Be Honest About What EVs Can and Cannot Do | Opinion

The following is a lightly edited transcript of remarks made by Ashley Nunes during a Newsweek podcast debate about EVs being the future of transportation. You can listen to the podcast here:

Electric vehicles seem like a good idea, because we are often told that they're cleaner to drive and cheaper to own. But when you dig a little deeper, a different truth emerges. Are EVs cleaner than existing alternatives? Not in China, or the United States — where major auto markets derive the bulk of their power from coal.

Joe Biden Administration Disapproves of Tesla Xinjiang
An electric vehicle is displayed inside Tesla's new dealership in Urumqi, Xinjiang, China, on its first day of operations on December 31, 2021. The carmaker's decision to open a showroom in Xinjiang has drawn criticism due to Beijing's repressive policies against Uyghurs in the region. Weibo/Tesla

Are EVs cheaper to operate? Yes, but only if you hold onto those cars for a longer period of time, because they have higher upfront costs. Proponents of EVs say that things will get better over time, because they've become cleaner, and costs have dropped. But past performance is certainly no guarantee of future return. I'm not saying that driving gas guzzlers is the way to go; I just think that we should be honest with the public about what EVs can and cannot do, particularly when public funds are used to back climate policies.

Ashley Nunes is Director of Competition Policy at the R Street Institute, and a research fellow at Harvard Law School.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.