One of the Costs of One Size Fits All

  • January 30, 2024

It’s a shame the government has banned practical, affordable electric cars. This may come as a surprise to people who think government is pushing electric cars. Both statements are true – even though it may sound as though they contradict.

The key to understanding the apparent incongruity is understanding that, when it comes to the government, one size fits all.

The government says – the government decrees – that there shall be no alternatives to electric cars, via regulations that serve as a de facto compliance requirement for the car companies to make (and try to sell, at their own peril) electric cars only. Because only electric cars qualify (per the government’s regs) as “zero emissions” cars. That their manufacture and use does result in a great deal of “emissions” is an immaterial fact, insofar as the regulations (and compliance with them) is concerned.

But the government also decrees – this time, via laws – that no car company may sell vehicles that can’t keep up with traffic on the highway. Or – rather – that such vehicles are not legal for use on the highway. It is why it’s illegal to ride a moped that can’t go any faster than 35 MPH or thereabouts on the highway. And it means the same as regards a car that can’t go any faster than that (or thereabouts) too.

And that’s how the government has outlawed practical, affordable electric cars.

Because in order to be capable of doing what all cars are required to be capable of doing (in order to be considered “cars” under the law) they must be capable of keeping up with high speed highway traffic and (as a practical matter) be able to maintain such speeds for at least 100 or more miles of steady driving, even if they are never actually driven on the highway.

They must have the capability.

And in order to have it, they must have the massive battery packs and the powerful, energy-sucking motors necessary to do it. These two things are the most expensive things in an electric vehicle. They are why the average cost an EV approaches $50,000.

But they don’t have to be that expensive – if the EV isn’t expected to be both a city car and a highway car.

If it were allowable for a company to manufacture a city-only EV, it would be possible to manufacture one and it would probably sell – to people who don’t need a highway car – because it would be an inexpensive car. An EV that didn’t need to be able to reach (and hold) at least 70-75 MPH in order to be capable of keeping up with highway traffic would not need a massive (and massively expensive) battery pack nor massively powerful electric motors – just as a moped with a top speed of 35-40 MPH does not need a motorcycle-sized engine.

It would also not need as much energy and its manufacture and use would not result in massive elsewhere emissions, either.

But never mind that.

It could get by with a much smaller, much less expensive battery pack and motor – just enough of both to be able to keep up with traffic in the city – which rarely gets moving faster than 35-40 MPH. A person who lives in the city doesn’t need a vehicle that can go faster. But the government says he must pay for one anyhow.

That everyone must.

Via regs and laws that say one size fits all. You are not allowed to choose the size that fits you – and the car companies are not allowed to offer it, either. This goes beyond city/highway capability, too. Our not-allowed city-only EV would also have to have all the “safety” equipment that must be built into every vehicle, including air bags that are irrelevant expenses (or would be) in city-only car since such a car would not get going fast enough for an air bag to offer much if any meaningful benefit. Air bags are designed to deploy (that is, to explode) in high-impact situations, which generally require faster-than-moped speeds. An impact at 15 MPH in bumper-to-bumper city traffic won’t trigger an air bag. A seatbelt is sufficient. So why have the air bag?

The airbags – plural?

Because the government says (the government decrees) one-size-fits-all.

The government also says all vehicles must meet certain bumper impact/crash standards, irrespective of the real-world need for them to do so. Leaving aside this obnoxious business of the government deciding what we need – and are going to pay for – whether we need it or not, according to our own judgment.

The result of all this one-size-all’ing is the $50,000 average priced EV the government thinks everyone can afford to buy. That the government insists everyone will buy – by eliminating not only engine-powered alternatives to them via the regs but also affordable electric alternatives to them via the law.

This is something not even the government of China insist on. Over there – in the People’s Republic of China – one can buy a “city” EV.  Here’s just one example. These cost as little as $5,000 and are just enough to get around, in the city – for people who need no more than that.

The government of the People’s Republic of China allows its people that freedom, at least.

But not the government of this country. Which says a great deal about what’s become of this country.

. . .

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