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June 11, 2024

Biden the Benevolent EV Mandater

Joe Biden makes it look like he’s easing off of onerous regulations in the face of slumping sales.

A saying popularized by minister and self-help author Norman Vincent Peale went like this: “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land amongst the stars.”

This saying seems to have been taken to heart by the Biden administration, which regularly floats draconian trial balloons to make the actual result more palatable. The latest case in point is the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (better known as CAFE) standards that Biden promised to increase by 2031 to an eye-popping 55.7 miles per gallon (MPG) for light-duty cars and 52 MPG for light-duty trucks. Team Biden reduced the numbers slightly in the finalized rules, but as Jazz Shaw at Hot Air argues, “New American cars currently average roughly 39 miles per gallon, so that would represent an increase of twelve mpg (nearly one-third) in just seven years. That is simply insane. Most auto producers either won’t be able to hit those numbers or they will have to increase the cost of the vehicles to ludicrous levels to make it happen.”

Instead, as Brianne Deppisch in the Washington Examiner states, the Biden administration is “easing off its initial proposals to better reflect the state of U.S. auto sales and the slower-than-expected pace of electric vehicle adoption.”

It’s a slower-than-expected pace alright — perhaps not as glacial as the “pathetic” buildout of the federal government’s promise to increase the number of publicly available EV charging stations to 500,000 (total number built is seven), but still slow. Despite all that, we will get EVs whether we like them or not: they’re being boosted by other EPA rules on tailpipe emissions our Thomas Gallatin wrote about a couple of months ago.

Perhaps the biggest problem EV sellers have, though, is competition: Tesla produced 10.7% more models than it sold in the first quarter, part of a 9% year-over-year drop in overall sales. And Ford, while crowing about a 65% increase in sales between hybrid and EV models in May, still only saw those vehicles contribute 14% to its overall numbers. Remember, Ford was losing $132,000 for each EV sold in the first quarter, so despite the increased sales, it’s a long way from EV profitability. Aside from Tesla and a couple other manufacturers who specialize in EVs, major automakers haven’t seen their EV sales catch fire — in fact, Toyota Chairman Akio Toyoda predicted recently that EVs will never make up more than 30% of the world market.

On the other hand, China’s BYD nameplate is rivaling Tesla for global sales leadership, and that’s without the U.S. market to boost it. As Elon Musk told financial analysts back in January, “If there are no trade barriers established, they will pretty much demolish most other car companies in the world. They’re extremely good.” Even Warren Buffett believes it, as he’s an investor in BYD.

In essence, what the Biden administration has done is the old bait-and-switch: bring up highly punitive goals to make things look better when the “compromise” — which is still much more stringent than the current rules — is put into force. Jazz Shaw had the real reason, though, calling out The New York Times: “When reporting on this story, the New York Times said the quiet part out loud in their headline and let the cat out of the green energy bag. The title currently reads, ‘U.S. Tightens Car Mileage Rules, Part of Strategy to Fight Climate Change.’ But that’s not what the original title said. The more honest version … read, ‘Biden Administration Tightens Mileage Standards to Buoy E.V.s.’ That’s a pretty massive change to a title, isn’t it? That was the honest reason, of course, but apparently someone at the Times saw it and freaked out because you can’t just go around telling the truth like that.”

The EV market has fully penetrated its most willing segment: upper-crust elites who feel the need to virtue signal. They live in areas where EVs can be readily charged for their commute to work. But most Americans don’t really feel like paying more for an EV, worrying about how they would have to upgrade their electrical service to install a home charging station, or fretting about finding available public charging stations in adverse conditions on a long trip. (Seven charging stations is a long, long way from a half-million.) Aside from ever-increasing prices at the pump, drivers are happy filling up their F-150 or Tacoma at the local gas station and going where they want to go.

Wanna bet a second Biden term will have another “cash for clunkers” program to try and take those pesky internal combustion engines off the road? I know — don’t give them any bright ideas.

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