Have you purchased your new, all electric car yet? Me neither. Of course, I can’t decide whether it’s because I hate the environment, hate America, or a result of my severe allergy to burning to death in a fiery roadside inferno. But we shouldn’t feel too alone. It seems that drivers have been rather cool on the idea all over the country. This is producing a significant impact on Indiana in particular.
Reporting from Elkhart, Ind.— For politicians betting on electric vehicles to drive job growth, the view from inside Think City’s plant here is their worst nightmare: 100 unfinished vehicles lined up with no word on whether they will be completed.
Only two years ago, the tiny Think cars (two can fit in a regular parking space) were expected to bring more than 400 jobs to this ailing city and a lifeline to suppliers who once made parts for gas-guzzling recreational vehicles.
“We’ve said we’re out to make Indiana the electric vehicle state. It’s beginning to look like the state capital will be Elkhart County,” Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels said in January 2010 in announcing government incentives used to attract Think to his state.
Instead, the Hoosier State’s big bet has been a bust. The plant is devoid of activity; there are just two employees. A Russian investor who recently purchased Think’s bankrupt parent in Norway has been silent about its future. A government-backed Indianapolis battery maker that was to supply Think wrote off a $73-million investment in the car company and Thursday declared bankruptcy. Two unrelated electric truck makers Indiana planned to nurture have yet to get off the ground.
Well, that’s certainly bad news for the workers of Indiana. (Not to mention all of the taxpayers who funded this boondoggle.) But at least we can move on and hope that we learned something from the exercise, with the possibility in mind that additional technological advances will make such endeavors more financially viable in the future.
BUT WAIT! What was I thinking? There is clearly another solution right in front of our noses, and California has come up with just the fix for this dilemma. If people don’t want to buy these electric cars, we can just pass a law and make them buy them!
California air regulators passed sweeping emission standards Friday that will require one in seven of the new cars sold in the state in 2025 be an electric or other zero-emission vehicle.
The policy adopted unanimously by the California Air Resources Board mandates a 75 percent reduction in smog-forming pollutants by 2025, and a 50 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from today’s standards.
I bet the car dealerships must just be doing back-flips in happiness over this eh? Turns out… not so much.
It’s hard to legislate or mandate what people want to drive or to need to drive,” said Lance Roberts, spokesman for the New Car Dealers Association of San Diego County.
“Certainly our dealers understand the need to continue to advance clean technology. By the same token, people have different needs. Dealers are caught in the middle.”
The new state policy mandates that a mix of 1.4 million zero-emission and plug-in hybrid vehicles be on the road by 2025, nearly triple the number being driven today.
What’s not explained in this report is exactly how the state government of California plans to enforce this mandate. If there aren’t enough electric vehicles sold, will they just send in the national guard to shut down the dealerships and prevent them from selling standard technology cars until a sufficient amount of people show up to buy the green models? Will you be arrested as you drive off the lot in your new Camaro if not enough people bought a Leaf that month?
One thing is for sure: don’t strap your dog carrier to the roof of your car after this. If you wind up with a crispy friend terrier on your car you’ll have PETA after you as well as the EPA and the state government.