It’s Time To Unplug The Hype Over Electric Vehicles | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED

It’s Time To Unplug The Hype Over Electric Vehicles

For more than a century, the promise of electric vehicles (EVs) has been parked just beyond the nearest traffic light. In 1901, the Los Angeles Times declared “The electric automobile will quickly and easily take precedence over all other” types of motor vehicles. "If the claims which Mr. Edison makes for his new battery be not overstated, there is not much doubt that it will make a fortune for somebody.”

In 1911, The New York Times declared that the EV “has long been recognized as the ideal solution” because it “is cleaner and quieter” and “much more economical.” And yet today, 110 years after EVs were dubbed the Next Big Thing, they account for just 2% of new car sales in the U.S.

Yes, EVs are cool. And yes, sales of Teslas and other all-electric cars are rising at a fast clip. But despite lots of government push, there still isn’t enough consumer pull. Indeed, the history of the electric car is a century of failure tailgating failure.

Consider California. In 1990, state regulators mandated 10% of the cars sold in the state be zero-emission vehicles by 2003. The state now offers up to $7,000 in rebates to EV buyers. In addition, EV drivers can use California’s HOV lanes even if they have only one person in their car. Despite these incentives, only about 6% of the cars in California today have an electric plug.

Federal policymakers are ignoring California’s failure to jump-start widespread EV adoption. Earlier this month, the House of Representatives passed an infrastructure bill that included $36.6 billion in funding for EV charging networks and electrification of transportation.

As I explained in my June 30 testimony before the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, I’m pro-electricity. Over the past 16 months, I’ve published a book (A Question of Power: Electricity and the Wealth of Nations) and co-produced a feature-length documentary (Juice: How Electricity Explains the World) both of which spotlight the essentiality of electricity. I also launched the Power Hungry Podcast which focuses largely on electricity, nuclear energy, and the electric grid.