General Motors now offers to sell you a partially electric-motored car for $41,000. Nissan will sell you an all-electric one for $32,780.
If you are among the few who could even think about forking over that much money for an automobile, here are four questions about what you’re buying:
1) Isn’t it ostrichware? As the smug owner of the Prius pictured at left shouts through his/her vanity plate, isn’t your main motivation for buying a Volt or a Leaf (and Big Brother must be laughing his ass off at that name for an automobile!) to make yourself feel that you’ve thereby done your part to help confront and reform the institutions that are imperiling humanity’s energy and ecological future? And isn’t that a rather pathetic conclusion to draw? Buying a 3,500-pound box of steel, plastic, and lithium is somehow a serious contribution to making a sustainable world? Really?
2) Are you sure it’s not vaporware? The outgoing CEO of GM once said he knew GM “had to have an electric car,” and, by that, he meant he knew it was an important gesture to show that General Motors is changing. No serious analyst of electric cars thinks they will comprise more than ten percent of the U.S. vehicle fleet in the foreseeable future. In fact, it isn’t at all proven that they even could, given their radical demands on our decrepit electricity-transmission infrastructure. So, have you asked yourself whether, by buying an electric car, you might actually be volunteering to serve as a useful rolling distraction on behalf of our corporate overlords, whose intent is to ride cars-first transportation for as long as they possibly can?
3) Where’s your theory of transition? It is inherently un-serious to presume that an individual purchase of any product — not to say a two-ton grocery-fetcher — equals a real contribution to getting humanity decently and humanely across the coming energy transition. No proponent of the electric car ever talks about this, for the excellent reason that cars-first transportation is simply not even imaginably sane, given what we’re up against.
4) Who will fix your crashed Volt or Leaf? What will happen when your battery pack sheers off your frame in a rear-ender? How much will you have to pay to insure against that event and others like it?