Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg — considered the most likely Democratic candidate for president in 2024 after Joe Biden in the latest Washington Post ranking — says the solution to high gas prices is getting “most Americans” to switch to electric vehicles. Willingly or not.
As secretary, Buttigieg is issuing federal regulations to force states to limit the use of gas-powered vehicles. If he becomes president, we’ll be living in green hell, compelled to buy pricey electric vehicles to comply with his climate zealotry.
Right now, fewer than one percent of vehicles on the road are electric-powered. EVs are probably the long-term future. But they won’t solve the current pain at the pump. They cost too much. And charging them is a logistical nightmare. The United States has 150,000 gas stations but only 6,000 charging stations.
On a radio show Thursday, Buttigieg roiled the audience by suggesting that switching to electric cars — rather than producing more energy — is the answer. Meanwhile gas prices are predicted to rise to as much as $6 a gallon this fall, per an internal US Treasury analysis, and even higher in JP Morgan’s worst-case scenario.
EVs are not the answer. Buttigieg is living in la-la land. The average new EV costs about $66,000. One of the best deals, according to US News and World Report, is the 2022 Kia EV6, priced at $40,900 before add-ons. Even that’s more than most people can afford. Three-quarters of Americans who need a car buy a used one, paying around $27,000 for it.
EVs are for big spenders. A staggering 78% of EV buyers, according to AAA, own other cars. They’re in the income bracket to afford multiple cars. They drive the EV short distances but fall back on their gas-powered car for long-distance driving.
Lucky for them because getting a charge away from home isn’t fast or easy, notes the MIT Technology Review. Gas-powered cars zip in and out of gas stations. EV owners have to cool their heels for a minimum of 15 minutes to put a couple hundred miles on the vehicle, even at the fastest Tesla super charger.
That is, if you can find a charging station. They are “nearly nonexistent” in rural America.
Even charging at home can be a problem. Take the Tesla Model Y, ranked the best electric SUV. Even with a 220V charger installed in your home, it takes 11.5 hours to power up this model. That’s more than most people sleep in a night.
And that’s assuming you’re allowed to recharge. With some states facing brownouts and electricity curbs, there could be restrictions. Texas has already put limits on EV charging during peak times. Texas isn’t producing enough electricity to support widespread charging. Imagine being told you can’t plug in your car at night to drive to work the next morning.
The fact is, the nation lacks the infrastructure to support a rapid total transition to EVs, and many states lack the electricity generation as well.
Many of these problems are temporary. The major auto companies are betting on EVs for the future. Both GM and Tesla are partnering with convenience-store chains across the country to install charging stations. (The federal government is funding some stations as well.) Already 14% of Sheetz stores, a regional mid-Atlantic chain, have Tesla chargers. Sheetz is delighted to sell soft drinks and snacks to EV owners as they wait to power up.
In the long run, count on market ingenuity to solve the shortcomings of EVs and increase their affordability, just like what happened with cellphones. Unfortunately, Buttigieg refuses to wait. He’d rather ram the technology down Americans’ throats.
On Thursday, he proposed regulations to compel states to reduce CO2 highway emissions, in effect outlawing gas-powered vehicles. The regulations appear to exceed the Department of Transportation’s authority and will be challenged in court. But they indicate Buttigieg’s mindset.
Beware making this climate radical the next president of the United States.
Betsy McCaughey is a former lieutenant governor of New York.