The disruption caused by the threat of electric vehicles is finally hitting home. In no other week has news related to the pushback by the proxies of the affected parties been so prominent than the past week, at a time when electric vehicle sales and forecasts are surprising the market on the upside. The frantic efforts of Big Auto and Big Oil to reverse progress is right out of a scene from Godfather 3, when Michael Corleone reflected “Just When I Thought I Was Out, They Pull Me Back In.”
The efforts to block the march of electric vehicles has reached new heights as old foes Big Corn, and Big Oil agreed to work together in defending the transportation fuel sector. Reuters reports the Renewable Fuel Association (AFR) and American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) will target electric vehicle incentives to “level” the playing fields. We hope the AFR and AFPM remember all the subsidies and support they received over the years to “level” the playing fields.
The Sierra Club, a respected environmental association, reported on the drive by various States to penalize electric vehicle owners. The report speculates that the efforts, already successful in ten States and considered in a further six, is backed by the Oil Industry. The Koch Brothers, Charles, and David, who’s combined wealth of $79Bln gained from oil, making them richer than the world’s richest person, Bill Gates, funded the creation of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in 2015. ALEC’s mission is to discourage States to support electric vehicles for carbon fuel based transport. Only four States, Texas, Oregon, Vermont, and Wisconsin have been successful in blocking the attack. Penalties take the form of annual fees varying between $50 and $300 per year. Georgia, which at some point had the 2nd highest EV sales in the USA as a result of a tax incentive of $5,000, replaced the subsidy with a $200 annual fee, resulting in an 80% drop in EV sales.
In a separate effort, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers asked President Trump’s newly appointed Environmental Protection Agency Tsar, Scott Pruitt, to withdraw the Obama era agreed on 54.5MPG emissions benchmark, required by 2025. The AAM’s reasoning is that achieving the standard is too costly and that the consumer demand is not there to support such a stringent rule. Really? The obvious question one should ask AAM is how they think the consumer could demand EV’s if the supply of combustion vehicles is stuffed down their throats? Looking at the list of auto manufacturers supporting this effort, it begs the question if brands such as GM only manufacture models such as the Bolt as a compliance vehicle, a viewpoint held by many in the electric vehicle fraternity. Developing EV’s only for compliance purposes limits consumer choice and the advancement of the technology. Already GM is slated for only launching the Bolt in States where there are emission standards. The reality is that these brands have been against the technology from the start and now find themselves threatened and at a disadvantage, having to resort to delaying tactics at the cost of the environment and consumer.
In Hong Kong, a mainstay market for Tesla, the Financial Secretary in his budget announced that the 20-year-old tax incentive for first-time EV registrations would be scrapped, and the tax discount on electric vehicles be capped at around $12,500. The result is that the cost of a Tesla Model S could nearly double in price. The move is in a bid to limit overall car ownership.
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