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Automotive

The EV ‘Bloodbath’ Arrives Early

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From the Daily Caller News Foundation

By David Blackmon

 

Ever since March 16, when presidential candidate Donald Trump created a controversy by predicting President Joe Biden’s efforts to force Americans to convert their lives to electric-vehicle (EV) lifestyles would end in a “bloodbath” for the U.S. auto industry, the industry’s own disastrous results have consistently proven him accurate.

The latest example came this week when Ford Motor Company reported that it had somehow managed to lose $132,000 per unit sold during Q1 2024 in its Model e EV division. The disastrous first quarter results follow the equally disastrous results for 2023, when the company said it lost $4.7 billion in Model e for the full 12-month period.

While the company has remained profitable overall thanks to strong demand for its legacy internal combustion SUV, pickup, and heavy vehicle models, the string of major losses in its EV line led the company to announce a shift in strategic vision in early April. Ford CEO Jim Farley said then that the company would delay the introduction of additional planned all-electric models and scale back production of current models like the F-150 Lightning pickup while refocusing efforts on introducing new hybrid models across its business line.

General Motors reported it had good overall Q1 results, but they were based on strong sales of its gas-powered SUV and truck models, not its EVs. GM is so gun-shy about reporting EV-specific results that it doesn’t break them out in its quarterly reports, so there is no way of knowing what the real bottom line amounts to from that part of the business. This is possibly a practice Ford should consider adopting.

After reporting its own disappointing Q1 results in which adjusted earnings collapsed by 48% and deliveries dropped by 20% from the previous quarter, Tesla announced it is laying off 10 percent of its global workforce, including 2,688 employees at its Austin plant, where its vaunted Cybertruck is manufactured. Since its introduction in November, the Cybertruck has been beset by buyer complaints ranging from breakdowns within minutes after taking delivery, to its $3,000 camping tent feature failing to deploy, to an incident in which one buyer complained his vehicle shut down for 5 hours after he failed to put the truck in “carwash mode” before running it through a local car wash.

Meanwhile, international auto rental company Hertz is now fire selling its own fleet of Teslas and other EV models in its efforts to salvage a little final value from what is turning out to be a disastrous EV gamble. In a giant fit of green virtue-signaling, the company invested whole hog into the Biden subsidy program in 2021 with a mass purchase of as many as 100,000 Teslas and 50,000 Polestar models, only to find that customer demand for renting electric cars was as tepid as demand to buy them outright. For its troubles, Hertz reported it had lost $392 million during Q1, attributing $195 million of the loss to its EV struggles. Hertz’s share price plummeted by about 20% on April 25, and was down by 55% for the year.

If all this financial carnage does not yet constitute a “bloodbath” for the U.S. EV sector, it is difficult to imagine what would. But wait: It really isn’t all that hard to imagine at all, is it? When he used that term back in March, Trump was referring not just to the ruinous Biden subsidy program, but also to plans by China to establish an EV-manufacturing beachhead in Mexico, from which it would be able to flood the U.S. market with its cheap but high-quality electric models. That would definitely cause an already disastrous domestic EV market to get even worse, wouldn’t it?

The bottom line here is that it is becoming obvious even to ardent EV fans that US consumer demand for EVs has reached a peak long before the industry and government expected it would.

It’s a bit of a perfect storm, one that rent-seeking company executives and obliging policymakers brought upon themselves. Given that this outcome was highly predictable, with so many warning that it was in fact inevitable, a reckoning from investors and corporate boards and voters will soon come due. It could become a bloodbath of its own, and perhaps it should.

David Blackmon is an energy writer and consultant based in Texas. He spent 40 years in the oil and gas business, where he specialized in public policy and communications.

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Automotive

It’s Time To Abandon Reckless EV Mandates

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From Canadians for Affordable Energy

Dan McTeague

Written By Dan McTeague

Already, billions of tax dollars have been handed out in subsidies to companies that have no accountability to the Canadian taxpayer. This experiment in societal re-engineering will disproportionately harm Canadian workers and families, especially those who live in rural communities.

And it will surely fail

Canada is not nearly ready for the wholesale adoption of electric vehicles (EVs).

That was the message of the letter I sent to every member of Parliament recently, urging them to drop the “Electric Vehicle Availability Standard” introduced by the Trudeau government late last year. That’s the policy that mandates that all new vehicles sold in Canada must be electric by 2035. There is no way, considering the economic, technological and infrastructural realities of our country — and our world — where this is possible.

Stubbornly attempting to achieve this goal would do serious damage to our economy, leaving Canadian taxpayers on the hook for generations to come. Already, billions of tax dollars have been handed out in subsidies to companies that have no accountability to the Canadian taxpayer. This experiment in societal re-engineering will disproportionately harm Canadian workers and families, especially those who live in rural communities.

And it will surely fail. In my letter I highlight a few of the central reasons why staying the course on EV mandates by 2035 is extremely reckless. Right off the bat, the technology is simply not there for electric vehicles to be a reliable source of transportation in Canada’s climate. The batteries cannot hold their charge in frigid temperatures. Forcing Canadians to rely on vehicles that can’t handle our winters is irresponsible and dangerous.

Electric vehicles’ cost is another issue. Right now, the EV market relies heavily on government subsidies. These subsidies can’t last forever. But without them EVs are prohibitively expensive. Even with them, the costs of maintaining an EV are high. Replacing a damaged battery, for example, can cost upwards of $20,000. Mandating that people buy vehicles they can’t afford to either purchase in the first place or maintain if they do buy them is political malpractice.

A fact long ignored by decision-makers in Ottawa is that our electrical grid isn’t ready for the excess demand that would come with widespread EV adoption. These mandates, paired with the government’s goal of fully decarbonizing the grid by 2035, put us on a collision course with the reality of unreliable power. A grid powered, not by reliable fossil fuels, but by spotty wind and solar energy would be further burdened with millions of cars relying exclusively on electricity.

Beyond the electricity itself, the EV mandates will require additional transmission and distribution capacity. But there are no signs any plan is in place to expand our transmission capacity to meet the 2035 target.

The sheer number of new charging stations required by wholesale adoption of EVs will strain our distribution networks. Natural Resources Canada projections show that Canada will need between 442,000 and 469,000 public charging ports by 2035. At the moment, we have roughly 28,000. And that doesn’t include the private charging stations people will need to install at home. Closing that gap in such a tight time frame is almost certainly impossible.

All of those considerations aside, at a fundamental level the government’s push for electric vehicles encroaches on the operation of the free market, all in the name of emissions reductions. The Canadian economy is founded on the market principle that the consumer drives the economy (no pun intended). Thousands of times over, it has been shown that if there is enough demand for a product, supply soon follows. In the case of EVs, however, the federal government is operating under the assumption that if you somehow create a supply, that will inspire a demand.

This hasn’t worked in any of the countries where it’s been attempted, which is why nations around the world have started to tap the brakes on EV mandates. Decision-makers in Ottawa need to follow suit and abandon these reckless and costly mandates. Let the market decide when EVs are ready for prime time. In other words, let Canadians decide.

Dan McTeague is President of Canadians for Affordable Energy

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Automotive

Many Gen Z and millennial Canadians don’t believe in EV corporate welfare

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From the Fraser Institute

By Tegan Hill and Jake Fuss

The Parliamentary Budget Officer recently estimated federal government support for EV initiatives will cost Canadian taxpayers $31.4 billion, which represents roughly $1,043 per tax filer.

According to a new Leger poll, a significant percentage of Gen Z and millennial Canadians don’t believe that billions of dollars in government subsidies to build electric vehicle (EV) plants—including $5 billion to Honda, $13.2 billion to Volkswagen and $15 billion to Stellantis—will benefit them. And based on a large body of research, they’re right.

The poll, which surveyed Canadians aged 18 to 39 who are eligible to vote, found that only 32 per cent of respondents believe these subsidies (a.k.a. corporate welfare) will be of “significant benefit to your generation” while 28 per cent disagree and 25 per cent are on the fence.

Unfortunately, this type of taxpayer-funded corporate welfare isn’t new. The federal government spent an estimated $84.6 billion (adjusted for inflation) on business subsidies from 2007 to 2019, the last pre-COVID year of data. Over the same period, provincial and local governments spent another $302.9 billion on business subsidies for their favoured firms and industries. And these figures exclude other forms of government support such as loan guarantees, direct investments and regulatory privileges, so the actual cost of corporate welfare during this period was much higher.

The Trudeau government has shown a particular proclivity for corporate welfare. According to a recent study, federal subsidies have increased by 140 per cent from 2014/15 to 2023/24. But again, the money used to fund these subsidies isn’t free—its funded by taxpayers. The Parliamentary Budget Officer recently estimated federal government support for EV initiatives will cost Canadian taxpayers $31.4 billion, which represents roughly $1,043 per tax filer.

And Canadians are right to be skeptical. Despite what the Trudeau or provincial governments claim, there’s little to no evidence that corporate welfare creates jobs (on net) or produces widespread economic benefits.

Instead, by giving money to select firms, the government simply shifts jobs and investment away from other firms and industries—which are likely more productive, as they don’t require government funding to be economically viable—to the government’s preferred industries and firms, circumventing the preferences of consumers and investors. If Honda, Volkswagen and Stellantis are unwilling to build their EV battery plants in Canada without corporate welfare, that sends a strong signal that those projects make little economic sense.

Finally, higher taxes (or lower government spending in other areas) ultimately fund corporate welfare. And higher taxes depress economic activity—the higher the rates, the more economic activity is discouraged.

Unfortunately, the Trudeau government believes it knows better than investors and entrepreneurs, so it continues to use taxpayer money to allocate scarce resources—including labour—to their favoured projects and industries. And since politicians spend other people’s money, they have little incentive to be careful investors.

Canadians, including young Canadians, are right to be skeptical of corporate welfare. As the evidence suggests, there’s little reason to think it will lead to any economic benefit for them.

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