Autocrats Coming After Autos
In his third autobiography, former President Barack Obama took Americans to task for liking “cheap gas and big cars” more than “the environment.” That a man with an 8,000-square-foot home in Washington, DC, and a nearly 7,000-square-foot mansion on 29 acres in Martha’s Vineyard would criticize ordinary Americans for the size of their “carbon footprints” epitomizes the gargantuan disconnect between increasingly arrogant American oligarchs and the “bitter clingers” they clearly disdain. It is that arrogance that drives their plans to eliminate personal transportation as American have come to know it — even if it means suspending reality to do so.
Thus, we have imperious fops like UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and California Governor Gavin Newsom promising to phase out gasoline- and diesel-powered cars in the next 10 to 15 years as part of the “green revolution” they wish to impose on their respective “subjects,” whether they like it or not. “Our green industrial revolution will be powered by the wind turbines of Scotland and the North East, propelled by the electric vehicles made in the Midlands and advanced by the latest technologies developed in Wales, so we can look ahead to a more prosperous, greener future,” opined Johnson. Newsom declared, “We just want to fundamentally reconcile the fact we’re no longer living in 19th century, and we don’t need to drill things or extract things in order to advance our economic goals and advance our mobility needs.”
That neither man is remotely acquainted with reality should surprise no one. Of all the zealots who wish to impose their worldview on the benighted masses, none are quite as fervent as the eco-warriors who insist technological advances can simply be willed into existence within an arbitrary timeframe.
Unfortunately for them, reality intrudes. Last year, Professor Richard Herrington of the Natural History Museum in London sent a letter to the British government after he and his colleagues analyzed what it would take to convert that nation’s cars to electric vehicles (EVs) by 2050, not 2035. They concluded that such a conversion would require, based on 2018 mining levels, the entire world’s production of neodymium, three-quarters of its lithium production, and at least half of its copper production to produce the required number of EVs — just for the UK.
America? “The U.S. has about 276 million registered motor vehicles, or roughly nine times as many vehicles as the U.K.,” explains columnist Robert Bryce. “Thus, if Herrington’s numbers are right, electrifying all U.S. motor vehicles would require roughly 18 times the world’s current cobalt production, about nine times global neodymium output, nearly seven times global lithium production, and about four times world copper production.”
Professor Herrington is hardly an outlier. A 2015 study by the Union of Concerned Scientists revealed that manufacturing a midsize EV would produce about 15% more emissions than the process of building an internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle. For larger EVs with larger batteries, that gap could grow to 68% or more.
Besides, does anyone with even a modicum of common sense consider mining to be a “green” activity? Moreover, as Bryce also points out, internal combustion engines are more efficient than batteries in terms of “gravimetric energy density,” or the amount of energy contained per kilogram; the engines themselves are getting more efficient; and ICE vehicles are far easier to refuel — as in the five minutes it takes to fill a gas tank compared with hours it takes to recharge an EV.
Yet Bryce is also somewhat naive, noting that “EVs are still too expensive for low- and middle-income consumers.” For the self-anointed power-mongers and their totalitarian ambitions, vehicles priced beyond the reach of ordinary citizens is a feature, not a bug, in a brave new world where they promise “you’ll own nothing, and you’ll be happy.”
Automotive expert Eric Peters sees the proverbial writing on the wall, noting that “by 2030 not much else that isn’t electric will be built,” and the few cars that aren’t “will have been driven off the roads entirely by regulatory fiat and extortionate/punitive gas and registration fees” by 2040.
In short, he sees a world where government-imposed “polluter taxes” raise gas prices to $10 per gallon, and/or ICE vehicle registration fees to $5,000 per year, making such a vehicle unaffordable for the vast majority of car owners.
Yet that extortionist agenda of government-mandated ICE vehicle obsolescence is only part of the equation. Because consumers will be trapped between the artificially inflated expenses of an ICE vehicle and an equally unaffordable EV, the economic “solution” will be the elimination of car ownership itself. It will be replaced, Peters warns, by a rental system producing “serial debt in exchange for access to transportation as defined, delimited and controlled by the owner thereof, which probably won’t be you.”
An added “bonus”? Because an EV is “electronic as well as electric,” it can be controlled by someone “other-than-the-owner,” he adds.
Virtue-signaling auto manufacturers are more than happy to accommodate the oligarchs. Volkswagen, Honda, GM, Ford, Daimler, Toyota, and Tesla are all jumping on the EV bandwagon in a big way.
Coordinated subterfuge is also part of the mix. The move to EVs is being framed as an effort to prevent China from dominating the market. “In a future driven by electric vehicles, China is poised to dominate if the U.S. does not transform its automobile industry in coming years,” asserts CNBC columnist Evelyn Cheng.
In the coming years? As Americans discovered during the pandemic, the same “citizens of the world” who made our nation beholden to medical supply chains controlled by communist thugs are facing the same reality with regard to EVs. Two Chinese companies, Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL) and BYD, account for a third of the market in the electric batteries that power EVs, and all six of the major battery manufacturers are Asian companies.
It gets worse. According to a report titled “The Commanding Heights of Global Transportation” released in September by Washington, DC-based advocacy group Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE), there are 142 lithium-ion battery megafactories under construction globally. Of those, 107 are being built for China — versus just nine for the U.S.
Do any of our elites remember how government-subsidized Chinese steel devastated our domestic steel industry? Do they care that the same thing could happen to the EV market?
The answer is no. Our elitist class has made it clear that patriotism and national security take a back seat to self-enrichment and oligarchic control. Self-enrichment and control they self-aggrandizingly frame as “saving the planet.”
“Transportation control [is] one of the cogs in their new world construct,” columnist Peter Skurkiss explains. “The end game of EVs, the Green New Deal, the Paris Climate Accord, facial recognition AI, and possibly things like vaccination permits for travel is more control and power for the elite and less freedom for the rest of us. This highway to the future is leading us straight back to serfdom.”