What If Electric Cars Were the Norm and Gasoline Cars Tried to Enter the Market?

That's the question Matthew Yglesias asks himself when trying to determine why editorialist Charles Lane hates electric cars.

Published: 14-Nov-2013

For reasons unknown to me, Charles Lane has a bee in his bonnet about electric cars. He hates them. Really passionately. And he doesn't recognize this hatred of electric cars as a kind of idiosyncracy of his (I hate dill, these things happen) and accept that most people won't share it. He instead insists that other people's failure to share his obsessive hatred of electric cars reflects a deep and profound kind of character flaw.

Thus we've had "Cold Truths About Electric Cars Cold Weather Shortcomings," "The Leaf: Electric Except When It's Diesel?," "Electric Cars and Liberals' Refusal to Accept Science," "The Electric Car Mistake," and now "Liberals' Investment Drives Tesla's Survival" which features a hilarious piece of projection where he asserts that "Tesla’s corporate fate is ultimately less interesting than the fact that so many people, especially progressives, have become so deeply invested in it—politically and psychologically, if not financially."

In fact, the exact opposite is the case. I'm perfectly prepared to agree with Charles Lane that a federal tax credit of $7,500 per fully electric vehicle is not a particularly cost-effective environmental program (see this CBO presentation for details). But honestly, what is the big deal here? Tesla Motors is on track to sell about 20,000 Model S vehicles in the United States in 2013. The tax credits to subsidize that purchase will cost the federal government about $150 million in 2013. This comes at a time when, due to the combination of high unemployment and low inflation, there would be no benefits whatsoever to a lower federal deficit. Eliminating the tax credit would accomplish nothing, at all, for the public interest.

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