The Politics Of Electric Cars: Attacking Innovation For Partisan Gain

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To say there's lots of political posturing and wrangling around electric cars, plug-in vehicles, and the industry and infrastructure that supports them would be a gross understatement.

We get more than our share of it here at Green Car Reports.

And there are valid debates to be had over whether the Federal government should subsidize developing technologies that show promise in addressing big societal problems.

In the case of plug-in cars, those problems include dependency on oil, energy security, and climate change.

People of good faith can engage in respectful debates about those issues, but we would suggest that much of the media today isn't taking the time to do so.

Some portions of the media might even be suspected of pursuing a political agenda. See here, for example, or here.

Now WardsAuto writer Drew Winter has penned one of the most incisive summaries of the problem--and the threat it poses to U.S. technology and innovation--that we've seen.

We'll quote just two of his pithy sentences:

Unlike most countries, all new inventions in the U.S. are assigned a political party.


It would be fine if each party merely championed their respective interests for the common good, but partisans are determined to destroy each other’s innovations for political gain.

We strongly encourage you to read the entire piece on Wards.

Leave us your thoughts in the Comments below.

And, nicely done, Drew.


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Comments (19)
  1. Govt subsidies are not going to make the slightest difference in the future of electric cars. Those who beg for handouts are admitting (falsely) that the technology cannot stand on its own. Quite the contrary - the advantages of EVs don't require subsidies, which, by the way, have never advanced any technology (e.g. solar panels, etc). Until battery prices decline, EVs are in a holding pattern in the mass market arena, but doing OK in the upper echelon arena (Tesla). Massive govt subsidies cannot make battery prices decline and, regardless, the US is hardly the leader in battery technology. Probably 98% of the batteries now used in EVS are made in Asia. Only the xenophobic presume the US necessary to advance any technology these days.

  2. Until and unless the external cost of dirty energy are internalized in the price, there is no level playing field. I agree that the advantages of EVs are worth the extra cost, but I've sold more LEAFs than anyone in the country and I can say with some assurance that the vast majority of Americans don't think that way. They are incredibly selfish and only care about themselves. That said, there are still enough good Americans who do care about the external costs of oil and will still buy the car in spite of its perceived higher cost. But really, until we put a price on carbon, we're fighting an up hill battle.

  3. its not percieved higher costs. the leaf is not a good buy. its that simple. if we make the lifespan the "life" of the battery (lets be generous 10 years) then a $10,000 sentra or a $14,000 elantra or fiesta is a MUCH better economical buy than a leaf.

    Now don't get me wrong Nissan did an AMAZING thing with the leaf but LITHIUM is not viable yet.

    NIMH IS. we already have $4500 batteries that are good for 80-110 miles to a charge that will last the average driver over 300,000 miles before needing replacement.

    NOW THAT is viable. they REFUSE to make them. Flat out refuse. We don't need subsidies for that we need gov to FORCE them to make them. they can easily make a 300k mile lifespan electric car with 100mile range for under $14k NO subs.

  4. Apparently you are in need of a bit of history review. Try googling Chevron and NiMH. Not only will you learn why large NiMH batteries aren't being manufactured, you will learn Reason 43b why I am not a fan of oil companies.

  5. I do not think that is a surprise to anyone. GM is controlled by the GOP and that is why a lot of people think that GM is trying to kill the electric car again by demanding that we ease ourselves into electric cars and saying that we are addicted to oil and it will take until 2050 to get away from fossil fuel and that electric cars will abandon us in the woods somewhere. The GOP does not want to break the chains of fossil fuel because the Dems are pro-environmental and know that electric cars is a major step in cleaning up the environment and getting away from fossil fuel.

  6. I wish GM would just die. the "chevy volt" (I feel dirty even saying that) is an insult. its a outright SLAP IN THE FACE to anyone with knowledge of recent history (EV1 RAV4EV) its a giant F U to the american public.

    makes me sick.

  7. The GOP let their intentions be known when Regan ordered that the solar panels that Carter put on the White House be removed and all funding for clean energy be directed over to fossil fuel and nuclear power, which is a fossil fuel. Ever since the GOP has killed everything green and clean, and that includes electric cars and GM has proven themselves a true conservative in the dirty vehicle industry and continuing the anti-environment agenda.

  8. Can you please explain how nuclear power is a fossil fuel? Also, how is nuclear power not clean? Don't say that it is because of the long-lived radioactive waste; that "waste" could *easily* be used to fuel other reactors if our government would allow us to reprocess spent fuel like other countries. Nuclear power is the cleanest way to provide a reliable base capacity to the grid.

  9. After Chernobyl and Fukashima, you can seriously ask why nuclear power is not clean? I would suggest that the cleanest way to provide baseload is geothermal, if we would provide a small fraction of the research funds that have been poured into nuclear. Maybe like nuclear, the government could limit its liability too, just for fun.

  10. The commenters might have missed the point of the article.

  11. Thanks John. great article.

    As we now know securing personal carers and self-promotion and grappling for power come way before helping the American People in today's U.S. Congress.

    Sad to say but we my need a huge national disaster before we are shaken out of our comfort zone and react with some sort of national teamwork to save ourselves.

  12. "America can’t afford to look that stupid."

    Says it all.

  13. Look at Faux Noise for example when they interviewed a Chevy Volt owner Eric Rotbard. Cavuto was definitly trying to bait Rotbard and asked if the Volt had holes in the floor sort of akin to the Flintstones Vehicle. Eric turned the tables on Cavuto because he gave such a good interview about his Chevy Volt and how well it preformed for him. Right wing Blowhard Rush Limbaugh said that the Chevy Volt was a bad product yet the majority of Volt owners are quite pleased with their car. As to whether or not the Government should offer tax incentives to buy an Electric vehicle or should invest in Green technology has been made by the GOP many times. My answer Lets use technology to break our addiction/dependance to fossil fuels before its too late

  14. For Rotbard's takedown of Cavuto on Fox News, see here:

  15. Electric only cars have a very, very limited potential market. This is Chemistry, not politics. The Leaf has a best possible range of 120 miles Round Trip. Half of that in cold weather (60 miles round trip) and even half of that if you run the heater (30 miles round trip). That is Physics.

  16. So, once the range increases to 200+ miles for a $30K vehicle, are you willing to embrace electric vehicles? You must be aware that this 200+ range will occur in 2017? At that point, please purchase your new EV and we will all congratulate you on your contribution to the environment and moving forward to energy independence.

  17. Infrastructure is a huge issue. 2 hours driving then 30 minutes (time to pull in, wait your turn, connect up, etc. or up to 23 hours at a motel) to recharge is laughable. If you want to almost make it make sense, adopt the 'ride and drive' program trains used to offer. Drive your electric car to the station, put your car on the train, let it charge during your trip and you ride the train to your far away destination. Much more reasonable and electric trains are even better than electric cars.

  18. The electric company is a huge problem. A fully electric car draws about as much electricity as a home. Adding and subtracting thousands and thousands of homes from the electric grid is simply not possible. We cannot do it. And solar does not work at night when most people are at home and need their cars recharged. It cannot be done.

  19. @Jonathan: That's simply not true. An electric car charging pulls about as much power as 3 or 4 plasma TV sets. The question of whether there is sufficient capacity in the U.S. has been conclusively settled, and as long as the bulk of plug-in cars are recharged overnight, there will be little grid impact. I recommend you carefully the two-volume study jointly issued in 2007 by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). They cover the issue in some detail.

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