Unplugged from reality

President Obama wants to force car manufacturers to raise average fuel efficiency to a ridiculous 56.2 miles per gallon by 2025. If this number becomes the law of the land, the only way car manufacturers will be able to comply is by selling millions of plug-in hybrids.

Like all government central planning, this forced transformation of our cars is a sweet dream so long as it is only a theory. And like all central planning, once it becomes reality it will introduce us to its list of unintended consequences.

At the top of that list are two major problems. The first has to do with car prices. Plug-in technology is expensive, so expensive in fact that the federal government wants $40,000 for the Chevrolet Volt it produces. It gives its own car (and other qualifying plug-ins) a market-distorting $7,500 subsidy, but $32,500 is still a steep price for a car that is less useful than a $15,000 Hyundai Accent.

When the government forces us all into plug-ins, many of us will no longer be able to afford a car.

Proponents of the draconian fuel efficiency standards could argue that the price of plug-in technology will fall with larger production volumes. This is correct in theory, but it will literally take decades before the price of a Volt falls within the realm of affordability for most Americans.

Another major problem with the suggested fuel efficiency standards is the need to produce enough electricity to recharge all those plug-ins.

There seems to be a consensus that it will cost about $1 per day to recharge a plug-in hybrid. Based on average national electricity prices, $1 buys approximately 10 kilowatt hours (kWh) worth of electricity. In other words: It takes 10 kWh to recharge a plug-in hybrid overnight.

Suppose that Obama’s plug-in dream came true tomorrow. All of a sudden we all drive plug-ins, which means 200 million of them on the streets of America. Every night 200 million power cords consume 10 kWh each. This adds up to a total of 2 terra-watt hours (TWh) worth of electricity per day.

Based on March 2011 data from the Energy Information Administration, the total electricity consumption in the United States is approximately 10 TWh per day. A fleet of 200 million eco-friendly, government-endorsed, ocean-lowering, polar-bear-saving, plug-in hybrids would increase that electricity consumption by 20 percent.

To put this in perspective, our nuclear reactors produce almost 2.2 TWh per day. Would Obama and the Democrats accept a 90 percent expansion of America’s nuclear power production to put a plug-in hybrid in every American driveway?

Probably not. So let’s try something they like. The world’s largest solar power plant system, the Solar Energy Generating Systems (SEGS), is located in the Mojave Desert in California. It sits on a nice piece of real estate: 1,600 acres of land. If we use the SEGS solar technology for 200 million plug-in hybrids, we would have to cover every square inch of Massachusetts and every square inch of New Jersey with solar panels. Then we have to hope that it does not rain there, at least not any more than it does in the Mojave Desert.

This is all based on the assumption that we do not lose a single coal-generated kWh. Coal gives us almost half of our electricity.

  • joehopkins

    The first paragraph (and hence the entire premise) is questionable; i.e. “the only way car manufacturers will be able to comply is by selling millions of plug-in hybrids”.

    I’m sure it’s a challenge but new (petroleum) cars can average 60mpg (US gallons) no problem. Assuming the trend continues fuel efficiency will have improved further by 2025.

    While 56mpg is ambitious, it’s certainly not impossible. Whether there’s any use in taking such measures is another point altogether.



  • NikFromNYC

    So stale, this nasty Nation! That thy Wily E. Don O’Coyote kingdom owns mo’ skeptics as minions than “normal” readers ‘ere sends me periodic happy tear, as I figure 2 fly in your sky 2 skywriter write, a call to arms, creating bright white clouds in your otherwise black skies.

    I’m sorry I once insulted James Hoggan, in angered passing, cynically. Envy reared it’s jaded head, one disenamored day. The shock of finding out via his book that this here was a gold plated PR firm rubbed me too raw, unexpectedly, in midlife.


    Now moot is the gun barrel enforced religious symbolic act of mercurially sacrificing Edison bulbs while churningly turning remaining pristine winded hills and mountains and oceans too into power line and access path fouled support networks for monstrous bird-chopping industrial towers, shadow-casting bat lung blasting icons of the Church of Climatology, the swinging knives of The Green Bank Authority.

    The stolen armor of science falls down before it, yet inertia of the fall itself of this giant of hypocrisy now carries a power grab along, re-energizing it in crucial moment, impossibly, birthing already tooth and claw clad green babes. Up until one century ago there lived, in the Zi Duang province of eastern country, a glass-like spider. Having devoured its prey it would drape the skeletons over its web, creating a macabre shrine of remains. Its web was also unique in that it had many layers, like floors of a building. At the top of this palace-like place, assembled with almost apparent care, were tiny shining objects, glass, beads, dew-drops. One could almost call it an altar. When the breeze blew thru this construction, it produced sounds of wailing, crying.

    Tiny wails, tiny cries.

    The baby spiders would get scared and search frantically for their mother. But the Glass Spider would have long gone, having known that the babies would survive somehow on their own.

    Now that the fast track light bulb ban has garnered fleeted attention, it’s up for normal track vote, likely tomorrow, one that needs only majority instead of super majority support, attached to another bill, in the usual way. Here is a site for you that automatically determines who your representative is and allows you send an e-mail to them, specifically about the sacrifice of greatness to the false gods of falsified science:

    It’s not likely to pass easily into Mr. Bill Becomes A Law, but this will make the GINO (“Green In Name Only”) Demagogues now adopt the prematurely birthed Bush Jr. bulb ban, after Climagegate and a dozen IPCCgates have revealed that all was not right in the state of Denmark, centered around Copenhagen, wherein Man deemed fit to control the weather.

    We are Anonymous. We are Legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget.


    Version: 2.6


  • semus

    I can’t stand this President, but I can’t give the RINO’s a pass either for years I gritted my teeth when I’ve heard that they’ve signed another CAFE standard, the GD lying cowards. Now we have treasonous people in our goverment, there goal is to strangle our auto industry along with every other industry in this country, it may be too late to stop them.

  • Surly Curmudgen

    Over the years , the regulations instigated by greenies who did not like diesel engines, have pushed the cost of diesel fuel and engines up. Eliminating those regulations would have manufacturers building with diesel engines and as a result the average MPG increasing. If diesel engines where mandated there would be an immediate jump of 20% in MPG.

  • marissab

    So a gradual progress in improving the fuel economy of cars is guaranteed to result in drastic improvement? A little optimistic…why not natural gas cars? My dad had one almost 20 years ago because he worked for a gas company and there was a natural gas station in the company garage. It’s technology that we know works and it’s affordable

  • Liberty for All

    No enraptured group think, no buy in. What you offer is common sense. This went out of favor years ago. Not sexy enough. Must have Messiah to save us. Nice try though.