Can someone please explain the logic of the argument in this Wired Autopia blog post to me?
EV advocates say the California Air Resources Board is trying to kill the electric car — again.
Under a proposal pending before the Air Resources Board, state regulators would slash — from 75,000 to as few as 27,500 — the number of zero-emission vehicles automakers must build between 2012 and 2017. Under the changes, the big automakers could put fewer than 2,500 nonpolluting cars on the road in the next four years. That’s only 300 more than Tesla Motors plans to produce in the next two.
Ummmm … first of all, the whole reference to killing the electric car “again” is a reference to the fact that the technology was not scalable and commercializable the last time California passed an electric car mandate. Wishing didn’t make it so then, and it still doesn’t, despite all of the arguments about government policy being “technology forcing”. High gasoline prices and increased environmental concerns at a distributed, decentralized level are much more effective at inducing resilient technological change than government mandates. Such mandates run much more of a risk of the unintended consequences of governments having the hubris to think that they can pick technology winners. They cannot. What if, for example, such mandates induce researchers to shift entirely into electric vehicles and out of plug-in-electric hybrids, and what if it turns out that the PHEV has a larger portfolio of benefits and is more consumer-friendly than the EV? Then the government has picked wrong, and we all bear the cost of the coercion.
Second, does it occur to any of these so-called EV supporters that with the electric car plans of Tesla and GM, such government policy is irrelevant? That last sentence of the quote — that Tesla itself will be producing almost as many as are named in California’s mandate — belies the argument that more government forcing is needed.
I think the carrot is there, the lures are all around, and the commercial electric vehicle (and plug-in hybrid) is in the near future. How can changing a government target in a wishing-it-to-happen piece of legislation reverse that? Ridiculous.