Detroit – While Big Government, Big Pharma, and Big Insurance have been in Washington trying to figure out how to force a health-care mandate on consumers , Big Government, Big Auto, and Big Utility have been in Detroit this week wrestling with how to entice customers to buy electric cars.
“It all gets down to those messy ol’ consumers. We can’t live without them,” said David Cole, auto analyst and moderator of this week’s “The Business of Plugging In” conference, sponsored by General Motors, the University of Michigan, DTE Energy utility, and the Michigan Public Service Commission.
Those messy consumers are a problem for the central planners in the Obama administration, because they continue to inexplicably resist alternative technologies that are more expensive, less reliable, and purportedly better for the planet. While Washington has tried to sweeten the deal with a $7,500 federal tax credit to buy plug-in electrics, GM VP for global program management Jonathan Lauckner admitted this week that Uncle Sugar’s going to have to cough up more.
“The costs are very high. The volumes are low,” Lauckner said to an audience of industry insiders, government bureaucrats, and green investors. “We are competing against a technology, the internal combustion engine (ICE), that has been continuously developed and has a 100-year head start.”
Actually, Lauckner has that last part wrong. The battery-powered auto has been around longer than the ICE, losing the battle of the power plants when Henry Ford introduced a cheap, mass-produced gas-powered auto in 1910. Electrics have been eating ICE dust ever since.
Nevertheless, a parade of politicians and CEOs have promised this week that electric cars are coming . . . if only consumers could be “educated.” Perhaps the Obama administration will just have to add economic freedom to its growing enemies list, and mandate that Americans buy electric cars.