The Obama Car: Unaffordable, Unreliable And Ultimately Dirty

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Four more years with Barack Obama as our President, and we are likely to see many green schemes whose time has not come. Who can doubt that the idiocy of the electric car is just coming into fruition? It will mark only more than a century of engineering on a project that shows little spark and even less hope.

Never fear, electric lovers; Obama has chipped in $5 billion in taxpayer money behind his goal of having 1 million electric cars on U.S. roads by 2015.

Never mind that GOP Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney said it was money wasted on “losers.” It is such a feel-good idea that people couldn’t help but embrace it. Then again, people have never been all that smart when it comes to electric cars.

When I moved to Spokane, Wash., in 1981 with my new wife and our baby I still had the last remnant of my bachelorhood. It was my 1977 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am, fire-engine red with a screaming chicken on the hood that covered the 400-cubic-inch engine. It also had a shaker hood that rattled when the V-8 was just idling noisily as the exhaust moved through the Hollywood mufflers.

Because it was bought in Canada, it also had a block heater on the engine. A block heater is nothing more than a coil that you plug in to an electric socket at night to keep the engine warm so a car will start during subzero-temperature winter nights in Canada.

A middle-aged man in a nice suit saw my muscle car idling at a stop sign in Spokane and noticed the electric plug that came out from the front to power the small electric heater.

“Is that one of them new electric cars?”

I explained it wasn’t and gave it some gas to prove it when the light turned green. Yet the truth was that what I was driving was much more practical than any electric car built during that era.

I know this because my dad — an oil man, of all things — was pretty sure that gasoline costs were going to soar. In the late 1970s, he almost bought a pure electric car from American Motors Corporation: the Electron. The car was extremely expensive. As I recall, it cost more than $20,000, which is $60,000 in today’s dollars. Worst of all, round trip from where my dad lived to his office in downtown Spokane was 30 miles. The extended range on the Electron was about 30 miles. My dad didn’t have to be a genius to know that he would have to push his car home some nights.

More than four decades later, the public is still a long way from embracing the electric car, despite how many tax credits Obama throws at it. Electric-vehicle sales since 2011 totaled fewer than 50,000 through last fall, only 5 percent of Obama’s target.

Bloomberg reported: “The reality is: that business model isn’t there yet,” said Brett Smith, co-director of manufacturing, engineering and technology at the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Michigan. “It isn’t there yet for volume. It isn’t there yet for reaching the mass consumer. And it probably isn’t going to be there for a while.”

Yet Tesla Motors, Inc. is pushing its electric car upon the American people with the help of the President.

In November, Reuters reported:

The re-election of President Barack Obama will likely mean a continuation of the U.S. government’s policy promoting electric and hybrid vehicles, Elon Musk, the chief executive of electric car maker Tesla Motors Inc , said on Monday.

“I think that we can expect at least that things will continue as they have,” Musk told reporters at an event in New York. “I wouldn’t expect it to get any worse for electric vehicles, hopefully it will get a little better.”

That certainly was not the conclusion of a new study released at the end of 2012 by the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs. It cast doubt on the Obama Administration’s goal of putting 1 million plug-in electric vehicles on the road by 2015.

“The perceived drawbacks of electric vehicles outweigh the advantages for most consumers,” the study said.

Stated a press release from the university: “Consumers are somewhat more interested in buying hybrid electric vehicles, with a gasoline-powered backup engine, than electric-only vehicles. This suggests there may be better market potential for hybrids like the Chevy Volt, Toyota Plug-In Prius and Ford C-Max Energi Plug-In.”

Indiana University researchers surveyed more than 2,300 adult drivers in 21 large U.S. cities and found car buyers in Dallas; Fort Worth, Texas; San Antonio; Indianapolis; Detroit; and Nashville, Tenn., show very little interest in electric cars.

Edmunds Inside Line concluded on Dec. 27: “As quickly as battery technology is advancing, pure electric vehicles still present too many compromises for the average consumer in terms of range and cost.”

One last thought: What if Obama and his green backers ever got their way and produced not 1 million but tens of millions of electric cars? What would juice up all those wall sockets that would charge those cars? After all, electricity isn’t free. Just ask any person who has to pay an electric bill. And a car is going to suck a lot more electricity than this computer I am typing on.

Businessman and economist Grady Means may have explained it best in The Washington Times:

Since the 1970s, the U.S. Department of Energy has “invested” more than $1 trillion in “alternative energy” schemes. I say “schemes” because after all of these investments, solar power, the darling of the White House and its friends and the recipient of massive grants and subsidies, results in one ten-thousandth of the electrical production in America. Wind power, after scarring a huge amount of America’s most beautiful scenery, amounts to a whopping 3 percent of electricity production. If these dials have barely moved after 40 years and $1 trillion, they are not going to move much in the next half-century. If electric cars ever roll, they will be powered by electricity from coal (nearly 50 percent of all electricity production), nuclear (20 percent), natural gas (20 percent) and hydro (most of the rest). In other words, expensive “electric cars” are actually, largely, “coal cars” — welcome to the 19th century.

Yes, my friends, expensive, unreliable cars with poor performance may not be so clean after all.

Obama went back on vacation last week to Hawaii. I think this future transportation infrastructure that he has dreamed up works great when he rolls his Presidential golf carts across the rolling green countryside on the Island. But it isn’t very practical when it comes to making America clean or competitive.

Yours in good times and bad,

–John Myers
Editor, Myers Energy & Gold Report

John Myers

is editor of Myers’ Energy and Gold Report. The son of C.V. Myers, the original publisher of Oilweek Magazine, John has worked with two of the world’s largest investment publishers, Phillips and Agora. He was the original editor for Outstanding Investments and has more than 20 years experience as an investment writer. John is a graduate of the University of Calgary. He has worked for Prudential Securities in Spokane, Wash., as a registered investment advisor. His office location in Calgary, Alberta, is just minutes away from the headquarters of some of the biggest players in today’s energy markets. This gives him personal access to everyone from oil CEOs to roughnecks, where he learns secrets from oil insiders he passes on to his subscribers. Plus, during his years in Spokane he cultivated a network of relationships with mining insiders in Idaho, Oregon and Washington.