The perfect use case for EVs is a suburban commuter car for high-income people who are able to charge their car at home and drive only a few miles for work and errands before returning home to charge again. But that situation doesn’t work for everyone. Besides the cost, the average cost of a new EV is over $53,000, EV ownership is much more challenging for people who want to take road trips or people who need to tow things.
While most CEOs of car companies paper over the challenges of EV charging, the CEO of Ford, Jim Farley, recently did a road trip and was honest about charging challenges. Farley drove an electric F-150 from the San Francisco Bay area to Los Angeles and then to Las Vegas—a trip of about 650 miles. In some configurations of the F-150 with an internal combustion engine, you can do this entire trip on a single tank of gas (such as the 3.0-liter PowerStroke V6). But the EV version of the F-150 only has a range of 230 miles on the standard version and up to 320 miles on the pricier versions. Because of the limited range, Farley had to charge his F-150 multiple times and experienced some challenges.
Farley said, “I stopped at one of the most popular charging sites in the country on the I-5 in Coalinga…and I went to a low-speed charger and it took me about 40 minutes to get 40 percent. But, it was a really good reality check of the challenges of what our customers go through and the importance of fast charging and what we are going to have to do to improve the charging experience.”
Unlike other auto CEOs, Farley admits that there are serious challenges with EVs. It’s likely because the F-series trucks are Ford’s cash cow and EVs aren’t a good replacement for many truck applications. Farley was on Barron’s Roundtable on FoxBusiness and was asked, “Is Ford building electric vehicles because it wants to or it’s being forced to? Do you think EVs are better than their internal combustion predecessors for some vehicles or some customers?” Farley responded, “They are, but not for everyone. If you’re, if you’re pulling 5th wheel in Wyoming, you probably don’t want to own an electric vehicle. But if you have three cars in your household and one’s for, you know, short distances running around town or, you know, 100, 200-mile range, it’s a better car. So, it’s totally dependent on the customer.”
Farley is correct. EVs are great for short distances where you can charge at home, but they don’t work if you need to tow something for any real distance. They also aren’t great for road trips. In his EV F-150 Farley had to make multiple stops to charge when he would have made the trip without stopping for gas or, at worst, stopping once for gas.
Many people claim the shift to EVs is inevitable, but in reality critics have raised serious concerns about a wide range of issues related to EVs including driving range, vehicle reliability, price, the buildout of charging infrastructure, charging time, the cost and lifespan of batteries and their environmental impact, the actual impact EVs will have on reducing carbon emissions, problems with battery recycling and end-of-life management, as well as national security and human rights issues related to the EV supply chain.
If American families were free to make these decisions for themselves, none of these challenges would really matter. People would purchase vehicles that make sense for their individual and family’s situation. But governments are working to reduce automobility and limit people’s transportation choices. California, and other states, are trying to ban the purchase are new vehicles with internal combustion engines by 2035.
Without massive improvements to EV charging in terms of speed and capacity of batteries, many people will be forced to drive cars that are inferior for their situation compared to cars with internal combustion engines. Ford’s CEO understands this and should stand up for his consumers and push back on the government’s attempts to limit the automobility of Americans. But, the federal government has given Ford and other manufacturers billions of taxpayer dollars to buy them off.