The media will ride just about any transportation fad that they believe sticks it to Big Oil (and get behind just about every government subsidy and expenditure that ostensibly helps the environment), and electric cars have been no exception. But some journalists are concluding that the massive amounts of government spending on electric cars and hybrid plug-ins might not have been worth the costs.
Three months back, one of those television news “I-teams,” this one in Boston, found that the state of Massachusetts is wasting millions on electric car programs. The I-team reported that “the (Gov. Charlie) Baker administration is committing $20 million for all electric vehicle programs.”
Then just this week, a Washington Post opinion writer asked if all the dollars “the government has spent a lot on electric cars ” were worth it.
Neither the I-team nor Post opinion writer Charles Lane came right out and said that government has frittered away large sums on money on promoting a technology that isn’t ready. But we will: The government’s effort to put us in electric and hybrid cars has been a colossal waste of resources.
In 2010, President Obama said he wanted America to have 1 million electric cars on the road by 2015. But as Lane points out, automakers have sold only 407,136 electric cars “since they hit the market in 2010.”
“That is 0.16% of the 250 million-plus U.S. passenger vehicle fleet. Assuming all are still on the road, carmakers must sell 300,000 this year and next to reach 1 million, or 0.3% of the fleet, by 2018.”
That’s not likely to happen.
The dearth of electric cars on our roads was underscored by the Boston I-team, which dutifully staked out “a state-subsidized charging station” at a busy shopping plaza for 10 hours. In all that time, only a single car owner pulled in for a charge.
“I haven’t been here and found anybody else ever using them,” the driver said.
That’s because, as the I-teamers reported, “cars that rely on electricity in any form now make up about only 3% of vehicles on the road. That’s the smallest share in four years.”
Government can’t make Americans like cars that have the range of a long electrical cord. And it has no business trying. But small things such as the likely prospects of policy failure and constitutional limits on government never stop the behemoth.