vehicles. EVs will continue, for the most part, to be virtue-signaling tools for the well off.