California already accounts for the majority of the demand for EVs in the country, capturing over 40 percent of the market share.
Yet despite Californian’s desire to virtue signal, Newsom’s push for zero-emission roadways is hitting some major roadblocks. Mostly because, like many of his policies, they are good in theory, but terrible in practice.
Like many of his other grand visions, this one will also fall flat.
The Real Inconvenient Truth
Newsom – and the green movement in general – loves to pitch EV policy as the ultimate no-cost alternative to “dirty” energy sources such as gas.
Like most progressive policies, the utopian solution without sacrifice is a lie.
Almost every EV battery requires cobalt, a rare and expensive mineral found mostly in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The African country is by far the world’s largest producer accounting for roughly 70 percent of global production with 130,000 metric tons.
The DRC is also rich in other natural resources such as copper, zinc, coltan, cassiterite, gold, bauxite, diamond, oil, and gas. Yet it is also one of the poorest countries in the world, with a gross national income of approximately $550 per person as measured in U.S. dollars.
Not only are miners, including children, essentially working as slaves, risking their lives. Mining for these natural resources is an extremely dangerous endeavor, one that kills up to 2,000 illegal miners a year according to Siddarth Kara, author of the book Cobalt Red: How the Blood of the Congo Powers Our Lives.
Yet, no one, particularly Governor Gavin Newsom, wants to talk about this.
The China Problem
Although far behind the Congo, Russia and China are also in the top ten list of producers, raising geopolitical concerns around this valuable mineral. While China is at the bottom of the list, producing only 2,200 MT, the country leads the world in refined cobalt production at 70 percent of the total global supply with most of the raw material coming from the Congo. How’s that for a double human rights whammy?
China is also the top consumer of cobalt with most of it used to supply the rechargeable battery industry. The push for EVs drives the U.S. increasingly into the arms of the CCP.
While some companies have created batteries without cobalt, these have not proven to provide the necessary energy to power a car for any significant distance.
EVs Are Cost – and Distance – Prohibitive
EVs are not exactly the ideal vehicle to hit the open road. Currently, the Lucid Air is the car that can go the farthest on a single charge – 516 miles or approximately the distance from San Diego to San Francisco. The car costs $139,650. The Tesla S Model will take you 405 miles on a single charge, or about the distance from Los Angeles to San Francisco and the vehicle sells to the tune of almost $90,000.
The most reasonably priced EVs – and by reasonable, I mean the cheapest of the models like the Chevy Bolt (which is set to be discontinued to make room for other electric vehicle models from Chevy) or the Nissan Leaf, which run between $26,000 and $30,000 – have a maximum range closer to 230 miles which, if driving at 65mph is approximately 3.5 hours.
Who drives at 65mph on an open freeway? The minimum range barely gets you a day in Los Angeles.
This is before, like any battery, the cells lose their maximum charging capacity, which will decrease maximum driving distances.
Like any battery, EV batteries eventually go kaput. Their average life span is ten years.
Recycling EV batteries has been explored and companies continue to try to innovate to secure a circular economy around them. This would mean the original resources used to make one EV battery could be reused and recycled to make new ones.
However, it remains a high-cost, low-benefit endeavor. Not to mention dangerous. Lithium-ion batteries are toxic and can cause destructive fires that spread quickly, particularly when they are stored together.
No More Roadtrips
Then there’s the issue of charging stations and availability. You can all but forget about cross country – or even interstate – road trips, Chevy Chase style. The classic symbol of American freedom and family-favorite summer pastime is not possible with an EV.
And while most people who can afford the higher performing EVs can also afford to charge them in their driveway in their gated communities, imagine an apartment building with 500 residents all trying to charge their vehicles overnight. The infrastructure investments would significantly raise the cost of housing in a state already plagued by unaffordable rents.
EVs are a classic example of NIMBY (Not in My Backyard) thinking. It’s okay to pollute the air, strip the earth of natural resources, and employ slave labor in other countries – as long I am free from the guilt of pollution. Ironic, considering it’s safe to bet over half of California’s Tesla owners also have a “Black Lives Matter” sign in their yard.
The truth is there is no perfect solution. As long as humans roam the earth, we will be involved in the consumption of natural resources. Our job is not to reverse this natural order but to be responsible for its participation. Not to be environmentalists, but good stewards of our planet. We can’t do that if we don’t know the true consequences of our decisions.
Jennifer Galardi is the politics and culture editor for 19Fortyfive. She has a Master’s in Public Policy from Pepperdine University and produces and hosts the podcast Connection with conversations that address health, culture, politics, and policy. In a previous life, she wrote for publications in the health, fitness, and nutrition space. In addition, her pieces have been published in the Epoch Times and Pepperdine Policy Review. You can follow her on Instagram and Twitter.