The EPA's War Against Cars

Americans justly love cars, for necessity, for pleasure, and everything in between. In all we drive more than three trillion miles per year, in 290 million registered cars, of which some 287 million are internal combustion engines. Today’s cars are without doubt among the most highly evolved, reliable, innovative and efficient forms of production ever witnessed. Exactly the prime target you would expect from the Biden administration.

The EPA has announced planned emission regulations that will end the U.S. automotive industry as we know it, while simultaneously forcing Americans into EV cars they manifestly do not want. The proposed regulations are being called “the single most important regulatory initiative by the Biden administration.” That claim alone should strike fear into every American household.

The EPA states that cars currently emit an average of 400 grams of CO2 per mile. The proposed regulations would reduce allowable CO2 emissions to 82g/mile by 2032. By the EPA’s own calculation, the only way to meet this standard is for U.S. auto companies to sell at least 67% of the entire fleet as electric vehicles. In sharpest contrast, electric car booster IEA forecasts that EV sales will account for a mere 20% of U.S. cars sales in 2030. And even that estimate is looking too optimistic based on recent events.

EV sales currently account for about 8% of U.S. new car sales, or less than 5% excluding California, even with mammoth subsidies of $7,500 per car, billions in incentives and tax credits to manufacturers to support lower sticker prices. Yet despite all, EVs are not selling as planned, as evidenced by excess inventories. With price cuts the Big Three are losing money on EVs hand over fist. Even Tesla, the only manufacturer other than Chinese BYD that can make sustainable profits on EVs, has seen its stock decline in the past two months by $240 billion, as investors recalibrate.

The reality that EVs are unwanted in mass numbers, too expensive and oversupplied is beginning to set in.

At the most fundamental level, the war against cars is insane. Transportation in all forms, which includes airplanes, trains, buses, trucks, pipelines, and cars, accounts for roughly 29% of U.S. CO2 emissions. Cars represents some 57% of U.S. transport and hence account for only 16% of emissions. And with U.S. emissions only 15% of the world total, U.S. cars represent less than 2.5% of global CO2 emissions.

If climate change means anything, it means global climate change. And even here, the gains from EVs are illusory, since electric generation in the U.S. is derived 60% from fossil fuels and there is no support to build low-cost, zero-emission nuclear power plants or even replace America’s 93 sunsetting facilities, which provide 18% of U.S. electricity. Environmentalist take note: your clean car is majority powered by “evil” fossil fuels.

When you look into the numbers, a worse story emerges. Of the three million EV cars of all type registered through 2022 in the U.S., California accounts for 42% of sales, meaning the remaining 49 states since inception have purchased a mere 1.7 million electric cars, of which 70% are all-electric (i.e., not hybrid), for a cumulative total of 1.2 million non-California BEVs. Based on this paltry record, the U.S. automakers have thrown their lot into an all-electric frenzy, most famously led by GM CEO Mary Barra, who has committed GM to selling 100% electric passenger cars by 2035.

In October 2023, the bandwagon took its first real hit from reality. GM pulled its guidance to build 600,000 EVs in the first half of 2024 and withdrew from a joint venture to make low-cost EVs with Honda. Ford went further, abandoning its 2026 goal to build two million EVs. Automakers worldwide are seeing EVs sell well below cost, even with subsidies, calling the EV landscape “brutal.”

It is relatively easy to see where the market is headed. Absent a nation-destroying mandate, the all-electric future will never happen. Leave aside the ecological disaster in mining and battery disposals. Leave aside the utter fantasy of nonexistent electrical generation, where California as always previews what is to come. By the state’s own reckoning, it would need to triple electric generation to meet its 2045 mandated car goals, adding a monumental and entirely unattainable six GW per year of new capacity, every year for the next 25 years, in a state that is retiring nuclear plants, where wind power globally is failing even faster than electric cars, leading to a $1 billion loss at GE this year and project cancellations worldwide, and there is no solution for solar transmission, storage, or intermittency.

The problem that dominates all is consumer demand. “We’re seeing the start of an overall market pushback against electric vehicle sales now that early adopters and environmentalist have their vehicles,” explained auto analyst Karl Brauer. “There seems to be a threshold of around 7%-10% before EV sales drastically slow down.” With $100 billion planned or committed in the U.S. EV market, due in large measure to the endlessly destructive Inflation Reduction Act, supply will ramp exactly as demand fails to materialize. Since no company can compete with Tesla or BYD’s cost structure, especially the Big Three, given their legacy cost structure and new UAW agreement, the bloodbath to come is inevitable.

Unsurprisingly, the real answer lies in the incredible internal combustion engine, which can be married perfectly to battery power today, for a hybrid and plug-in hybrid, and hydrogen fuel cells tomorrow. In any other world, the Toyota Prius would be a shining example of private sector innovation. Its plug-in hybrid can run 44 miles on battery, endlessly on gasoline, with 7.2 second 0-60 acceleration, resulting in EPA calculated 57 mpg efficiency, a scant 31 grams of CO2/mile, and zero need to recharge on the road. And that is today, with many advances to come.

Yet for his pursuit of a hybrid future, with battery EVs as a niche upmarket alternative, Chairman Akio Toyoda has been forced out as CEO for insufficient all-electric zealotry, while the Mary Barra’s of the auto world, meaning the entire club, are celebrated for their “bravery.” The October surprise finally gave lone wolf Mr. Toyoda his well-earned moment of recognition, “People are finally seeing reality.”

Yet here is the EPA, indifferent to facts, uncaring about Americans, unelected and unaccountable, marching us all toward automotive Armageddon. Cars represent freedom and are an absolute necessity in life. They are a metaphor for all that is wrong in this country, when government can set its sights on an indisputably well-functioning market, that gives us 1,300 model options, performance, low prices, safety, efficiency, continuous technological innovation, and yes, ultra-low emissions, and predetermine its destruction. It is well past time to fight back.

If nothing else is persuasive, consider the national security implications of entrusting our land transportation system to Chinese-controlled battery production, even as China marches to its promised goal of military superiority by 2050. Just recently visiting China, Governor Gavin Newsom, in pursuit of the presidency, put the Democrat view on open display, “The only way we can solve the climate crisis is to continue our long-standing cooperation with China.” There is nothing technocratic or neutral about the programmatic use of climate change to hollow out America, in favor, unbelievably, of the world’s greatest and most indifferent polluter.

And it will never end. Next comes gas stoves, pizza ovens, home temperature limits, the backyard barbecue, commercial airplane use, electric outages, meat consumption…

Image: National Archives

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