The Case for EV Freedom

by | Jun 28, 2024 | Technology

Government should remove all preferences for electric vehicles and allow them to compete and grow on a free market. This will enable EVs to reach their full potential to provide affordable, no-tailpipe-emissions transport without harming consumers or the grid.

EVs have generated excitement because they have some performance advantages and no tailpipe emissions. However, EVs aren’t currently cost-effective for most uses and face scalability issues with America’s inadequate grid and small-scale production of key EV materials. 1

Good EV policy vs Today’s anti-freedom EV policy

Good EV policy should unleash whatever potential EVs have to be a cost-effective, scalable alternative to internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, but not harm consumers or the grid by imposing EVs before they are truly cost-effective and scalable.

EVs get massive subsidies via tax credits (“Inflation Reduction Act”), which coerce drivers into using EVs even when they’re not truly cost-effective. And the EPA plans emissions regulations so strict that they would ban most ICE sales by 2032. 2

False rationale for EV preferences

Myth: Fossil fuels have created a “climate emergency” that can only be ended if we mass-adopt EVs.

Truth: Fossil fuels have created unprecedented climate safety with no need to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions—which scalability-challenged EVs can’t do anyway.3

America is not in a “climate emergency”. Rising CO2 levels are:

    • Not dire: Humans are safer from climate than ever.
    • Not temporary: They will rise for decades.
    • Not in our control: We emit 1/7 of CO2—and falling. 4

If we were in a climate emergency, forced EVs wouldn’t help much. With current “green” supply chain regulations pushing production abroad, any remotely cost-effective EV manufacturing can only happen in places with emissions-intensive production, like China. 5

While EVs have no tailpipe emissions, they leave the factory with higher emissions from their supply chain than ICEs. Whether they can catch up with an ICE vehicle of the same size depends on the electricity mix and battery lifetime. But the emissions are never close to zero. 6

Destructive consequences

EV preferences, by forcing us to use far more EVs than we otherwise would, when our grid and domestic supply chains are not ready, harm Americans via 1) an inferior product at cost to taxpayers, and 2) catastrophic electricity shortages.

  • An inferior productEven with massive EV preferences, only 7.6% of vehicles sold in 2023 were EVs—almost all from luxury brands like Tesla. Most poor and middle class Americans can’t afford to deal with EV cost, range, and inconvenience issues—and it’s immoral to force them to. 7
  • Catastrophic electricity shortagesAmerica is already in an electricity crisis, and planned EPA policies threaten to reduce reliable grid capacity 20% by 2030. Our government’s plan to mass-mandate electricity-hungry EVs would lead to a third-world grid.

CA is already having major problems with EV charging. On Aug 31, 2022, the CA grid operator urged consumers to cut electricity usage during a heatwave, including using less airconditioning(!) and refraining from “charging electric vehicles.” Imagine what would happen with over 50% EVs. 8

A new energy freedom policy

Myth: Without government EV preferences, we lose out on potential EV benefits such as low maintenance costs, lower overall costs, and lower urban air pollution.

Truth: EV freedom allows us to take advantage of any real EV benefits as and when they arise at scale.

Government should remove all preferences for electric vehicles and allow them to compete and grow on a free market. This will enable EVs to reach their full potential to provide affordable, no-tailpipe-emissions transport without harming consumers or the grid. Establish a truly free auto market by abolishing EV subsidies and other fuel subsidies.

  • End EV subsidies: Remove all EV tax credits
  • Prevent the EV mandate: Direct the EPA to cancel their proposed greenhouse gas standards that would de-facto ban most ICEs

If EVs compete on a truly free market, Americans will be free to drive whatever car they judge best for their needs. EV makers and supporters will be incentivized to actually deliver a superior product, including a grid with adequate electricity.

Steffen Henne and Michelle Hung contributed to this piece.

Notes

  1. Alex Epstein – Biden’s 67% EV policy: a dictatorial attack on the American driver and the US grid
  2. American Petroleum Institute – API: EPA Proposal a De Facto Ban on Gasoline Powered Cars and TrucksInternal Revenue Service – Credits for new clean vehicles purchased in 2023 or after
  3. Alex Epstein – Do Not Declare a “Climate Emergency”
  4. UC San Diego – The Keeling CurveFor every million people on earth, annual deaths from climate-related causes (extreme temperature, drought, flood, storms, wildfires) declined 98%–from an average of 247 per year during the 1920s to 2.5 per year during the 2010s.Data on disaster deaths come from EM-DAT, CRED / UCLouvain, Brussels, Belgium – www.emdat.be (D. Guha-Sapir).Population estimates for the 1920s from the Maddison Database 2010, the Groningen Growth and Development Centre, Faculty of Economics and Business at University of Groningen. For years not shown, population is assumed to have grown at a steady rate.

    Population estimates for the 2010s come from World Bank Data. Our World in Data – Annual CO₂ emissions by world region

  5. Mark P. Mills – Electric Vehicle IllusionsAlex Epstein – Every “net zero by 2050” myth, refuted
  6. Mark P. Mills – Electric Vehicle Illusions
  7. Institute for Energy Research – New Registrations of Gasoline Vehicles Are Still Growing Despite the EV PushCox Automotive – A Record 1.2 Million EVs Were Sold in the U.S. in 2023, According to Estimates from Kelley Blue Book
  8. Alex Epstein – Gavin Newsom’s 10 favorite myths about energy and climate, refutedCalifornia ISO – California ISO extends Flex Alert to Thursday, Sept. 1
Alex Epstein is a philosopher who applies big-picture, humanistic thinking to industrial and environmental controversies. He founded Center for Industrial Progress (CIP), a for-profit think tank and communications consulting firm focused on energy and environmental issues, in 2011 to offer a positive, pro-human alternative to the Green movement. He is the author of The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels and Fossil Future: Why Global Human Flourishing Requires More Oil, Coal, and Natural Gas—Not Less. He is the author of EnergyTalkingPoints.com featuring hundreds of concise, powerful, well-referenced talking points on energy, environmental, and climate issues. Follow him on Twitter @AlexEpstein.

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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