Zero Sense: General Motors has given up on the free market. It now wants the federal government to force electric cars on the market and taxpayers to heavily subsidize them. GM (GM) should focus more on improving reliability than pleasing environmentalists.
In an op-ed published by USA Today, CEO Mary Barra says the federal government should impose a “National Zero Emissions Vehicle” program that will “move our country faster to an all-electric zero emissions future.”
The program, as envisioned by GM, would basically take California’s electric car mandate nationwide. It would require 7% of new cars sold to be electric in 2021 — less than three years from now. GM wants the mandate to increase each year, until it hits 25% by 2030.
As in California, carmakers would get credits for each EV car sold, and could buy and sell them with other automakers.
Barra also wants Congress to renew and expand the $7,500 refundable tax credit given to electric car buyers. Taxpayers have already forked over nearly $5 billion to subsidize the (mostly wealthy) electric car buyers. The credit is supposed to phase out once a carmaker sells 200,000 plug ins.
Barra says stopping the taxpayer subsidies “will stifle growth.”
In other words, Barra is flat out admitting that without federal mandates and massive tax subsidies, electric cars don’t have much of a future. Environmentalists might love them, but consumers clearly don’t.
And for good reason. As it stands, plug-ins are expensive and have a limited utility. They serve a niche market.
The tiny Chevy Bolt lists at $37,000, and can go only about 238 miles before requiring a 9-hour recharge. In the first nine months of this year, GM sold a total of 11,807 Bolts, which is down from last year. The company sold four times as many gas-guzzling Silverado trucks in one month.
Few Plug-In Sales
Overall, electric car sales accounted for just 1.5% of total car sales in the first half of this year, despite getting huge federal tax credits and additional credits available in many states.
By pushing this electric car mandate, GM is also selling the fiction that plug-in cars are “zero emissions.” They’re not.
As we noted in this space, when you consider what it takes to make battery powered cars, plus the fact that electricity production is not emission free, plug-in electrics can produce more CO2 emissions than gas-powered cars.
Of the 29 brands Consumer Reports ranked for reliability, not one of GM’s finished above 19th place. GM’s luxury Cadillac brand finished second to last.
GM might want to spend less time and energy trying to appease the car-hating environmentalist lobby, and more time building better cars. And then let customers, not the federal government, decide what kind of car to buy.
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