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The EPA’s mileage standards are a secret mandate for electric vehicles

Under the pretext of regulating greenhouse gas emissions, the Environmental Protection Agency recently announced new, stricter fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks. The new standards affect vehicles from the 2023 model year onwards, and 2026 vehicles must achieve a fleet-wide average of 55 miles per gallon, an increase of more than 35% over the current 40 mpg standard for 2021, which is even stricter standards for 2027 models and beyond.

Automakers say the new standards cannot be met without further government subsidies for electric vehicles and charging infrastructure. The EPA predicts that a automaker can meet the standards by 2026 when electric vehicles make up about 17% of its sales.

The real purpose of higher fuel efficiency standards is to enforce a legal mandate for electric vehicles, as the likelihood of Congress passing laws banning the sale of internal combustion engine vehicles is unlikely.

Meeting the new standards will be a challenge for automobile manufacturers. In the first nine months of 2021, 460,000 electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids were sold across the United States. Sales in California, backed by government subsidies, made up nearly half of that. Compare this with Ford Motor Co.

sold approximately 535,000 pickup trucks in the same nine-month period.

Proponents of electric vehicles cite the lack of charging infrastructure as the main reason for consumers’ reluctance to buy electric vehicles, but other economic factors also contribute to this reluctance.

Start with the cost. Electric vehicles are more expensive than vehicles with a combustion engine. The average electric vehicle sold for about $ 56,000 in September – $ 11,000 more than the average internal combustion engine. Electric vehicle prices have gone up, not down, as many proponents had predicted. Tesla, which accounts for more than half of all electric car sales, raised prices on some of its models three times this year. The worldwide growing sales of electric vehicles and delivery bottlenecks lead to rising material prices. The price of lithium, a key component of EV batteries, has increased 240% this year.

Many consumers also don’t seem to want what electric vehicles have to offer. Pickup trucks are by far the most popular vehicles sold in the United States. Ford and Tesla plan to start selling a battery-powered pickup truck next year, but it’s not clear if many consumers will buy them. And those trucks get expensive: about $ 40,000 each for the simplest models, about $ 10,000 more than the simplest gasoline-powered trucks.

In real-world conditions, the distance that an electric vehicle can cover on a single charge is often much less than stated. Batteries function poorly in extreme cold and reduce performance by up to 40%. Extreme heat will reduce battery performance by around 20%. Pulling heavy loads will also reduce the range of the battery. For those who drive hundreds of miles every day, as some rural consumers do, it is impractical to spend hours charging an electric vehicle. It’s not even possible when storms cause power outages.

There’s also a physical trade-off between battery life and charging speed. It is best to charge batteries slowly. DC chargers that can fully charge an electric vehicle in an hour or less shorten battery life because the high current increases the battery temperature. Although all batteries degrade over time – another problem with electric vehicles that proponents often ignore – fast charging has been shown to degrade battery performance faster.

Proponents claim that increasing subsidies for electric vehicles will lower costs for consumers. But much like colleges increase tuition costs when the government offers more scholarships and student loans, subsidies for buying electric vehicles act as an incentive for manufacturers to raise their prices and use the subsidies for themselves. That’s basic economics.

More electric vehicles would also increase the demand for electricity and drive up the price. This would decrease the benefits of owning an electric vehicle and increase the financial damage to low-income consumers who cannot afford a car. The EPA’s new dictation will also encourage consumers to drive their current, more polluting internal combustion engine vehicles for longer, rather than replacing them with more expensive vehicles that are subject to higher fuel efficiency standards.

In terms of supposed reductions in air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, new electric vehicles cause more air pollution than new internal combustion engine vehicles based on the average mix of electricity generating resources in the country. And even if all of the electricity used to charge electric vehicles comes from emission-free sources, the resulting reduction in carbon dioxide emissions would have no measurable impact on the global climate.

The EPA’s new rule harms consumers and does little, if at all, to the environment. This is the reality of the environmental policy signaling virtue that the current government imposes.

Mr. Lesser is President of Continental Economics and Adjunct Fellow of the Manhattan Institute.

The current surge in inflation is no coincidence. It is the result of a ruthless policy that cuts off the supply of goods and services – especially energy. Pictures: Reuters / AFP / Getty Images Composite: Mark Kelly

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