October 17, 2021

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Electric vehicle subsidies would benefit the wealthy | EDITORIAL

According to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center, 39 percent of Americans say they are “likely to consider” buying an electric car as their next vehicle. Will they follow through? More than a decade after the first Tesla Roadsters were delivered to customers, electric vehicles account for only about 3 percent of U.S. auto sales.

President Joe Biden hopes to goose that number to 50 percent by 2030 with a predictable tactic: handouts to buyers.

Included in the massive and irresponsible $3.5 trillion Democratic spending proposal is a provision to subsidize electric car sales by $12,500 per purchase. Electric vehicles are more expensive than traditional cars and trucks, so administration officials figure that direct subsidies for consumers and de facto subsidies for automakers will solve the problem.

According to a recent poll by CBS News, cost is the No. 1 reason why Americans won’t buy an electric vehicle, followed by concerns that there aren’t enough charging stations and that plug-ins don’t go far enough to meet their needs.

In response, Democrats and the administration propose extending and expanding the current tax credit for such purchases — a great deal of which will end up in the accounts of wealthier Americans — while also subsidizing the creation of a nationwide government-run network of EV charging stations. Imagine if Washington owned all the country’s gasoline stations.

Per the bill in the House, the proposal excludes sedans costing more than $55,000, SUVs with a sticker price greater than $69,000 and trucks above $74,000 — although those limits apply only to a few vehicles. Meanwhile, couples making up to $800,000 — and individuals up to $400,000 — would be eligible for the handout.

Fittingly, Democrats have used the giveaways as a means of lining the pockets of their benefactors in Big Labor. The credit would rise, the Wall Street Journal notes, for EVs produced at facilities “under a union-negotiated collective bargaining agreement.” It would also increase if a plug-in’s battery cells are made in the United States. As the Journal explains, the Democrats want to help their United Auto Workers friends organize Tesla and foreign-owned plants.

This is bad policy. We’ll put aside the rarely discussed reality that hitting a 50 percent market share for EVs will require the extraction of more minerals for battery production than Democrats and U.S. environmentalists will ever tolerate. If EVs are the wave of the future, let them compete rather than providing handouts to automakers and consumers in order to manipulate the marketplace in the name of green edicts issued by Biden administration central planners.

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