In this morning's Washington Post, columnist and former New Republic editor Charles Lane writes that the Obama administration has not only fallen short in its quest for electric car domination—the quest has actually ended in decisive failure.
Americans bought just 71,000 plug-in hybrids or all-electric vehicles in the past two years, according to GreenCarReports.com. That’s about a third as many as the Energy Department forecast in a 2011 report that attempted to explain why Obama’s goal was not preposterous.
Federal billions cannot overcome the fact that electric vehicles and plug-in electric hybrids meet few, if any, of real consumers’ needs. Compared with gas-powered cars, they deliver inferior performance at much higher cost. As an American Physical Society symposium on battery research concluded last June: “Despite their many potential advantages, all-electric vehicles will not replace the standard American family car in the foreseeable future.”
He goes on,
As for Vice President Biden’s 2009 forecast of “billions and billions and billions of dollars in good, new jobs,” the electric car factory at which he made that statement sits idle. Ditto the taxpayer-backed Michigan factory of battery maker LG Chem. Two Energy Department-funded lithium-ion battery makers have gone bankrupt.
There’s simply no denying that the administration’s electric-vehicle project was a mistake.
But getting to the root of the problem, "the debacle is a case study in unchecked righteousness. The administration assumed the worthiness and urgency of its goals. Americans should want electric cars, and therefore they would, apparently."
Needless to say, the article has generated over 1,600 comments—the ones I've read have been largely critical, accusing Lane of simply being an idiot or a member of the radical right-wing (safe to say, he's neither). "Another fossil fuel guy," one reader rants. "Wake up idiots, time to move on to something new. We'd still be using steamboats and horses if your grandfather had his way. Apparently, the road apple doesn't fall far from the source." Says another: "Yeah, who wants a car that cost 3 cents per mile to run? Not the American Petroleum Institute that's for sure. Before gas stations were everywhere the same was true of gasoline engines. Lane is a dimwit ... and shill." And on, and on, and on (1,755 comments and counting!).