New York Sen. Chuck Schumer has proposed a law requiring every car in America to be electric by 2040. Sorry, Senator — “not gonna happen,” to use President George H.W. Bush’s iconic phrase. And anyway, it wouldn’t begin to make a dent in carbon emissions.
The first problem is consumers don’t seem to want electric cars. And that’s no surprise — they’re more expensive. Batteries add about $12,000 to a typical car. That’s meaningful for all but the 1 percent.
Fact is, automobiles comprise the biggest share of household spending on consumables, twice that of health care. (Housing, a non-consumable, is the biggest.) So, yes, people care about price, and lawmakers ignore that at their peril.
Americans also care about what they get for their money, so suggestions that automakers “decontent” EVs to cut costs — that is, take out all the features that people like — is another non-starter.
Consider, too, that SUVs and pickups now account for 70 percent of all vehicles purchased. And the minority who buy purely for economy choose small cars with gasoline engines. That’s the reality of what Americans want.
Mark P. Mills is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a faculty fellow at Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering, and author of the recent report, “The ‘New Energy Economy’: An Exercise in Magical Thinking.” This piece was adapted from City Journal. Follow him on Twitter here.
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