Minister for High Energy Prices with his $280,000 Ford F-150 EV Ute

The problem for ministers like Chris Bowen (pictured above) is that most consumers just won’t buy EVs.

Essentially, they are impractical in a country like Australia.

But it’s not just in Australia – EV sales are dropping worldwide, and for very good reasons:

They are hugely expensive. For example, prices for the Ford F-150 Lightning start from $224,990 before on-road costs for the standard model, and rise to $254,990 plus on-road costs for the top-spec extended range. Total cost for the top of the range model will be in the vicinity of $280,000.

They are a constant nuisance due to the ongoing need to find suitable charging stations – and then having to wait for the batteries to get charged.

They cause ‘range anxiety’, which for some people is quite traumatic, especially when travelling long distances in open country and not knowing if the nearest charging facility is open and readily accessible.

Smaller models are almost totally unsuitable for carrying or pulling heavy loads.

The lithium-ion batteries can self-ignite when being charged. This is particularly dangerous when charging at home or in an underground parking facility.

Batteries cost a fortune to replace and only last for about 10 years with the average warranty of just 8 years. Buying a second-hand EV probably means the battery will need to be replaced by the new owner.

Repair costs can be very expensive, especially if the battery is damaged.

Insurance costs are increasing – for a combination of the above reasons.

Resale and trade-in values are decreasing and some dealers won’t even accept them as trade-ins.

And as soon as our federal election is over, EV owners will very likely be hit with a national road usage tax.

There is some degree of pushback in the UK with their Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, Claire Coutinho, recently criticising what she called the “net zero leviathan of central planning” and said that products designed to meet this target “should not be forced on consumers”.

Although UK’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak moved from 2030 to 2035 the date by which all manufacturers would be required to stop selling any new vehicles that were not purely electric, the elaborate system of penalties remained fully in place.

So, this year, manufacturers are obliged to ensure that at least 22% of their sales are of EVs, and for each and every non-electric car sold that breaches the target, they are liable to a fine of £15,000 (AUD 28,000).

The requirement ratchets up every year, so that by 2030 their sales must be at least 80 per cent EVs (not even hybrids qualify), or else.

Stellantis, which owns Vauxhall, Peugeot, Citroën and Fiat, issued a statement warning that “clarity and reasonable anticipation are important”.

Its Chairman, Carlos Tavares, recently said the law fining companies for selling cars that did not meet the EV quota was “terrible for the UK”, and that “I’m not going to sell cars at a loss”.

To no sensible person’s surprise, consumers have been deterred by a combination of higher purchase prices, range anxiety and plummeting resale values, largely due to increasing awareness of the prohibitive costs if the battery needs replacing.

The Stellantis boss now concedes that the “natural” market share for EVs in the UK is about half what he is being required to sell under the regulations, which are starting to severely impact on his company’s profit margins.

In other words, this is exactly the sort of “forcing” of products onto the consumer that Claire Coutinho says the UK government shouldn’t be doing.

This is not a British problem alone. The EU has an almost identical policy.

In Germany the European election manifesto of the centre-right Christian Democrats declared: “We want to abandon the ban on combustion engines and preserve Germany’s cutting-edge combustion technology.”

As things stand, China will be the only winner. It, uniquely, is able to sell EVs more cheaply than the equivalent combustion engine models, and is about to flood European markets.

The EU will soon be forced to choose between its vaunted commitment to fighting climate change and the existence of its own car manufacturing businesses.

If only it — and our own government — had listened to Akio Toyoda.

In January the chairman of Toyota (grandson of its founder) told employees in a Q&A session that: “Customers and the market will decide, not regulations or political power.”

This has now dawned on one of the world’s largest car leasing companies, Hertz – and its shareholders.

Recently, its share price fell by a quarter as it announced a sell-off of many thousands of Teslas that it had only recently acquired, absorbing a thumping loss.

And Tesla itself has just announced it will be dumping 14,000 employees, with Elon Musk firing his entire team responsible for its “supercharger network”.

What we are witnessing is an imminent business catastrophe impelled by a global corporate stampede: the herd was galvanised by governments, which have yet to recognise, let alone admit, their own responsibility.

In terms of global misallocation of capital, there has been nothing like it since the 1995-2000 dotcom bubble when investors pumped money into startups in the hope that these fledgling companies would soon turn a profit…..they didn’t.

The obvious thing for all western governments to do is to live up to Claire Coutinho’s words and abandon the attempt to force consumers to buy products they don’t entirely trust, which can only end terribly for the businesses involved.

No-one can see that happening in Australia while we have a complete dunce like Chris ‘Blackouts’ Bowen in charge of energy and climate change.

He needs to be moved to a different portfolio or the backbench and replaced with someone who understands the broader issues of the energy portfolio.

Bowen is obsessed with his ridiculous ‘climate crisis’ crusade and we are all suffering as a result – and it will only get worse under his mismanagement.

The ‘Net Zero’ concept also needs to be totally abandoned. There is simply no value in achieving it even if we could.

Australia only produces just over 1% of global CO2 emissions. So, even if we accept that human-induced CO2 makes a minor impact on global warming (and that’s a big ‘if’), nothing we do as a country will achieve anything worthwhile.

Thanks to Net Zero Watch ( https://www.netzerowatch.com ) and The Times newspaper for some of the content and Johannes Leak for his optimistic cartoon.

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