Andrew Yang, a Democratic candidate for president of the United States, entered the CNN climate change marathon as one of the more interesting contestants for the nomination that most people haven’t heard of. A former corporate lawyer, Yang has been involved in several business and philanthropic ventures for the past several years.
Yang right now resides in the lower tier of candidates, polling about 2.6 percent in the Real Clear Politics average. The CNN program gave him another opportunity to tour his ideas, which include a form of universal basic income in which every American would be given $1,000 a month with no strings attached. He also supports more conventional liberal policies such as Medicare for All and a carbon tax. On the other hand, unlike virtually all of the other Democrats, he likes nuclear power as a carbon-free technology.
However, Yang presented one proposal that may give most American voters pause. Stephen Green at PJ Media explains.
“During Wednesday’s seven-hour Climate Hoo-Ha ordeal on CNN, Yang offhandedly proposed buybacks of regular cars — you know, the ones you can drive more than 300 miles even in winter and can fill up anywhere to 100% in just a few minutes — and stick us all in electric vehicles which he insists ‘we are all going to love.’
“He admits that there will still be some “legacy gas-guzzlers” on the roads when he’s president, but “some” indicates the sheer scale of his ambition and/or ego. There are more than 270 million motor vehicles licensed in the United States alone — the vast, vast majority of which are gas/diesel/hybrid. Annual passenger car/light truck sales are highly variable, but last year totaled about 17 million. If Yang were to wave a magic wand and mandate nothing but e-car production from now on, it would still take about 15 years to replace American’s existing inventory of ICE vehicles.”
The idea of electric cars is a beguiling one. They run on batteries without complex internal combustion engines, cooling systems, transmissions and all the other accouterments of gasoline-fueled vehicles. On the other hand, electric vehicles lack the range of conventional cars. It takes a very long time to recharge them. Battery life is also a problem.
Electric cars as a panacea for climate change is also problematic. While they do not emit pollution, EVs are recharged by whatever technology of power plant provides the electricity. If the local plant runs on coal,.one might as well shovel the stuff into the car’s engine to make it go for all the environmental good it will do.
PJ Media also suggests other problems with suddenly converting to electric cars:
“Actually, it would take longer, because e-cars cost more and so people would hang on to their old gas/diesel/hybrid vehicles for even longer than we do now. Also, it’s not going to happen because there’s no way the carmakers of the world could retool that quickly. Then there’s the tiny little issue of sourcing enough lithium required for all those batteries.
Let’s also wonder a moment over the logistics of junking an additional few million cars each year. If you don’t want an electric vehicle? If you can’t afford an electric vehicle? Don’t you worry your pretty little head: Yang knows what’s best for you.”
One more problem exists for Yang’s car buyback program. Where is the government going to come up with the money for it? On the other hand, with schemes like the Green New Deal costing in the many trillions of dollars, the cost may be just an annoying detail for politicians like Yang.
Another problem with electric cars, according to CNN Business, is the lack of recharging stations. When one is taking a cross country trip, it doesn’t matter if the fuel level is almost empty. Another filling station is just down the road, ready to refill the gas, allowing for a quick trip to the restroom, and maybe a snack at the convenience store.
The good news, according to CNN, is that technology is proceeding apace. EVs are getting better, with longer ranges, more battery life, and quicker recharge time. However, as with most things, technological change will not happen by government fiat just because Andrew Yang wants it to happen. No government horseless carriage program existed to get people out of their buggies and horse-drawn wagons. The rise of the automobile happened because of the free market. So it will be, most analysts agree, with electric vehicles.