If you’re wondering why Democrats are feeling a bit of buyer’s remorse about President Joe Biden, consider that gas prices are skyrocketing and he has a) an energy secretary who doesn’t know how many barrels of oil we produce in a day and b) a transportation secretary telling Americans they wouldn’t have to worry about gas prices anymore if they just bought an electric vehicle.
At least when Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm made her blunder, she wasn’t being talked about as a presidential candidate. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, on the other hand, is being not-so-secretly floated as a Plan B to replace Biden if he’s not healthy enough to make another run at the presidency in 2024 and Vice President Kamala Harris is still terminally toxic.
I’m not sure who Plan C is, but they might want to tell them to start warming up in the bullpen.
This weekend, Buttigieg appeared on MSNBC’s “Sunday Show with Jonathan Capehart” to tell middle Americans they would “never have to worry about gas prices again” if they would buy an electric vehicle, adding that the Democrats’ proposed spending bill would make it more affordable for them.
“The people who stand to benefit most from owning an EV are often rural residents who have the longest distances to drive, they burn the most gas, and underserved urban residents in areas where there are high gas prices and they are lower income,” Buttigieg said.
“So they would gain the most by having that vehicle. But these are the very residents who have not always been connected to electric vehicles that are viewed as kind of a luxury item.
“If we can make an electric vehicle less expensive for everybody, more people can take advantage, and we’ll be selling more American-made EVs, which means over time they’ll become less expensive to make and to buy for everybody.”
The spending bill, Buttigieg said, contains “up to a $12,500 discount” for families who want to buy an electric vehicle.
Just out of curiosity, was prep for the interview conducted by Kamala Harris? “Don’t worry, Pete. Heartland America’s going to love you if you clue them in to the fact they’ll never have to worry about gas prices again if you just buy an electric car. Thank me later. … Of course I’m happy about all the attention you’ve been getting! Look, if I can’t be president, you’re the person I want to see in the Oval Office.”
As you’ve probably guessed, there are, um, problems with this, and not just because it’s patronizing and tone-deaf.
The New York Post noted that the average Kelly Blue Book cost of a new electric vehicle is $55,676. A new compact car, meanwhile, stands at less than half of that — $25,240. Even if the Democrats shove $12,500 at American car buyers, that still means that for most families, the cost EV goes from really, really unaffordable to just really unaffordable.
No matter how much the federal government subsidizes it, there’s still a significant gulf between the cost of a gas-powered vehicle and its EV equivalent.
Let’s also consider, too, that a home charging kit costs, on average, over $1,000. Without one, an EV doesn’t make much sense, cost-wise.
Even with one, you’re probably not saving money. How much an EV costs versus how much a gasoline-powered car costs isn’t an easy question to answer.
A 2018 University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute study found the average EV cost $485 a year to operate against $1,117 for a gas-powered car. Almost no one would recoup the upfront costs of buying an EV, in other words.
And those costs — as well as the environmental costs of EVs, for that matter — are still tied to fossil fuels, as many Twitter users pointed out.
“You realize that, even if it’s fully electric, you’re still beholden to the price of fossil fuels, right? IT JUST RUNS ON TWO DIFFERENT KINDS OF FOSSIL FUEL,” journalist Emily Zanotti noted.
You realize that, even if it’s fully electric, you’re still beholden to the price of fossil fuels, right? IT JUST RUNS ON TWO DIFFERENT KINDS OF FOSSIL FUEL. https://t.co/zvyCXFXNWk
— Emily Zanotti (@emzanotti) November 29, 2021
Buttigieg’s underestimation of the costs of EV ownership rankled others.
“The median household income in my district is around $56,000,” GOP Illinois Rep. Mary Miller tweeted. “The average cost of an electric car is $55,000. How much more out of touch can these people get?”
The median household income in my district is around $56,000
The average cost of an electric car is $55,000
How much more out of touch can these people get? https://t.co/LJHpX5GMn7
— Mary Miller (@Miller_Congress) November 29, 2021
And then there’s the fact that, like it or not, you still have to worry about gas prices no matter what you drive.
“Imagine being so out of touch that you think spending tens of thousands more on an electric car is easy for most people. 78% of EV subsidies go to those making six figures,” GOP Rep. Dan Crenshaw of Texas tweeted, before noting: “And the rest of us still worry about gas prices, because gas affects the cost of literally everything.”
Imagine being so out of touch that you think spending tens of thousands more on an electric car is easy for most people. 78% of EV subsidies go to those making six figures.
And the rest of us still worry about gas prices, because gas affects the cost of literally everything. https://t.co/mfwQzWiYEf
— Dan Crenshaw (@DanCrenshawTX) November 29, 2021
Yes, you can drive yourself to Whole Foods in your Tesla and trick yourself into thinking your car was powered by magic. The organic broccoli has to get there somehow, too — and it’ll be taken there by a petroleum-powered vehicle.
It’s not that this logic escaped your sociology-grad nephew who was arguing for the Biden administration’s EV spending spree over Thanksgiving dinner. It escaped the Biden administration’s transportation secretary.
For those looking to explain why this administration is failing in just one sound bite, they could do a lot worse than this.
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