How Politicians Plug Electric Cars

(Photo: mariordo59)

A new study by Bradley W. Lane, Natalie Messer-Betts, Devin Hartmann, Sanya Carley, Rachel M. Krause, and John D. Graham on why governments promote electric vehicles finds that the environmental benefits of the vehicles have little to do with politicians’ motives for supporting the industry. Perhaps not surprisingly, “Government Promotion of the Electric Car: Risk Management or Industrial Policy?” (gated) finds that the economic benefits of the industry are the primary motivator for most governments. From the press release:

Contrary to common belief, many of the world’s most powerful nations promote the manufacture and sale of electric vehicles primarily for reasons of economic development – notably job creation – not because of their potential to improve the environment through decreased air pollution and oil consumption.

This is among the main findings of a study by researchers at the Indiana University Bloomington School of Public and Environmental (SPEA) and University of Kansas that analyzed policies related to electric vehicles (EVs) in California, China, the European Union, France, Germany, and the United States – political jurisdictions with significant automotive industries and markets for EVs.

“Billions of dollars are being invested despite doubts that some express about the viability of electricity as a propulsion system,” said John D. Graham, SPEA dean and co-author of the study. “The objective of many of these national and sub-national governments is to establish a significant position – or even dominance – in the global marketplace for these emerging, innovative new technologies.”

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  1. Mike says:

    I suppose it makes sense. Leftist politicians aren’t going to win a lot of points by saying that the government should be spending lots of money to subsidize multibillion dollar companies and to help create markets for them to increase their profits.

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  2. Enter your name... says:

    Why is this surprising? “Jobs for the boys” has been a primary political motivation for a century. Employed people and their families vote for the politician who supports their employment.

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  3. T-rev says:

    Results to be published in “Duh!” the leading journal for obvious results.

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  4. Eric M. Jones says:

    Everybody knows how to build an electric car, NOBODY knows how to build suitable batteries. When batteries reach the energy density and storage reliability of gasoline…game over…we’ll all drive electric cars.

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    • Ian Woollard says:

      The storage density/reliability isn’t the primary problem, it’s the cost. Allowing for the cost of the battery, a battery is more expensive than a gasoline engine/fuel per mile.

      However, the cost of the battery is coming down reasonably quickly with mass production so when that flips then most people will use electric cars.

      Maximum range will still probably be rather lower, but, fast recharge and hire cars will deal with the rarer cases when you actually have to go long distances.

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    • James says:

      I believe that if you count gasoline-related vehicle fires, the cost of leaking storage tanks, evaporative emission controls, and similar, you’ll find that EV batteries already exceed the storage reliability of gasoline.

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  5. pawnman says:

    From the “Obvious Institute of Unnecessary Studies”.

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