New York: Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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Politics: Ev Pushing Joe Biden Knows Gas Powered Cars Are Still Tops

POLITICS: EV-pushing Joe Biden knows gas-powered cars are still tops

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One of Joe Biden’s notable digressions when getting deposed by special counsel Robert Hur was about driving his beloved 1967 Corvette Stingray convertible

Which wasn’t surprising — the president genuinely loves his car.

And why not? It’s a thing of beauty and, for its time, was a splendid feat of engineering.

A paradox of the Biden administration is that the old-school car enthusiast is — in the name of the future and saving the planet — waging a war on the internal-combustion-engine cars that he so admires and that have helped define American life over the last 100 years. 

The internal-combustion-engine automobile ranks as one of the modern world’s most transformative innovations.

Prior to the advent of trains, travel by land was an absolute misery, even for the wealthy and privileged.

Then the car, in effect, took the train and put it in the hands of individuals. 

It was a revolutionary leap ahead for personal freedom and mobility.

It changed where we live (catalyzing the growth of the suburbs) and how we work (making it easier to commute).

It obviously made it possible to go more places and gave rise to new types of business catering to a newly footloose population, including motels and fast-food restaurants.

It knit the country together via a road network that facilitated untold economic activity and created the auto-manufacturing industry, as well as industries providing parts and fuel for cars. 

To an unusual extent, people feel bonded to their cars.

There are car enthusiasts but not enthusiasts for other 20th-century implements that changed our way of life.

No one speaks wistfully of the refrigerator they owned 40 years ago or reads fan magazines devoted to plumbing.

Even for consumers who aren’t car devotees, what to buy is an intensely personal decision; this is why there is a dizzying array of brands offering an immense range of choices. 

The Biden administration’s push to get people into electric vehicles is running directly into the chief advantage of internal-combustion-engine cars, which is the sheer convenience. 

People don’t really have “range anxiety,” the fear their electric vehicle will run out of its charge.

Electric cars have acquired more range now, and most people aren’t driving 300 miles in a single trip, regardless.

No, it’s the time it takes to charge an electric car compared with the ease of a trip to the gas station that is the issue. 

Gas stations already exist (about 145,000 of them with a million gas pumps), and no one had to subsidize their creation.

They are convenient and cost-effective and make economic sense. 

Making charging stations available on a comparable scale will present formidable obstacles.

As Mark Mills of the National Center for Energy Analytics points out in a paper on electric cars, transporting the large amounts of energy at the necessary scale using electric energy via wires and transformers is much more expensive than doing it with oil via pipelines and tanks.

Installing the superchargers necessary to make charging somewhat rapid — but still slower than gassing up — will require “a grid power demand comparable to a small town or steel mill.”

This isn’t to say electric cars aren’t attractive to some consumers, especially those with their own garages for overnight charging and the resources to spend on a fun, interesting second or third car.

Tesla has made major inroads in the upscale category. Good for it. More choice is better. 

An all-electric-car future is very far off, though, and internal-combustion-engine automobiles aren’t embarrassing artifacts of the past.

Their cost, convenience, reliability, and size — more than half of automobiles sold in America are SUVs — make them hugely appealing.

They are also getting constant upgrades.

According to Mills, since 1975, “the average automobile today has 100 more horsepower, weighs 1,000 pounds more, and has doubled in fuel efficiency.”

Joe Biden’s Corvette is now an antique, but the basic technology is as important, and incredibly user-friendly, as ever. 

Twitter: @RichLowry

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