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The Electric Cars Have Already Won!

I am a staunch supporter of electric cars. In my mind, they have already won the technological war against gas buggies. They are powerful, quick, fun to drive, loaded with technology, and much cheaper to own and operate than comparable gas cars. I drive a Nissan Rogue as my gas buggy and a Kia Niro as my EV, so I can directly compare them.

The only problem is that EVs can't do everything and, as a result, are only suitable for those with modest needs or as a second car. What can't they do, you ask? Trips of 1000 miles or more and electric cars are unsuitable for anyone without dedicated parking with electricity.

If you only need limited range local driving (about 200 miles or so per day) and have a garage where you can charge it at home, then an EV is perfect for you. On the other hand, if you need to drive long distances or must park on the street, then not so much. For example, I drove to LA two weeks ago for my brother's wedding. The 800+ mile round-trip was a total non-starter for the EV but a breeze in the gas buggy.

The most significant value proposition for EVs comes when you charge them at home using off-peak electricity and depart your home daily with a "full tank." On the other hand, charging an EV on the road is much more expensive and time-consuming because the charging infrastructure is wholly inadequate for the job.

Our government is pushing a massive $7.5B infrastructure bill to address this lack. But unfortunately, this idea has real problems, as (a) politically connected cronies will grab all the money and spend it on whatever they please. As a result, (b) there will be few chargers built, fewer will work, and the chargers won't be maintained.

I am opposed to any plan which involves handing out government funds to build chargers. All that will do is enrich political cronies and result in many more broken or never even installed chargers.

Stock photo of a Kia Niro similar to the one I drive.

Meanwhile, EV opponents will still cry for EV users to pay "their fair share" of road taxes (even though EV users pay "their fair share" in EV-penalizing licensing fees), and in the end, that $7.5B will go to waste.

Instead of a government bureaucracy mindlessly throwing away money on a solution that won't work, I would offer TWO incentives to ANY business, vendor, convenience store, apartment house, or gas station.

  1. A highly favorable depreciation allocation for capital expenditures on installing charging equipment.

  2. A rebate on every kWh delivered to a vehicle thru this equipment. The refund would start at slightly ABOVE the cost of electricity, initially, perhaps as much as 110% of the cost (Yeah, an actual income that will provide an incentive to keep those things working), and annually decline until it reaches zero over a favorable timeframe, say five years.

The first would cause capital to be raised and spent, and the second would ensure that the chargers work, which is a big problem with electric chargers today. Many places have them, but they are perennially broken and inaccessible.

I would pay for these programs and address the "fair share of road taxes" issue by leveraging a small cents per kWh "infrastructure fee" on each kWh delivered through this network. Therefore, like we do today for gasoline, tax the "fuel" and use this to replace the EV penalizing license fees, which I would outlaw.

This article in today's WSJ underscores the problems EV adoption faces. A great, fun read. Recommended.

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