More EV Follies Down Under

Peter Smith07 Mar, 2024 4 Min Read
You'll buy those EVs and like 'em!

I once sold out of a stock which had made me a little money only to find next day its price shooting up on some piece of news. I would have made a killing if I’d waited a day. Bad timing. Chris Bowen, Australia’s obsessive minister for "climate change" and energy, exhibits bad timing. The difference is that he’s playing with other people’s money not his own. Mrs. Thatcher once said something about that.

From January next year, Bowen intends to impose a fuel emissions standard on new cars in an effort to encourage the uptake of electric vehicles (EVs). Just, as it so happens, when the United States appears to be about to pare back its intended strengthening of emission standards and car manufacturers, like GM and Ford, are cutting back on their overly-ambitious EV production targets. As Buck Throckmorton recently pointed out (“The End of the All-Electric Fantasy”), the jig's up when it comes to flooding roads with EVs. However, while reality bites, Bowen’s oblivious. He’s not for turning, to egregiously misapply a dictum of the aforementioned great lady.

Incidentally, no cars are made in Australia these days. Deindustrialization has been afoot for some time. Soaring power prices are giving it a fresh kick-along. Manufacturing of plastics is now under threat, to add to aluminum smelting, nickel refining, and paper manufacturing, which I mentioned in a previous Pipeline piece.

Takers now, not makers.

Pretty soon Oz will be a collection of wind turbines, solar panels, gas wells, mining quarries, farmlands, cafes and personal services. We’ll become like one of those third-world backwaters: having rich enclaves of primary production and mining while trying to attract first-world tourists to keep the masses employed in a "service economy."

In the meantime, Bowen isn’t content with driving out manufacturing industry by replacing reliable cheap coal power with unreliable expensive wind and solar power. He’s insistent that Aussies drive past empty factories in EVs. Thus the impending tailgate emissions standard. Which, in best snake-oil salesman style, is being sold as a boon to motorists. To wit:

The Albanese Government’s New Vehicle Efficiency Standard [works] by providing car companies with targets for average emissions per kilometer from new vehicles sold [it] will deliver more vehicles to Australia with the latest engine and design technologies to ensure lower fuel bills, meaning bigger savings at the petrol pump…by around 2028, Australians stand to save about $1000 per vehicle per year.

This conjured saving of $1,000 emerges, unmistakably, out of the same kind of modeling world used by Anthony Albanese to assure voters ninety-seven times before the May 2022 election that annual household electricity prices would fall by $275 by 2025. At this stage, prices are on track to have risen by about three-times $275 by 2025.

What do people who live in the real world, as distinct from the modeling world, think? Like, say, the Australasian Convenience and Petroleum Marketers Association, which represents distributors, wholesalers and retailers of petroleum products in Australia.

The standard induces price cross-subsidization so the overall standard can be met and penalties won’t be payable. Electric vehicles are highly prized in this setting. But for those models of cars with above-standard efficiency, prices will inevitably rise… speculation… of between $10,000 and $25,000 for some models.

Consequences, consequences. Studiously ignored by every leftist policymaker since Engels and Marx wrote The Communist Manifesto. For example, people will hang onto their existing cars longer rather than pay higher prices for new cars. Thus older cars on the road, more CO2 and less business for car dealers. Tradesmen will be particularly hard hit because they drive gas guzzlers. They’ll pass on to their customers the additional costs of their new vehicles when they eventually buy them. Some of those customers are businesses which will, in turn, pass on their increased costs.

We were wrong. So sue us.

And the point of this particular exercise in climate craziness? It's claimed that it will reduce CO2 emissions by 369 million tons in total by 2050. That’s an average of 14 million tons per year; just .004 percent of global emissions recorded in 2022. And, as global emissions are rising inexorably, it’s far less than .004 percent per year when measured over the next 26 years. Australia doing its sub-microscopic bit to bring down CO2, while China builds CO2-spewing coal-power plants as though they’re going out of style. Which, in the West, they are.

Climate cultists just don’t get it. Normal people don’t want what they’re selling. They don’t want intermittent expensive electricity. They don’t want the landscape ruined by wind turbines and solar eruptions and by massive transmission towers and wires. They don’t want to be denied the option of natural gas for cooking and heating. They don’t want industries fleeing to foreign parts. They don’t want EV’s foisted on them. That’s why the cultists in government have to impose mandates, rules and standards to advance their green dreams; and give bucket loads of taxpayer money to renewable-energy carpetbaggers. How have we got here?

After a career in economics, banking and payment-systems management, Peter Smith now blogs on the topics of the day. He writes for Quadrant, Australia’s leading conservative online site and magazine. He has written Bad Economics, of which, he notes, there is much.


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