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History and Science Should Negate EV Mandate

By: Jane Brady, Chair, A Better Delaware

We at A Better Delaware have been clear about our opposition to Governor Carney’s electric vehicle (EV) mandate. Whether it is where you have to send your child to school or what type of vehicle you are “allowed” to drive, we don’t believe government should impose artificial restrictions on our choices as consumers. Additionally, as a practical matter, the mandate fails to account for the high cost of the vehicles, the shortage of charging stations, the limited range EVs can go on a single charge and the dangerous circumstances that these vehicles present on the road when they malfunction or are involved in collisions. There are claims that all these challenges will be met and EVs will be affordable, safe, and convenient “in time.”

Well, not so fast – in fact, not so 100 years fast!! Robert Bryce, a journalist who has written about energy issues for several decades and formerly served as a Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, has done some research, and written a well-documented article on the history of EVs. What he reports will cause you to wonder about the prospect of electric vehicles ever meeting the government’s projections.

According to Bryce, as early as 1915 (yes, you read that correctly), the Washington Post reported, “prices on electric cars will continue to drop until they are within reach of the average family.” In 1967, the American Motors Corporation (AMC – remember them, and the Rambler?) unveiled the Amitron, an all-electric vehicle with lithium and nickel batteries, which never went beyond the prototype stage due to “several technical issues and the high cost of battery production at the time”, according to autoevolution,com.

And, in 1980, the Washington Post wrote that by 2000, the electric car “could play a big role …in delivery trucks and two passenger urban commuter cars”, predicting a savings of a million barrels of oil a day with aggressive production.

This history serves to emphasize just how much the current optimism that electric vehicles will soon be competitive in the marketplace is at odds with the reality. The only difference between 1915 or 1980 and today is that the government is using its power to force manufacturers, dealers, and buyers of cars to follow their mandates.

As we and many others have demonstrated with facts and science, the EV models offered today are not commercially viable to the vast majority of consumers in this country. Although scientists and salesmen have been unable to produce a commercially viable electric vehicle in 100 years, government policy is to force us to buy whatever might be available, suitable or not, in 10.

But, if the government is serious about converting the fleets of cars and trucks in the US to electric, they are not acting in ways that make it feasible.

As reported by CNBC, the US led the world in lithium production until the 1990s but today China, our largest economic competitor, not only Is a source of lithium, but controls about half the processing and refining worldwide. Did the US run out of lithium? No, there are tons of it, in Utah in particular. But the regulatory restrictions make continuing production, mining, or refining so expensive there is no incentive to take the risks associated with a commercial enterprise.

Citing the regulatory requirements, among other factors, one company just suspended operations at a site near the Great Salt Lake after investing tens of millions of dollars in the project.

Much like the decisions regarding oil and gas, we are prohibiting our country from enjoying not only energy independence, but economic independence as well. We are required to enrich those who would welcome our decline because we restrict access to our own natural resources and purchase theirs.

And it is not just EVs. Cell phones, the new Apple Vision goggle, and the knock offs that will inevitably come to market, all depend on natural resources we could, but don’t, provide for ourselves. We are content to leave the mining, manufacturing, refining and the related environmental concerns to other countries. It is a short-sighted plan that does not create a stronger or more sustainable economy.

Governor Carney needs to pay attention to the history of EV evolution, the lack of success in furthering development of a commercially feasible vehicle, and the consequences of a mandate to purchase a product that enriches our economic competitors. He should lift the mandate restrictions and allow Delawareans to choose how they wish to travel and allow the market to provide the incentives to develop consumer choices.

Jane Brady serves as Chair of A Better Delaware. She previously served as Attorney General of Delaware and as a Judge of the Delaware Superior Court.