Issues & Insights
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Have We Reached Peak Virtue Signaling With EVs?

The cars that were going to save our world from the scourge of carbon-based global warming are, says one media outlet, “​​piling up on dealer lots” because they can’t be sold. Maybe we’re finally at the point where most if not all of those who are desperate to demonstrate their green cred already have an EV and don’t need another battery-powered adult toy.

Even though “the auto industry is beginning to crank out more electric vehicles (EVs) to challenge Tesla,” Axios reported Monday, “there’s one big problem: not enough buyers.”

Two days later, Market Watch said that as “EV sales stall … there’s a ‘step back from euphoria.’”

While ​​Tesla Inc. and BYD Co., a Chinese conglomerate, have strong growth numbers, the rest in the industry, which has been incentivized to build, build, build by government mandate, can’t sell their EVs.

Korean luxury brand Genesis “sold only 18 of its nearly $82,000 Electrified G80 sedans in the 30 days leading up to June 29, and had 210 in stock nationwide — a 350-day supply,” Axios says.

Meanwhile, “Audi’s Q4 e-tron and Q8 e-tron and the GMC Hummer EV SUV, also have bloated inventories well above 100 days,” and “the Kia EV6, Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Nissan Ariya are also stacking up.” Even “the once-hot Ford Mustang Mach-E now has a 117-day supply.” 

Axios is blaming the high price of EVs for the lack of sales, but that doesn’t explain why Tesla and BYD continue to sell electric cars. Could be there’s another factor.

We have recently written:

  • That EVs are evil (they’re “​​responsible for raping the planet, poisoning entire communities, enriching genocidal tyrants, and creating a massive hazmat problem while doing nothing to stop “climate change”).
  • That EVs are the Yugo of the 21st century (“a minor accident can cause a total loss, even if the car’s been driven only a few miles,” because “the cost of repair is exorbitant”).
  • And that they deserve scorn from those who don’t own them (because “​​the policy geniuses in Washington” want to impose a per-mile tax on all driving since EVs don’t generate fuel tax revenues that fund road repair and new construction – when they’re not being diverted to public transit and other destinations that have nothing to do with automobile travel).

But we haven’t said nearly enough about how they’ve been the perfect product for virtue signalers. EVs are rolling megaphones for the upper-middle class and upper-class white Democrats and progressives who want to scream “look at me, I’m saving the planet.” We’ve seen no research on the matter, but we’d bet that there’s an enormous crossover between homes with EVs in the garage and “In This House We Believe …” signs in the yard.

Guardian columnist John Naughton recently wrote about EV buyers “basking in the warm glow that comes from doing one’s bit to save the planet,” and the “smug feeling” one gets when one doesn’t produce the same emissions as a “​​hideous diesel SUV.”

He was being a bit sarcastic, as the column is primarily focused on the dirty reality of EVs, an important point we have covered, as well. As an EV owner himself, though, he gets the virtue signaling exactly right.

The tone for this enduring fad – we call it that since it reminds us of teen behavior – was set at the Academy Awards in the early 2000s when celebrities, including actor and self-appointed climate scientist Leonardo DiCaprio, would pull up to the red carpet in Toyota Prius hybrids. Hey, if Leo and George Clooney were driving green cars, then it’s time for the all the right people to join them in contributing to the “cloud of smug.”

We acknowledge that not every EV owner is a peacock who made their purchase so they could showcase their environmental bona fides to the rubes who still drive the automobiles that burn fossil fuels. Some like the feel of EVs over that of conventional cars. Others are drawn by the technology and infotainment systems.

But we’re convinced that the bulk of EV owners buy them for the glory they think they’re covering themselves with. If that’s not the case, then there’s a lot of ignorance out there, because as guardians of the green, EVs are a failure.

— Written by the I&I Editorial Board


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I & I Editorial Board

The Issues and Insights Editorial Board has decades of experience in journalism, commentary and public policy.


  • Electric cars are nothing but a fad at this point. They are unsustainable, both in raw materials, and the ability of our electrical grid to handle them. They have a future, possibly! But it’s not today.

  • If you don’t want to spend thousands on a white elephant, then don’t waste your money on an EV!

  • I see nothing wrong with a cheap little EV that some suburban housewife can use to tool around town, pick kids up from school, and go to the supermarket.

    But nooooo, we can’t have affordable (Sorry Elon, but $40k is not affordable for an entry level car), can we? Nissan had a good idea with the Leaf, but it was not marketed toward anyone! Ever see a Leaf commercial? Me either. A Leaf ad in a magazine or on-line? Me either. I just saw a used one for $17k. A step above a golf cart and a step below a Versa, but cheaper to operate. Tempting, but in Houston’s high traffic suburbs, I’d be worried about range the whole time. But in some small town? Hmm. Have at it, hausfrau’s!

  • My husband purchased an EV truck without telling me. He’s not a climate change guy but rather loves attention. I think he bought it for the attention but is secretly regretting the cost to insure it, the limited miles it will travel, and the limited charging stations available to do so. I refrain from saying, “I told you so.”

  • This by Mark Mills for the Manhattan Institute is a brilliant and detailed take down of the battery powered car.

    One major hidden issue even Mills does not raise arises from the combination of limited range, long refueling cycles, and climate. An example will clarify the issue. Kimberley (in British Columbia) is a mining town trying to become a tourist center – it has golf course, trails, and a nice little ski hill. However, it is at the range limit for electrics coming from the nearest major center (Calgary) and out of range for B.C.’s largest city: vancouver. Even a high end electric with the biggest batteries and a claimed 300 mile range is at risk of not making the 245 mile trip when it’s cold (heating costs one third or more of miles) or hot (cooling costs miles too.) Bottom line: if battery power wins, kimberley dies.

  • So we can save the environment and get rid of fossil fuels by driving
    electric cars, right?

    Read this.


    Tesla said it best when they called it an Energy Storage System. That’s important.They do not make electricity– they store electricity produced elsewhere, primarily by coal, uranium, natural gas-powered plants, diesel-fueled generators or minerals. So, to say an Electric Vehicle (EV) is a zero-emission vehicle is not at all valid.

    Also, since twenty percent of the electricity generated in the U.S. is from coal-fire plants, it follows that forty percent of the EVs on the road are coal-powered, do you see? If not, read on.

    Einstein’s formula, E=MC2, tells us it takes the same amount of energy to move a five-thousand-pound gasoline-driven automobile a mile as it does an electric one. The only question again is what produces the power? To reiterate, it does not come from the battery; the battery is only the storage device, like a gas tank in a car.

    There are two orders of batteries, rechargeable, and single-use.  The most common single-use batteries are A, AA, AAA, C, D. 9V, and lantern types. Those dry-cell species use zinc, manganese, lithium, silver oxide, or zinc. Rechargeable batteries only differ in their internal materials, usually lithium-ion, nickel-metal oxide, and nickel-cadmium. The United States uses three billion of these two
    battery types a year, and most are not recycled; they end up in landfills. California is the only state which requires all batteries be recycled. If you throw your small, used batteries in the trash,
    here is what happens to them.

    All batteries are self-discharging. That means even when not in use, they leak tiny amounts of energy. You have likely ruined a flashlight or two from an old, ruptured battery. When a battery runs down and can no longer power a toy or light, you think of it as dead; well, it is not. It continues to leak small amounts of electricity.

    As the chemicals inside it run out, pressure builds inside the battery’s metal casing, and eventually, it cracks. The metals left inside then ooze out. The ooze in your ruined flashlight is toxic, and so is the ooze that will inevitably leak from every battery in a landfill. All batteries eventually rupture; it just takes
    rechargeable batteries longer to end up in the landfill.

    In addition to dry cell batteries, there are also wet cell ones used in automobiles, boats, and motorcycles. The good thing about those is, ninety percent of them are recycled. Unfortunately, we do
    not yet know how to recycle single-use ones properly.

    But that is not half of it. For those of you excited about electric cars and the green revolution look at batteries and also windmills and solar panels. These three technologies share what we call environmentally destructive embedded costs.

    Everything manufactured has two costs associated with it, embedded costs and operating costs. I will explain embedded costs using a can of baked beans as my subject. In this scenario, baked beans are on sale, so you jump in your car and head for the grocery store. Sure enough, there they are on the shelf for $1.75 a can. As you head to the checkout, you begin to think about the embedded costs in the can of beans.

    The first cost is the diesel fuel the farmer used to plow the field, till the ground, harvest the beans, and transport them to the food processor. Not only is his diesel fuel an embedded cost, so are the costs to build the tractors, combines, and trucks. In addition, the farmer might use a nitrogen fertilizer made from natural gas.

    Next is the energy costs of cooking the beans, heating the building, transporting the workers, and paying for the vast amounts of electricity used to run the plant. The steel can holding the beansis also an embedded cost. Making the steel can requires mining taconite, shipping it by boat, extracting the iron, placing it in a coal-fired blast furnace, and adding carbon. Then it’s back on another truck to take the beans to the grocery store. Finally, add in the cost of the gasoline for your car.

    A typical EV battery weighs one thousand pounds, about the size of a travel trunk. It contains twenty-five pounds of lithium, sixty pounds of nickel, 44 pounds of manganese, 30 pounds cobalt, 200
    pounds of copper, and 400 pounds of aluminum, steel, and plastic. Inside are over 6,000 individual lithium-ion cells.

    It should concern you that all those toxic components come from mining. For instance, to manufacture each EV auto battery, you must process 25,000 pounds of brine for the lithium, 30,000 pounds of orefor the cobalt, 5,000 pounds of ore for the nickel, and 25,000 pounds of ore for copper. All told, you dig up 500,000 pounds of the earth’s crust for just one battery.”

    Sixty-eight percent of the world’s cobalt, a significant  part of a battery, comes from the Congo. Their mines have no pollution controls, and they employ children who die from handling this toxic material. Should we factor in these diseased kids as part of the cost of driving an electric car?” And the Chinese just bought most of these mines!

    California is building the largest battery in the world near San Francisco, and they intendto power it from solar panels and windmills. They claim this is the ultimate in being ‘green,’ but it is not! This construction project is creating an environmental disaster.

    The main problem with solar arrays is the chemicals needed to process silicate into the silicon used in the panels. To make pure enough silicon requires processing it with hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, nitric acid, hydrogen fluoride, trichloroethane, and acetone. In addition, they also need gallium, arsenide, copper-indium-gallium-diselenide, and cadmium-telluride, which also are highly toxic. Silicone dust is a hazard to the workers, and the panels cannot be recycled.

    Windmills are the ultimate in embedded costs and environmental destruction. Each weighs 1688 tons (the equivalent of 23 houses) and contains 1300 tons of concrete, 295 tons of steel, 48 tons of iron,
    24 tons of fiberglass, and the hard to extract rare earths neodymium, praseodymium, and dysprosium. Each blade weighs 81,000 pounds and will last 15 to 20 years, at which time it must be replaced. We cannot recycle used blades. Sadly, both solar arrays and windmills kill birds, bats, sea life, and migratory insects.

    There may be a place for these technologies, but you must look beyond the myth of zero emissions. I predict EVs and windmills will be abandoned once the embedded environmental costs of making and
    replacing them become apparent. “Going Green” may sound like the Utopian ideal and are easily espoused, catchy buzzwords, but when you look at the hidden and embedded costs realistically with an open mind, you can see that Going Green is more destructive to the Earth’s environment than meets the eye, for sure.

    • E = MC2 is about atomic potential, E =MV2 is kinetic energy. But point taken. C is light speed.

  • 57 cents of each gallon of gas goes to pay state and fed taxes here, how they get taxes for electric cars?
    Trucks have weigh stations ev’s are so much heavier so more wear and tear on the roads

  • Ehhh, I dunno. Electric vehicles will ultimately be completely superior to their ICE counterparts in all aspects, except nostalgia. They have far fewer moving parts, which means that at scale they will cost less to mass produce and require less ongoing maintenance.

    The main obstacle at this point is range anxiety caused by lack of charging infrastructure and battery capacity. However, in about four years everyone will be mass-producing solid-state batteries that have double the range and charge in less than 10 minutes. In the meantime, supply chains and charging networks will continue to be built out.

    The future is electric, and the ICE will go the way of they vinyl album.

  • So when will our Fearless Leaders and Hollywood as well as the UN will all go to totally E.V. and power provided by Wind and Solar?

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