Living in Paradise

Shockingly Unprepared

Shockingly Unprepared

It happens frequently around here. People rent golf carts, don’t listen to what Steve at Kappy’s tells them about how far the carts can be driven and end up out of juice in the middle of the island after several hours of fun.

I tell you this because golf carts are electric vehicles. What happens with a golf cart can happen with an electric car. So, while everyone in the Biden Administration is getting excited about electric vehicles, I’m pondering the realistic side of traveling without a tank.

For starters, you can’t just park your dead vehicle on the side of the road and walk a couple of miles to the nearest gas station for a couple of gallons of voltage. Will AAA have a fleet of electric trucks whose drivers are willing to sit around waiting for your car to recharge?

As a southwest Florida resident, my biggest nightmare is trying to evacuate in an electric car when a hurricane is bearing down on me. I might make it to Ocala on one overnight charge but then I’m toast. When everyone else is looking to charge their vehicle, where will I go?

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is a big advocate of electric vehicles. He says people will be saving money because they won’t have to buy gasoline.

“The people who stand to benefit most from owning an EV are often rural residents who have the most distances to drive, who burn the most gas, and underserved urban residents in areas where there are higher gas prices and lower income,” Buttigieg told MSNBC.

Today, a compact SUV/crossover costs about $31,000; an electric vehicle $42,000. What wage earner in a lower income bracket can afford an electric vehicle, and where will an apartment dweller in a big city plug in his or her car? And that’s if there are cars available to purchase. My man was at the Toyota dealership earlier this week to have our SUV serviced. There was not a new gasoline-powered car in the showroom, let alone an electric vehicle.

And Pete’s comment about rural residents who have the most distances to drive saving money? Oh yes, let the rural residents find themselves stranded on the side of the road when their pricy new vehicle runs out of juice.

There has also been talk about a $12,500 incentive for purchasing electric vehicles. It reminded me of one of my favorite electric car stories. It took place when the Obama Administration was trying to encourage folks to buy electric many years ago.

At that time, anyone who purchased an electric vehicle got an $8,000 rebate. My clever friend, a multi-millionaire, called the nearest golf car dealership and asked if their vehicles qualified for a rebate. They did, he was told, as long as they had turn signals and seatbelts.

“Load one up,” my friend told the dealer. He went over to pick up it up a couple of days later. He traded in his old golf cart, for which he got $1,000. He also avoided buying a new battery for his old cart. It would have been another $1,000. And he got a snazzy new red vehicle that cost him nothing. He called it his Obama Cart.

I’m not opposed to electric cars. I wouldn’t mind owning a Tesla. But it doesn’t feel that we are even close to being ready for electric cars to replace our gasoline-powered vehicles no matter how much we talk about it. In fact, we won’t be ready until someone figures out where all this extra electricity we’ll need is coming from….how we’ll get charging stations on every corner…how we can make the grid more reliable…how auto batteries will be disposed of safety? And on and on.

Instead of getting excited about electric vehicles, I’m for diverting a big part of our attention to encouraging the manufacture of semiconductor “chips” used in all sorts of important devices. Business writer Will Knight reported recently that only 12 percent of chips sold worldwide were made in the U. S. in 2019. That’s down from 37 percent in 1990. When the U. S. is dependent on other countries for essential items, we put ourselves at greater risk.

So many challenges; so few realistic plans.

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