The American Conservative Says It’s Okay To Like EVs! Well, Sorta

According to a recent editorial in The American Conservative magazine, if automakers “build the EV right, they will come.”  The article acknowledges that EVs are a done deal, while conversely and a bit oddly, deterring conservative readers from making any EV purchase in the near future.

“The whole EVs of today are inferior,” the editorial argues. Then, in an abrupt tone shift, the author concedes, “but that will change, and, for some purposes, they’re already ahead of ICE cars.”

The opinion piece brings up a lot of outdated facts and illuminates why so many people are persuaded away from clean new technologies. This rationale behind the show walk toward EVs is quite convoluted yet worthy of a peek by our CleanTechnica readers. Here goes.

Why Conservatives Don’t Like EVs, According to The American Conservative

Environmentalist like ’em, so we can’t: Conservatives tend to dislike electric vehicles for “pretty good reasons,” the author begins, saying that they are favored by environmentalists, who are “usually” wrong. It’s hard to find evidence to support how saving the environment can be bad.

Really? Is someone out there looking for a dissertation topic to deconstruct? Run with that one, please. ICE vehicles run better than ever: Common conservative ideology conflicts with 2 major reasons to buy EVs. Conservatives, the author says, adhere to the premise that “internal combustion vehicles (ICEs) are not broken.” They also “don’t care about carbon footprints” due to skepticism about “anthropogenic global warming.” The conclusion is there’s no perceived need to fix ICE vehicles. The author, instead, describes decades of safety and performance strides of ICE vehicles, saying “it’s stunning how far a bit of refined petroleum can take a vehicle compared to the hay and oats needed for their predecessors.”

If anthropogenic climate change is accepted by non-partisan NASA, why do conservatives continue to balk? NASA says, “Multiple studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals show that human activities are the primary cause of the observed climate-warming trend over the past century.” Moreover, more strategic ICE vehicle performance doesn’t excuse their carbon- emitting culpability.

Upfront, EVs are “clearly” more expensive: While saying an EV is about equivalent to an entry-level luxury car, the author quickly detours into nonsense that “part of that is the result of a market distortion caused by tax subsidies.”

Ah, how easily they forget. The Environmental and Energy Study Institute found that the US government alone spends $20 billion every year on direct fossil fuel subsidies. Of that figure, around $16 billion goes towards oil and gas, while the remaining $4 billion benefits the coal industry.

Too much torque for you, oh, Average American: Relating how EVs have “amazing torque relative to their small-sized motors,” the author hyperbolically extends that statement of fact to suggest that an “EV family sedan can give you whiplash off the starting line.”

Yes, I, too, have been a passenger in a Tesla Plaid model with Ludicrous Mode engaged by a show-off driver, and I, too, felt it was excessive and unnecessary. But to say that “EVs are perhaps becoming too fast for some people” is to forget how speed helps even average drivers to have control when merging into traffic or reacting to unexpected traffic scenarios. The statement rejects the US car-as-identity value and fails to describe the allure of Golden Age speed. It more closely epitomizes how James Dean was speeding in his 1955 Porche Spyder on a little, lonely California road one Sunday morning and drove head on into a Ford Couple; it doesn’t speak to how torque enables a car to accelerate quickly and reach a high top speed in situations that require it.

Range anxiety: Drawing on the so-last-decade concern that a driver won’t be able to reach an intended destination without running out of power, the author says EVs don’t go as far as ICE vehicles, there aren’t as many “filling” stations, and it takes longer to charge an EV battery than to fill a gas tank. Testing is performed in more or less ideal conditions, the author claims, and “cold weather absolutely clobbers lithium-ion batteries.”

The reality is that when modern EVs were introduced in 2011, there were four models available with ranges spanning from 63 to 94 miles, with a median range of 68 miles. By 2021 the maximum range of an EV had more than quadrupled to 405 miles on a single charge, while the median range was 234. R&D has reduced the EV “clobbering” a whole lot.

More gas than charging stations: The author refers to a US Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center report, citing that are currently almost 56,000 charging stations in the U.S. with about 110,000 charging ports. By comparison, there are an estimated 110,000-150,000 gas stations, almost all of which have multiple pumps.

As with any transition to new technology, it’s a fact that more charging stations are needed. The goal is to install 500,000 public chargers nationwide by 2030. It’s easy to forget that early cars had a permanently-installed compartment along the running board that held gasoline; drivers accepted that they would have to carry along extra gas as they traveled. EV drivers get quickly familiar with EV charger location apps.

An EV can be a second car: The author outlines how individuals “probably don’t want to have an EV as your sole car anymore than you would want a 2-seater sports car with a trunk just big enough for golf clubs.”

Talk about comparing apples to a steak! Using the false equivalent of relating size as comparison here fails to recognize an EV’s high tech, quiet ride, easy and clean home charging, regenerative braking, and so much more. It also, quite sadly, does The American Conservative’s audience a disservice by not helping to reveal the benefits of EVs in a concise, digestible fashion.

What’s Good about EVs?

The editorial in The American Conservative does make some concessions to the power and place of EVs. The positive comments are quick and relatively hidden, so they require a close reading.

Torque works with trucks: Torque “means you can pull heavy loads without going through a mess of gears.” The author admits that “short-haul electric trucks and buses are becoming popular.”

Fuel cost comparison: “Where the EV is supposed to pay off is operational costs,” the author concedes though also admonishes that “in terms of fueling, the calculations have myriad variables.” Deciding to look to “Car & Driver to actually crunch the numbers rather than some presumably biased entity such as environmentalist groups,” the author weakly grabs onto the point that “electric utility rates in the United States vary wildly.”

Lower ongoing and maintenance costs of EVs: The author explains that EVs have “vastly fewer parts” than ICE vehicles, the latter of which “typically have about 30,000 components.” Since “fewer moving parts means less maintenance and breakage,” the annual cost advantage clearly goes to EVs. Yeah, that one is hard to argue.

EVs will ultimately prevail: The author acquiesces that EVs are the personal transportation vehicle of the future. Not wanting to relinquish the love of ICEs, however, the author continues on that subsidies and mandates need to stop, alternatives to lithium-ion batteries must become available, and more practical clean energy in the form of “next-generation small modular nuclear plants” need to be built.

The author needs to do much more research in all these areas, especially about small modular nuclear plants. “Because of their smaller size, small modular reactors will experience more neutron leakage than conventional reactors. This increased leakage affects the amount and composition of their waste streams,” according to recent research at Stanford.

What Does The American Conservative Stand For?

The American Conservative is a magazine that says it’s “not like other publications that call themselves ‘conservative’.” They prefer “ideas over ideology; principles over party.”

They have been appalled “by the sins, follies, and deceptions” of the following.

  • “Neoconservatism:”  The neocons formed in opposition to the free love movement of the 1960s and solidified under President Ronald Reagan and his 1980s aggressive and ambitious approach to the Cold War.
  • “By the disastrous war in Iraq and compulsive meddling around the globe:” In 2003, US forces invaded Iraq, vowing to destroy Iraqi weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and end the dictatorial rule of Saddam Hussein, yet WMD intelligence proved illusory. Since then there have been over 4,700 US and allied troops and more than 100,000 Iraqi civilians deaths.
  • “By disrespect for the Bill of Rights:” Okay, well, we could certainly argue that privileged groups receive special interpretation of the Bill of Rights, but we’ll let it go for today.
  • “By the Washington-knows-best philosophy manifested in such centralizing laws as the No Child Left Behind Act:” Originally designed with the purpose to improve US students’ international competitiveness in reading and math, NCLB failed to provide resources to schools serving disadvantaged, struggling students; neglected to create real-world applications and, instead, focused on rote testing; and didn’t incentify high-performing adults into the teaching profession.
  • “By a ‘too big to fail’ bias that privileged Wall Street over the small independent businesses, farms, and cooperative ventures that are the soul of the American economy:” George W. Bush initiated the government rescue of the auto companies and the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) to give banks fresh capital after a credit squeeze triggered by toxic mortgage-related assets.

Hey, most of us here who are writers or followers of CleanTechnica would agree with the platforms of The American Conservative, regardless of our political affiliations. But we want readers to embrace EVs through factual analysis rather than yesterday’s misnomers.


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