Biden’s Deal For EV Push Hits Snag

By Victor Winston, updated on December 2, 2023

The push for electric vehicles (EVs) in the United States has encountered significant resistance from consumers and auto dealers, challenging the Biden administration's ambitious goals for an EV-driven future.

An auto dealer group's recent outcry has cast a shadow on the viability of electric vehicles in the current market, citing affordability, infrastructure, and practicality concerns.

Paul LaRochelle, a Vice President at Sheehy Auto Stores, which operates in Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia, voiced the reluctance of customers toward EVs. LaRochelle's observations reveal a gap between governmental ambitions and consumer readiness.

Customer Reluctance Over Electric Vehicles

Sheehy Auto Stores, a prominent auto dealer group, has noticed a stark lack of interest in electric vehicles among their clientele. This lack of enthusiasm is attributed to various factors, including high costs and practicality concerns.

A revealing incident involved a customer who openly expressed skepticism upon learning that a car was electric, highlighting the prevailing concerns about the reliability and range of EVs.

Despite government subsidies and initiatives to promote EV adoption, the response from the consumer base remains tepid. This reaction poses a significant challenge to the Biden administration's push for a transition to electric vehicles.

Government Regulations and Industry Response

Thirteen states, along with Washington D.C., have implemented bans or restrictions on the sale of new internal combustion engine vehicles, aiming for a future dominated by electric vehicles. These measures reflect a growing environmental consciousness and a commitment to reducing carbon emissions.

However, Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin is attempting to reverse the state's adherence to California's EV standards, a move indicative of the growing debate over the practicality of such regulations.

Auto dealers are now calling on the Biden administration to reconsider the pace of the transition to electric vehicles, arguing for a more gradual approach that takes into account consumer preferences and market readiness.

Challenges in EV Adoption

One of the major hurdles in the widespread adoption of electric vehicles is their affordability. With prices ranging between $60,000 and $80,000, EVs remain out of reach for a significant portion of potential buyers, such as teachers.

Moreover, the issue of insufficient range and the lack of adequate charging infrastructure has led some buyers to return their EVs, further highlighting the practical challenges in adopting this technology.

Concerns have also been raised about the sourcing of materials for EV batteries. Laura Ingraham, during her show, questioned the reliance on China for these materials, suggesting a shift towards North American sources could be more beneficial.

Potential Domestic Sources for EV Materials

Representative John James highlighted Michigan's deposits of minerals essential for EV batteries, pointing to domestic resources that could potentially reduce dependence on foreign materials.

Similarly, former Representative Lou Barletta noted that Pennsylvania's coal country might be a viable source of rare earth minerals needed in electric vehicles, suggesting a potential avenue for domestic sourcing.

These suggestions indicate a growing interest in exploring local resources to support the EV industry, aligning with broader goals of energy independence and sustainability.

Auto Dealers Seek a Slower Transition

In light of these challenges, auto dealers are urging the Biden administration to slow down the transition to electric vehicles. Their plea is rooted in the current market realities and consumer preferences.

LaRochelle’s comments encapsulate the sentiment of the auto dealer community. He stresses the need for a more measured approach to the EV transition, one that accounts for affordability and practicality.

"Slow this mandate down, give the American public more time: Let us make cars, too, that become, over time, a little bit more affordable. That's why we titled [our letter] The Voice of the Customer, because, again, not everybody can afford this. It's not a practical means of transportation; affordable transportation for everybody."

The push for EVs is part of a broader environmental strategy by the Biden administration, which aims for 50% of new car sales to be electric by 2030. This goal aligns with the EPA's tailpipe emission rules intended to boost EV sales.

However, the recent outcry from auto dealers and consumer reluctance pose significant challenges to these ambitious targets. The tension between government policy and market readiness is increasingly evident.

Conclusion: The Road Ahead for EVs

The transition to electric vehicles in the United States is at a critical juncture. While government policies are pushing toward a greener future, consumer reluctance and market realities present formidable obstacles. The debate over EVs is not just about technology but also about affordability, infrastructure, and practicality.

  • Auto dealers report customer disinterest in EVs due to high costs and practical concerns.
  • Lack of charging infrastructure and range anxiety contribute to consumer hesitancy.
  • Government regulations face pushback from states and the auto industry.
  • Discussion over domestic sourcing of EV battery materials is gaining traction.
  • Auto dealers urge the Biden administration to reconsider the pace of the EV transition.

About Victor Winston

Victor is a freelance writer and researcher who focuses on national politics, geopolitics, and economics.

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