We’re in a climate crisis. It shouldn’t be this hard to buy an electric car
We’re in a climate crisis. It shouldn’t be this hard to buy an electric car

A year and a half ago, my conscience got to me, so I went shopping for an electric car.

We’re in a climate crisis. It shouldn’t be this hard to buy an electric car
We’re in a climate crisis. It shouldn’t be this hard to buy an electric car

I’d written about why Los Angeles now has more humidity and mosquitoes, why Joshua trees are dying, why juvenile great white sharks are migrating north to Monterey Bay, why there’s less coastal fog and slower growth in redwood forests, and why trophy grapes like cabernet sauvignon are living on borrowed time.

Climate change is the culprit, and vehicle emissions are a major cause.

My old Prius was no gas-guzzler, but it was beaten up and I was ready for some new wheels. I had issues, though, with the electric vehicles I considered.

They were too expensive. There weren’t enough charging stations, other than for Teslas, to make long-distance travel convenient. Battery technology was still evolving, and mining for materials created an environmental hazard.

So instead of going electric, I decided to wait for better options and take a half step towards cleaner energy in the meantime. I rented a plug-in hybrid. My Kia Niro gets 24 miles on electricity, then switches to gas and gets about 45 miles per gallon. Since many of my trips are short, most of my units are electric and charging is easy. I plug the car into a standard 110 volt outlet every night and wake up with another 24 miles of electricity. And plug-in hybrids are much cheaper than all electric ones.

But I confess some buyer’s remorse. Evidence of accelerating climate change has become more alarming, with California as dry as dust and much of the world experiencing unprecedented heat and drought, along with the drought-flood cycle associated with climate change. Then there was the price of gas, which exceeded $ 6 a gallon and made me wish I was fully electric. In addition, state subsidies and federal tax credits were available to accelerate the conversion from fossil fuels.

And then one day I opened the paper and read a letter to the editor of Paul Scott, co-founder of Plug In America, an electric car advocacy group. “Never buy a gasoline car again, and to the extent that you have influence, don’t let your friends, family, co-workers or neighbors buy one,” wrote Scott. One day I met Scott and Zan Dubin-Scott at a Tesla charging station in Santa Monica. They are divorced, but are still married for a cause they have embraced in earnest after Scott was diagnosed with cancer many years ago.

“He came home and said, ‘I want to live my dream,'” Dubin-Scott said. Scott’s first move was to convert to solar energy and weaned off gasoline. He owns a Tesla, which he rents from an acquaintance, and owns half of another Tesla, which he shares with a friend. But for the most part, he rides an electric motorcycle.

“When you charge your electric vehicle with solar power, you are driving in the sunlight,” said Scott, who told me, “burning gasoline does more damage than anything the average American does.” Maybe so, but while I was looking to swap my plug-in hybrid for an all-electric vehicle, there weren’t many great options if you’d rather not break your budget. You can find an electric Volkswagen for just under $ 50,000, a mid-1950s BMW, and an Audi for $ 60,000, $ 80,000 or more, but no thanks.

Even the electricity used is more than I am willing to pay. It’s such a missed opportunity because the combination of a melting planet and high gas prices are driving demand, but the supply chain problems caused by the pandemic have meant low supply and high prices.

Dubin-Scott, who drives a Chevy Volt, a plug-in hybrid that works twice as much as mine on electric power, said there’s an argument to hold my car for a while longer. Given the battery manufacturing issues, he said, it’s worth noting that several plug-in hybrids can run on the same amount of material needed to power an all-electric vehicle.

He referred me to two people: Chelsea Sexton, an automotive analyst and proponent of electric vehicles, and David Eagle, an independent electric vehicle broker. “I do think you should keep your car,” Sexton told me. She added that research indicates there’d be a bigger market for plug-in hybrids if they had a 60-mile all-electric range, so maybe those options will be available in years to come.

As for Eagle, who started a company called Current EV several years ago, business built gradually, and then came the pandemic. “When the Ukraine war broke out and gas prices started going up, our business quadrupled overnight” in terms of the number of clients trying to land EVs, Eagle said. “But there are nowhere near enough vehicles for them to buy or lease, and when there are, they’re being marked up like crazy — some by 20k or more.” One exception, Eagle said, is the new Chevy Bolt EV (starting at $26,000) and the larger Bolt EUV.

Customers are making deposits and waiting two to three months for delivery, he said. “We just entered into a deal for a customer who got a total of $ 5,000 in discounts,” she said, not including “the $ 7,500 tax credit or the $ 2,000 clean air vehicle discount.”

If I want more options and lower prices, Eagle said, it would be best to keep my Kia until the lease is up in 18 months. By then, perhaps some of the problems with state incentives will have been resolved. As it stands, the federal tax credit of up to $ 7,500 for electric vehicles in President Biden’s new health, tax and climate law is a confusing mix. It covers vehicles produced in North America, but excludes foreign models, including Kia and Hyundai, which both produce cars that interest me.

I understand the reality of the legislative compromise, but let’s go. We are at a tipping point and engaging in climate change initiatives means small steps forward when big leaps are needed. In California, where Governor Gavin Newsom has set a goal to ban the sale of gasoline-powered vehicles by 2035, charging infrastructure is available for expensive Tesla but not cheaper electric cars.

And the disappointing reality is that electric vehicle incentive programs for low- and moderate-income buyers have long waiting lists or have been closed, as CalMatters introduced this month. Supply shortages are largely to blame, said Tim Tyner, co-director of the Central California Asthma Collaborative.

The agency, which advocates for cleaner air and works with the state on EV incentives, has drawn interest from several thousand residents but has managed to line up only 23 clients with electric vehicles in recent months due to supply shortages and state funding limitations.

For some clients, Tyner said, several thousand dollars in financial incentives were negated by dealer markups, putting new cars beyond reach. “Awareness is there and interest is there,” Tyner told me. “But unfortunately, I think we are at least a year or two years behind where we want to be in terms of having vehicle pricing and incentives all line up.” For the time being, I’ll hold on to my plug-in hybrid. But like I said, we’re in a state of emergency that screams out for us to pick up the pace.

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Hi, I am Yunus, founder of InfoEVs. I am a Blogger and Digital Marketer by profession and a vehicle lover. I like to ride and read, and write about vehicles.


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