Friday, January 20, 2012

EV Proponents Have More Work To Do

Europe ain't so smart after all. From the National Legal and Policy Center:

The Daily Mail reported that sales of electric cars in the United Kingdom have fallen so sharply that there are now more charging stations than there are vehicles. If you thought the flaccid U.S. sales of the Chevy Volt (7,671 units) and Nissan Leaf (9,674 units) were a letdown – despite significant government funding for research and development, batteries, charging systems, and a $7,500 tax credit for buyers – the signs from Europe won’t lift spirits.

“Just 2,149 electric cars have been sold since 2006, despite a government scheme last year offering customers up to £5,000 (about $7,700 U.S. dollars) towards the cost of a vehicle,” the U.K. newspaper reported. “The Department for Transport says that around 2,500 charging points have been installed, although their precise location is not known.”

That’s just 430 cars sold per year. In addition, Britain has spent £30 million on charging points for public and business locations, and EV buyers have taken advantage of only £3.9 million of the £300 million in government grants made available for EV purchases, according to The Daily Mail.
Common sense should dictate, after looking at such startling figures, that it is time for governments around the world to end their intrusion into the automobile industry. Should, it seems, is an odd word.

What wisdom that will be gleaned instead from this phenomenon, of course, is that governments have not yet done enough to promote electric vehicles.

Doing more will be accomplished in multiple ways, but their strategic points will fall within two major strategies. First, more must be done to positively encourage consumers toward an EV purchase, such as the $7,500 per unit credit being offered in the US (a credit being used by consumers with an average income of about $170,000) and secondly, by punishing consumers into modified behaviors. This latter strategy includes government policies that would include promoting high fuel costs and discouraging travel.

It is being celebrated today that gasoline consumption in the US has gone down in the past few years, perhaps in part to the 8,000 Chevy Volts sold so far in the US, and complemented by the odd couple thousand purchased by Brits. More likely it is the economy crippling initiatives promoted by governments that have had more to do with falling gasoline consumption--of which the EV is a storied poster child.

All it really took was several years of economic stagnation, nearly ten percent unemployment, and a booming number of citizens on food stamps to force gasoline consumption down. This may not be too high a price for the enlightened to pay for what they deem a cleaner environment based on flimsy evidence, but it is a heady price for those of us to pay who happen to suffer at their whim of the more enlightened in Europe and elsewhere.

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