It can’t be easy being an automobile executive nowadays. With the fast-paced life we live today it is difficult to predict the future six-months out, let alone several years down the pike. Imagine the pressure auto execs face having to approve spending billions of dollars on a new vehicle during a two-, three- or four-year period and not be sure if there will even be a market for the final product. To make decisions even more difficult, most automakers are now global businesses and must build vehicles that not only appeal to a large body of buyers, but also meet the government safety/environmental regulations and mandates around the globe while dealing with external forces like petroleum production interruptions and tariff tiffs. Which brings me to the topic of today’s article: the status of environmentally clean electric vehicles.
The debate over whether there is a future in electric vehicles (EVs) may be the discussion of the moment here in the U.S., but worldwide it seems that the debate is over and the automotive future is electric. Unfortunately, the decision-making process has become political, especially in the U.S. Here in the home market the politicians are debating whether to continue the present difficult-to-reach CAFE (corporate average fuel economy) figures established by the Obama administration (and supported by California and 13 other participating states), which encourages the development of clean EVs and is known as “Section 177,” or whether to roll back the CAFE figures to a figure automakers can more easily attain. Presently the final CAFE debate has been turned over to the courts to decide. The position of the U.S. government at the moment can be best revealed by the words of U. S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, who derided EVs in a recent press conference as “cars that American consumers do not want to buy or drive.”