Electric Cars: Obama’s Boon or Bust?

Generally I mute commercials but the other day I was not near the remote and happened to hear a commercial for the Chevy Volt. After half listening to the commercial, I rewound the commercial and listened more carefully to clarify what I heard.

The commercial gives one the impression that the car is primarily electric and that it only needs its gasoline engine if they want to go a little farther. But when you read the fine print, the electric engine only takes you about 35 miles on a full charge. From there you have to rely on the gasoline engine which gets about 37 miles per gallon.

The Obama administration has been spending millions of taxpayer dollars to subsidize the electric car industry. It is one of his ‘green projects’ designed to be environmentally friendly and create green jobs in the process, also at the expense of millions of taxpayer dollars.

Pennsylvania Congressman Mike Kelly is now calling for an end to federal subsidies for the electric car industry. Kelly says he understands the auto industry better than many other politicians since he has been a General Motors dealer for nearly 60 years.

Kelly explains that he is not against electric cars and their development, but that it should not be at taxpayer expense. He points out that this subsidy covers approximately 200,000 electric cars per manufacturer to the tune of $7,500 per car for a total cost of nearly $1.5 billion of taxpayer money per manufacturer. Additionally, many states such as his home state of Pennsylvania offers an additional tax break ($3,500 in PA) for the purchase of the cars.

Personally I would say that $1.5 billion per manufacturer is a lot of subsidy for an electric car that only gets about 35 miles per charge.

Interestingly, no one seems to be mentioning the extra electricity used to recharge the car after each short stint. Depending upon where you live, that extra electricity is produced by coal burning generating stations that are using up additional fossil fuels to provide the electricity to charge the car for its 35 mile journey. Additionally, many coal burning electric plants produce more pollution than the car would create traveling that 35 miles using its gasoline engine.

So I agree with Sen. Kelly in wanting to see the end of all government subsidies for the hybrid and so-called electric cars. If the auto industry truly wants to sell an efficient electric car to the American public, they still need to develop one that travels significantly farther than 35 miles and still be cost competitive with gasoline cars. Until then, like the rest of the public I know, I’ll keep driving and filling up at the pump and not at the electric outlet.