The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Electric Vehicles We Cannot Afford

Apr 17, 2023

The Biden administration’s EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has proposed stronger vehicle tailpipe pollution rules that would have to be met by the year 2032. To reach that new standard, it would mean that at least 67% of the new passenger vehicles (cars, SUVs and pickup trucks) that are sold in 2032 would have to be electric.

Biden and the EPA are proposing these rules in the name of protecting the environment—cutting down on the greenhouse gases that lead to the climate change that is warming the planet. There is no doubt that emissions of gas-powered vehicles are at least one of the causes of climate change. And there is no doubt that humanity is headed for an environmental disaster unless the buildup of greenhouse gases is slowed down and reversed.

Electric-powered vehicles are being proposed as one of the solutions. Today less than 6% of new vehicles sold are electric. And there are many problems that stand in the way of electric vehicles being sold more widely. The lack of infrastructure, for one. Today there are about 130,000 public electric charging stations in this country. It is estimated that at least 15 times that many public charging stations would be needed by 2030, in addition to private home and garage charging. And even with more charging stations, the electric grid today is not capable of providing the increased electricity that would be needed.

It is not even clear how much increased electric vehicles would protect the environment. How would the increased electricity be generated? Today the majority of electricity is produced by burning coal and natural gas which also produces greenhouse gases. The mining of the metals and minerals, like lithium, that are needed for electric vehicle batteries can also be very destructive to the environment.

Not as much is said about these problems. But the Biden administration today is proposing new rules that would force most people to buy high-priced electric vehicles, or not have a vehicle at all.

How the hell are ordinary working people supposed to afford to buy an electric vehicle when the average price today is $61,448? Many people can’t even afford to buy a new gas-powered vehicle today with an average price of $49,507.

Are the new rules proposed by the EPA really a protection of the environment? Well, they certainly are a protection of the profits of the auto companies. The auto companies today have made at least a certain amount of investment toward producing some electric vehicles and they want to make a high profit off these investments. Forcing people to buy electric vehicles at high prices would protect auto company profits, even if it means fewer people can afford to buy any new vehicle at all.

The decisions made by capitalists in their drive for profit have led the world to the brink of environmental disaster. The government that works for these profit-seeking capitalists is never going to provide the answers to solve the environmental crisis we are facing.