President Obama stopped by Argonne National Laboratory in his Chicago hometown on Friday to demand Americans hand over another $2 billion in subsidies for electric cars. Liberals love trading in sensible sedans for these trendy “green” golf carts. Being seen behind the wheel of a quirky looking hybrid tells the world that “I care” about the environment.
Such motorists just don’t care enough to use their own money. So Mr. Obama seeks another cash infusion for “what should be our top priority as a nation.” It’s not as if Uncle Sam has been ignoring the toy cars. Taxpayers already offset $7,500 of the cost of every hybrid through a federal tax credit at a total cost of $2 billion. In addition, many states offer similar incentives of their own. The 2009 stimulus bill poured $2 billion into the development and manufacture of electric-car batteries and other components, and the Energy Department’s “advanced-technology vehicle manufacturing program” offers up to $25 billion in direct federal loans to electric car makers. Moreover, $400,000 has been wasted on “education projects” to promote electric cars.
Such princely subsidies haven’t sparked a lot of interest among consumers. The Congressional Budget Office noted in a report last year that electric cars are so much more expensive to produce that “the credits would have to be two or three times as large as they are now to make those vehicles cost-competitive” with reliable, gasoline-powered sedans. The auditors calculated a plug-in hybrid costs $19,000 more to produce, but over the car’s 150,000-mile life span it would only save $7,000 in reduced fuel consumption. Only people who can’t do math buy them.