Panel of advocates push for cafe standards to remain unchanged thedetroitbureau.com electricity youtube

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In Colorado, we track new vehicle registrations by brand and type. Over past ten years, light trucks have gained sales from 58% in 2008 to 71% in 2017. The pace seems to be accelerating (no pun intended), as the jump just between 2016 and 2018, Colorado light truck sales jumped from 66.7% to 71.2%. So the one year jump representing going from right at two out of every three vehicles to three out of every four.

– Dick’s preference for a fuel tax increase actually makes total sense. The rate hasn’t changed in years. If that modifies human behavior, it is better that way than incentive money such as is in place at federal level and state level in some places. All the while Congress is trying to figure out an infrastructure bill. A gas tax increase, rolled in over time, would gradually move people to newer, cleaner cars, all the while increasing funding for poorly maintained highways, streets, bridges and other infrastructure.

– All the while, as cool as electrics are (and they are very cool) there has to be developed a system under which they pay their own fair share for highways and infrastructure. Paying consumers to drive off in shiny new EVs, with federal incentive of $7500, and here in Colorado, another $5000 with no provision for those vehicles to pay their way on our Highway Trust Fund (gas tax) infrastructure, makes no sense. And is truly unsustainable, as ironic as that may sound.

First, the automakers really ARE on target and I’ve had several chief engineers tell me that getting to the actual number — low-mid-40 mpg range after factoring in credits, etc. — likely can be done with less electrification than originally expected;

Second, I hope I did not dismiss Dick’s call for an increase in the national gas tax. I think people SHOULD pay as they go, and we need to have a reasonable assessment of what the roadway infrastructure requires and taxes that support this. And transportation should be viewed as a universe that includes appropriate mass transit;

Finally, anyone who has driven the latest electrics cannot help but be pleasantly surprised, especially the next-gen PHEVs and BEVs. They are, if designed and engineered properly, quick, smooth, fun to drive. They actually can deliver some advantages over gas models beyond just tailpipe emissions. And the disadvantages are diminishing, whether range, cost, weight, charging time, etc.

Let me expand upon the latter: the debate needs to be one of apples-to-apples. If you are talking about ANY form of personal transportation you need to be considering things beyond the immediate MSRP. Think about this: how much of our federal taxes are devoted to supporting the development and support of oil resources? Critics would point out the billions spent to protect the global oil distribution system, (never mind the socio-political costs). What are the health and environmental costs? we cannot ignore the effects of pollution, whether on the plant or our persons. (And, I should argue, battery-car fans need to consider everything from the source of electric power to the raw materials, such as lithium, that go into electrified vehicles.)

The reality is that EVERY new form of transportation has enjoyed initial government subsidies, whether the early American merchant fleets, canals, railroads, airplanes or, yet, the gas-powered automobile. To suddenly say a radical technology like EVs should suddenly AND IMMEDIATELY carry 100% of its own weight is disingenuous. Hell, we subsidize the electric grid! But we also shouldn’t accept the idea that EVs get a free ride forever. The debate should balance all the above factors and come up with a reasonable strategy meant to encourage cleaner tech and, as it goes mass market, and as technology improves while costs fall, we should phase in towards a point where it carries its own weight.