EV misinformation and the end of horse poo

What is happening with EVs?

There has been a lot of negative commentary about EVs lately — some of it filled with misinformation. Be wary of those who call themselves “independent consultants.”

It is well understood that most fossil fuel emissions are caused by the cars we drive and the heating and cooling of our homes. EVs have no emissions. As our utilities convert to renewable sources — PNM plans to be 70% emission-free by 2032 and 100% by 2040, those emissions will dramatically drop.

There is always resistance to new technology. There are always winners and losers. Approximately 100 years ago we rapidly switched from horses to gas powered automobiles. In the U.S. at the turn of the century, there were three times more horses than people. In urban areas, there was manure everywhere. Some areas had manure heaps the size of four-story buildings, attracting flies by the millions and spreading disease. Manure and urine contaminated drinking water. In the winter the dung turned to dust and was inhaled by city dwellers. Dead and abandoned horses were everywhere adding to horrific health issues. Yet thousands resisted, fearing change, loss of livelihoods and modernization.

Fossil fuel vehicle emissions are now a major cause of climate change that is threatening to make our planet uninhabitable. According to the EPA Green Vehicle Guide, the average U.S. passenger car emits 4.6 metric tons of carbon a year as well as methane and nitrous oxide. Every mile you drive your gas-powered vehicle spews out 8,887 grams of carbon dioxide. That is the equivalent of a lot of horse poo. You just can’t see it. You can smell it and it can make you sick. And in a confined space those fumes can kill you.

No one forced our ancestors to give up their horses and buggies. No one is forcing anyone to give up their fossil fuel vehicles. Most of us are approaching this transition gradually. My household has two hybrids. And we will convert, but not yet.

Like many of you we are waiting until there are more EV chargers. Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is going to build some 500,000 chargers. This rollout, which is handled mostly by state transportation officials, is moving far too slowly, but they are coming. And we will need more than 500,000.

The fact is that the sales of EVs in the U.S. are not declining but are growing fast. According to Washington Post reporter, Jeanne Whalen, “they are up more than 50% this year.” That growth rate is slower than some forecasts and there are numerous reasons. In addition to the slow rollout of EV chargers, EVs are still more expensive than fossil fuel vehicles. But those costs are dropping. Interest rates have been high, so the costs to finance or lease a new car have been high for all vehicles. HeatMap Newsletter says that if you look at actual sales data, there is no sign the growth in EVs in flagging. In fact, EVs and plug-ins had the strongest growth in the third quarter of 2023 and topped a million sales.

No major producer is stepping away from EVs. “Our commitment to EV’s is as strong as ever,” GM CEO Mary Barra told analysts. The company plans to be 100% electric by 2035. And as Heatmap points out, the Big Three (GM, Ford, and Stellantis) all continue to plan multibillion dollar investments in new EV factories and models.

The Biden administration said it wants half of all new vehicle sales to be EVs by 2030. That could happen if we see more progress on charging availability. Mark Z. Jacobson, a renewable energy expert at Stanford, says buyers need more information on the cost savings of going electric. “Given that driving an electric vehicle saves the average driver about $20,000-$30,000 over 15 years in fuel savings alone, I think the only thing holding back consumer demand is lack of information about this,” he said. Tesla says EVs use .25 Kwh per mile. PNM charges 6 cents per kwh.

Horses did not disappear overnight. It took decades. EV costs will continue to drop, as will interest rates. More EVs will be eligible for full rebates as our economy transforms with new battery technologies and EV components are built and manufactured here. Soon more of us will have EVs parked in our driveways and EV chargers in our garages and our neighborhoods. And there will be a lot less fossil fuel poo.

Published on January 8, 2024, in the Albuquerque Journal.

© Judith Polich. All Rights Reserved. May be republished with author’s written consent and proper attribution.

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