(CITY JOURNAL) -- Electric vehicles stand at the center of every “green energy” initiative. Multiple jurisdictions mandate and subsidize the inevitable transition to “clean” transportation. Some policymakers have gone further, setting deadlines for outright bans on the internal-combustion engine (ICE), and Green pundits regularly issue forecasts promising the imminent dominance of electric vehicles (EVs).
The EV is central to the notion that we’re on the cusp of a grand shift to a “new-energy economy.” In addition to its putative environmental benefits, the EV, we’re told, is a better machine than an ICE. It’s easier to manufacture, uses less labor, and will—eventually—cost less. Since consumers will soon demand an all-EV future, we should embrace policies to accelerate the transition.
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Rarely have so many claims about a product been so wrong. The only unequivocal fact in the EV narrative is that more EVs exist today—approximately 4 million—than ever before. Lithium-battery chemistry—the inventors of which received the 2019 chemistry Nobel Prize—along with advances in power electronics, has made it possible to build practical, if expensive, electric cars.