Electric car scheme squanders nine figures' worth of taxpayer dollars
Yet another bankruptcy emerges from the green subsidies handed out by federal, state, and local authorities, wasting an additional hundred million dollars-plus belonging to taxpayers. Like Solyndra, the newly bankrupt lithium ion battery maker Ener1 received top level attention from the Obama administration, and, of course, oodles of cash. Joel Gehrke write in the Washington Examiner:
Just as President Obama toured Solyndra LLC before that taxpayer-funded company declared bankruptcy, so Vice President Joe Biden gave a speech at Ener1, an electric car battery company that filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy today despite $118.5 million in stimulus money from the Department of Energy (DOE).
"We know what's coming -- you don't have to be a fortune-teller to see where the automobile industry has to go," Biden told Ener1 employees last year. "So why not? Why not have it made in America? That's why we went out there and came up with $2.4 billion for battery technology."
The basic problems with the electric car industry are so numerous it is hard to believe that anyone takes it seriously as an alternative to gasoline or diesel. First of all, where is the additional, generating capacity going to come from, to power the nation's vehicle fleet, or even a meaningful percentage of it? Not from windmills or solar panels, and coal, which still accounts for most of our electrical capacity, has the same CO2 and greater particulate emissions as gasoline. Moreover, because of inefficiencies in generating and transporting electricity, far more energy has to be consumed to power a car electrically than to produce the same amount of power on the spot, with an internal combustion engine.
Batteries are an intractable problem. Despite rosy-eyed predictions of progress in battery technology (implicitly relying on the semiconductor industry as an example of how far technology can advance), all known battery technologies are very limited in the amount of energy that can be stored, compared to the amount of energy a tank of gasoline can provide. Moreover, there is no reason to foresee a breakthrough new technology, and engineering cannot push existing technologies far enough to compete with gasoline in energy storage capacity within reasonable weight and volume constraints.
Electric cars have been around for a century. There is an good reason they have never taken over more than minor niches. Squandering government money on this technology is negligent at best.
It's time to pull the plug on electric car dreamers.
Hat tip: Peter von Buol