Gov. Roy Cooper wants 50 percent of new car sales in North Carolina to be electric vehicles (EVs) by 2030, and amid his Covid-fueled mania of releasing executive orders, he had issued one to demand such an outcome. In the early days of Covid, Cooper had also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the governor of California, Gavin Newsom, to have California’s regulations of electric trucks and buses apply to North Carolina also. Speaking of understanding, however, neither governor appeared to have one regarding the separation of powers in North Carolina, but fortunately for North Carolinians, the General Assembly did.

Pres. Joe Biden wants 50 percent of new car sales in the United States to be electric vehicles by 2030. Going much further, Biden’s Environmental Protection Agency has proposed excessively stringent tailpipe regulations to try to force fully two-thirds of all car sales to be EVs by 2032 or else fine manufacturers. The misnamed “Inflation Reduction Act” of 2022 extended generous tax credits to consumers for EV purchases to try to reduce some of their sticker shock compared with that caused by new gasoline-powered automobiles.

Market preferences, however, cannot be handed down from on high. That being the case, leaders who find they cannot make people adopt their own preferences sometimes take the next illogical step: make other people’s choices harder to get. They usually try to accomplish that step through overregulating people’s choices, larding their preference with so many incentives as to make them far more price-competitive with the people’s preferences, and even going so far as to outlaw what people have been choosing instead.

The Biden administration’s EV plan is to pursue all three of these options simultaneously. How’s it going? Here are some recent headlines:

  • Mercedes-Benz has dramatically pulled back from its boasts of sporting an all-electric fleet by 2030. CEO Ola Källenius announced that the company would now be making gas-powered cars “well in the 2030s” and that the market was “years away” from when EV prices would fall to the same level as that of conventional automobiles.
  • Ford recently announced it was slowing investment in EVs and won’t launch the next generation of EVs till “they can be profitable,” noting that the Model E was losing an average of $47,000 per vehicle. Ford also had to drop prices on electric F-150 pickups — by $10,000! — in the hopes of finding purchasers. Even the New York Times reported on the “particularly disappointing” market for electric pickup trucks in general. It seems that “electric pickups suffer sharply reduced range when drivers use them for the kinds of things people buy trucks for: to haul heavy stuff, tow trailers, and drive in nasty weather.”
  • Despite having spent “billions of dollars on research and development” already, Apple recently announced it was ending its decade-old project to build EVs — an effort, the Wall Street Journal explained, “once seen as having the potential to transform the auto industry.”
  • According to WLOS, three of the five electric buses purchased by the City of Asheville have been completely unusable. The city is losing millions of dollars on the buses: the original $617,000 price tag for each bus, $200,000 on each charger, $118,000 for each battery lease, and $251,000 for maintenance. Even the two working buses, however, can get only about 78 miles in the winter before needing to spend loads of down time in recharging.
  • On March 6, New Hanover County Commissioner Dane Scalise wrote in Carolina Journal cautioning local governments against imposing EV mandates. He gave several reasons but brought it back to a fuller understanding of why “the free market is uniquely qualified and better suited than the government to anticipate and satisfy consumer demand.” As he explained, “The market is a second-by-second aggregation of countless private actions, while government action is based on the limited knowledge of a very limited number of actors at a specific moment in time.”

When Scarecrow from “The Wizard of Oz” lamented “If I only had a brain,” he noted that “it would be awful pleasin’ to reason out the reason for things I can’t explain.” He was more self-aware than the Biden bureaucrats unable to suss out why they cannot make people choose to buy — nor suppliers choose to supply — EVs to the arbitrary levels they demand.

Morgan Stanley, Mercedes-Benz, Apple, Commissioner Scalise, and others know the reason: customer needs and market conditions, not the government, are what ultimately determine the market for vehicles.