I am a renter, like 34% of Americans, 44% of Californians and 63% of residents in Los Angeles. Charging for an hour a week at a public charger is going to be inconvenient. I expect as more locals buy EVs, there will be long waits for chargers, basically ruining one day a week.

Doing the math, paying for a charge up in public will actually cost me more money than refilling my 2004 Prius. So I am not getting the savings always extolled about with regards to EVs.

Supposedly there will be less to break inside and require maintenance, but when I have spoken to EV owners they have told me how expensive damages cost to repair, I guess because they are not yet ubiquitous enough.

I have been wanting an EV for several years, but I don’t make a lot of money. And I don’t have a 220V outlet where I rent where I could plug one in. Newer apartment buildings have parking spots for EV charging. My unit is $2600 a month. Ones with chargers tend to cost more like $4K here. More costs.

Here’s my solution: mandate landlords install 220V outlets in renter parking spots by 2030.

Start with buildings with over 100 units. Give them till 2026.

Then those with over 50 have till 2027.

Those over 25 till 2028

Those over 10 till 2029

And all by 2030.

The IRA gives tax rebates for some of this. States should add more to reduce pushback from landlords.

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Obviously you are from California where regulations are only judged on benefits, and never take costs into account.

Requiring 220V/40A outlets in all rental parking spots is a huge cost, several thousand dollars per spot, and also would require new transformers or substations given the large increase in power needed. Since less than a few percent of cars are electric, most of these outlets would be idle until the percentage of cars changed (will take a long time since cars last over 10 years easily now when only 8% of new ones are EVs.

Of course, the costs will be borne by the landlords, you may say. But they will then raise rents, which is probably one of the reasons why the ones with outlets now have higher rents. So, higher rents for all, to help the 1% of renters with EVs and with little environmental benefit since passenger vehicles account for only 5% of US CO2 emissions now anyway.

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Yes, I am from California, where almost half the population rents their homes. And where EVs made up 25% of new vehicle purchases last year. (More in cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco, where the most renters live).


You missed the last sentence in my comment, which is that, in addition to existing IRA rebates, states should add more, so landlords don’t bear excessive costs. This will reduce political backlash and costs passed on to renters.

New transformers and substations will be necessary anyways. Methane and gasoline are toxic. States, like California, should be offering vocational classes for teens to become electricians when they graduate. We need hundreds of thousands of them, and those jobs pay very well.


People will support the transition to renewable energy and EVs when they see it personally improving their lives. I am concerned that pushing people to use public chargers will cause long lines and widespread outrage soon.

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I charge my car at home on a regular 110V outlet, with a standard plug that came in the trunk of my car, and I highly recommend it.

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Cool. Lots of renter parking spots don’t have outlets. Doesn’t cost much more to run a conduit for 220V than for 110V.

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Yeah, 220 is definitely superior if you have a choice. But I own my home and gave never bothered, I just use the 110.

As you say, many apartments don't have any usable plug at all, not even 110, maybe not even off street parking. It's a real limit.

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You are correct that the conduit for 220V requires smaller gauge wires (thus cheaper) than that for 110V at the same power level, but the main cost is in the added power needed from the utility. Fast charging uses 220V/40A or 8.8KW, a typical apartment is 220V/100A or 22KW, so an outlet per apartment raises the power needed from the utility by 40%, which they probably cannot easily accommodate.

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Utilities have zero choice. There is no way we are not electrifying everything.


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Yes people want a choice. Yet we are being limited by tax-funded subsidies and incentives. I fully expect to own an electric car at some point -- although I put so few miles on my car so buying a new one is unlikely. My problem with the push to go electric is exactly that is IS being pushed. EVs would be adopted gradually anyway without taxation, subsidies, and compulsion. Pushing them is also a bad idea because it will require more electricity and the USA (like some other countries, especially in Europe) is pushing aside reliable energy sources in favor of highly dilute, intermittent, and unreliable sources. The grid also needs massive upgrades. If we had not all but destroyed nuclear, we would be in a much better position to more quickly adopt EVs --- and electric cookers, and heat pumps... and AI.

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Great answer!!!

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Max, the item I'm looking for is does the government "walk the talk". when I see State Police, DOT road workers etc using electric vehicles then it'll be clear a) EVs are cost effective and b) the infrastructure is in place.

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I understand why you didn't mention the 300 kilo gorilla in the living room, but it needs to be mentioned and no one else has mentioned this in comments, so I guess I'll have to do it.

Electric cars are the wrong answer to the wrong question. We need a massive investment in public transit. We need more dense cities with a better mix of commercial, residential, and, commercial properties---so people can walk, bike, and, take transit to shop and get to work. The only value I can see from electric cars is that they have built up the technology that is making electric bicycles affordable to the masses.

Reliance on personally-owned automobiles is an absolute blight on human society. It has led to grotesquely inefficient suburban sprawl.

I don't expect you to never talk about EVs---simply because a huge swathe of the population has been brainwashed into believing that they are in some sense 'a good thing' for them. But you should add a boiler-plate disclaimer to the effect of "the personal automobile is a blight on society and in a well-run society we would be moving heaven and earth to build better transit in more dense cities" before you write any article about EVs. Otherwise, you are just perpetuating more of the stupid nonsense that is screwing up the planet.

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I agree that a lack of efficient public transportation is a major problem. Even if, in a lot of places, it's not a practical ubiquitous solution, it could reduce the amount of personal vehicle miles needed, and then shorter range (and more affordable) EVs or plug-in hybrids that would mostly only ever use the battery, or other options, could make a lot of sense.

Right now, where I live in the USA, the busses are are an unreliable and unacceptable time drain, and we have no subway.

I am in one of two cities that see an exchange in commuting workers due to some differing specializations/needs for types of specialized labor between those two cities (not everyone works in retail, or other work sectors ubiquitous to every city, though admittedly the majority of jobs between cities are the same or similar, at least on paper). Anyhow, right now, one can drive between the two cities, one way, in about 70 minutes. Right now, one can drive to a train station parking lot in about 15 minutes, ride the train for about 95 minutes (with stops) or about 75 minutes (the express option), and then when you get to the other city, X? addtional time depending on options. For my wife, it's only a 15 minute walk from the train station to her work (there is not a public transit option from the train station to her work). She is not able to take an express train to her work, but she in able to take one back. The train environment is not amenable to working on the train, but she does manage to do some work, but the work done is nowhere near the total travel time due to implicit inefficiencies caused by the commute. It is also a very unpleasant - smelly and noisy environment - on the train, compare to driving the whole way. She still does it b/c it saves on gas costs and vehicle wear and tear/maintenance and repair costs to have a lot less miles on it than if she were to drive the whole way. They could have business class train cars with small, fold-out desks, plugs, and relaible wifi the whole route. They could also go from wheels on tracks to mag-lev or another high-speed options to bring the commute time down substantially - which would also reduce the time between available departure times and increase the number of round trips per day. As it is, public support for the train that exists is split; so, while these upgrades to the public train would be excellent and would definitely attract more passengers, they aren't likely to happen anytime soon.

As for suburban sprawl, there are ways to make that work, but it does require a much bigger investment in types of efficient public transportation, and for new construction, smarter design around that, and it's generally not happening where I live. That said, a lot of people don't want to (or should have to) live verically.

As for where the power from an EV comes from, I already have rooftop solar generating a surplus (over our current consumption) that would roughly offset the electrical power needed for one EV (on an annual basis), and we (my wife and I) want an EV, but we definitely can't afford one at this time.

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That's not an argument against EVs, it's an argument against cars. Even if you go as far as possible down the road of moving to transit, there will still be some cars left (probably quite a lot if we're being realistic) and the decision still has to be made how to power them. Also if transit includes buses you need to decide how to power those. So you've given an answer to a different question, but it doesn't make sense to say that one is the 'right' question and one is the 'wrong' question.

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This is trivially true, but ignores the big point that there is an enormous amount of marketing and govt subsidies aimed at building electric cars, compared to much less aimed at building public transit and transit-centric cities.

I get it, most people simply cannot cannot conceive of a world that isn't build around the personal automobile. All I'm saying is that someone serious about sustainability needs to at least give a pro-forma acknowledgement to this issue whenever they discuss EVs--just like people used to recite the Lord's Prayer and now a land acknowledgement (do people do this at public meetings outside of Canada?) before getting down to business.

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Have to say I disagree. I think the question of the number of cars on the roads and the types of fuels they use are different and can be considered separately. And I don't see any more need for boilerplate acknowledgements at the start of this article or others like it than for prafacing them with the text of the lord's prayer (I think that might be a Canada specific thing btw).

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Apr 19·edited Apr 19

Cars and car culture evoke a lot of emotion in the U.S, especially for us baby boomers who grew up during the muscle car craze of the 60's. They are intertwined with our feeling of freedom and independence. However you feel about them, I hope you enjoy my "Ode to ICE."

“Ode to ICE” – A Parody of “To all the girls I’ve loved before”

To all the cars I’ve loved before, They burned gas and so much more,

I’m kind of sad they’ll soon be gone, I dedicate this song, To all the cars I’ve loved before.

I still loved them when they would not start, I was always looking for a certain part,

I cannot work on my EV, No points or plugs to foul you see, To all the cars I’ve loved before.

To all the cars that caused me strife, You were such a big part of my life,

Why am I sad you’ll soon be gone, I dedicate this song, To all cars I’ve loved before.

To all cars that carried me, I had to drive them, don’t you see,

No computer at the heart, I used to be an important part, Of all the cars I’ve loved before.

To all the cars I’ve loved before, They burned gas and so much more,

I’m kind of sad they’ll soon be gone, I dedicate this song, To all the cars I’ve loved before.

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Technology is not the enemy, CO2 is the enemy. I continue to advocate that people should buy the car with the lowest lifecycle emissions that meets their needs and budget. One of my favorite sites that allows people to make that assessment is MIT's, https://www.carboncounter.com/#!/explore . I also continue to believe that incentives or emission targets/regulation should be based on lifecycle emissions not mandating percentage of one technology over another.

I live in NM and have owned a Toyota RAV4 Prime, a plug-in hybrid, for over 2 years and I love it. My personal best is getting 2200 miles on a single tank of gas, i.e., 11 gallons. I bought it when it was still eligible for the $7500 tax credit.

Transitions take time. 20 years ago the Prius was the car that evoked a lot of emotion on both sides of the issue. Today, hybrids are common and have become accepted and seem to be the hot ticket in the U.S., https://www.reuters.com/business/autos-transportation/toyota-outshine-rivals-more-consumers-opt-hybrids-amid-ev-slowdown-2024-02-02/ .

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Automobiles make up less than 10% of all emissions that are “killing” our planet. Transportation of goods and manufacturing create much much more — fingers in ears, “la la la la la, I can’t hear you.”

To the autos…

Road wear, tire wear, hilly/mountainous terrain, towing capabilities, lack of rural charging stations, ambient temperatures below freezing (32*F) — there is not an honest assessment of EVs out there. Everyone’s got an agenda, attempting to benefit from their own or paid-for “research.”

I’m all for change when the country has the infrastructure to support it, when car manufacturers/dealers aren’t fleecing nearly every customer they can, when citizens can afford it and when the change is not off the backs of the mid and lower class citizens.

Price will always be an issue if input costs continue to rise and as companies focus on shareholders over customers. This isn’t an automotive contagion, it’s universal. Incomes may have increased and inflation (a sum of it’s metrics year over year) may have slowed but the greed is still rampant.

EVs may be only a few years away from price parity with ICE vehicles bit that would be because American’s are forced to buy vehicles with more “safety for the sake of spying”, “convenience” and “luxury” items in the NOW lowest trim vehicles. Let’s not forget manufacturers are completely nixing base models from their lineups.

Forcing change for the sake of change and lying about it’s overall impacts to humanity while protecting industries that pollute more than fleets of gas-burning cars is disingenuous, dangerous and deceitful.

“You will be poor and own nothing” seems pretty close when you throw the taxes in on top.

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So, if we have to rely on high import tariffs to remain competitive with the Chinese and large subsidies (which we don’t give for gas powered cars), then how can you suggest with confidence that EV’s will reach price parody with gas powered cars? If we’re being honest about the Cost of the vehicle, we should be talking about the actual cost of building the car, not the tax payer subsidized cost. Also, you talk about dependence on foreign oil, but we are no longer dependent on foreign oil or Nat gas. In fact, we (US) are the largest producer of both oil and Nat gas. We could make an actual difference to the environment if we converted our vehicle fleet to hybrids burning natural gas instead of gasoline.

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Just returned from a trip to England, and saw a lot of hybrids and fully electric. I also saw the gas price of 1.50 GBP per liter, which is roughly $6.75 per gallon, double the US (New England) average price, hence double the "stick" incentive. Also, I'm a plug-in owner (Toyota RAV4 Prime) for 2.5 years now and I love it, it's much more satisfying in every way to drive. I get ~40 electric miles in winter and ~60 in summer, and charging at home is half the price of gas. I recognize the difficultly for many (esp. renters) in charging at home. But I also think that the US tax incentive system is so poorly designed that it's obvious to anyone making a regular paycheck that it's another tax giveaway to the well-off. You have to OWE $7500 in taxes at year-end in order to get a credit of $7500. For me, a retiree, that meant withdrawing $40,000 from my IRA and dump it in checking/savings just to owe $7500. Just back-of-cocktail napkin math: for a married couple to owe $7500 in fed income tax, your income has to be $75k beyond the standard deduction of $30k, or $105,000. No wonder we're worried about opening the domestic market to China (10k to 15k small electrics)! It's like the second coming of VW bugs and Toyota Coronas! (We're not worried about these small foreign imports, GM said at the time; we know what the American buyer really wants).

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Interesting survey data on American attitudes for sure! But it doesn't seem like it's such a hard market to crack: EV sales are highest in jurisdictions that give the most "carrots" - the U.S. as a whole just isn't giving out a whole lot of carrots. Future Positive Investor tackles some of the main assertions about EV adoption challenges here: https://futurepositiveinvestor.substack.com/p/evs-a-statement-or-solution

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The single largest problem of EV initial is that it is mandatory. The lack of economic savvy in Washington DC is the worst part.

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Great article Hannah! Thank you for sharing the public perception and dispelling myths. EVs certainly will have adoption challenges, but most new technologies do. I've been driving an EV for years and I'm looking forward to the improved air quality from replacing diesel engines with EVs. No more "rolling coal" for personal entertainment that harms us all.

Many people point to lack of charging infrastructure as a problem for EVs. But as EVs become standard, the economic incentive to build chargers will make them ubiquitous. And these chargers can be located in remote areas, charged by solar panels, eliminating the need to have liquid hydrocarbons delivered to gas stations by trucks. That alone saves primary energy resources.

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So? Someone out in rural Kansas is going to purchase early lease, a piece of land, install a bunch of solar panels, build a charging station, and hope people show up to recharge their cars, trucks, farm equipment?

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Clearly not the point. Charging infrastructure should be grid-tied for optimal load balancing of supply, storage, and demand – although the possibility for off-grid charging exists if it is needed in rare circumstances.

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Yes, many don’t have dedicated parking spots or off-street parking. Those people will need to use public chargers for the foreseeable future.

The more people we can get charging at home, like you and renters who do have dedicated parking spots, the shorter the lines at public chargers will be. I’m worried about the frustration and backlash EVs are going to receive when people are wasting hours per week to charge up. I don’t want a repeat of the 70s gas lines, after which Americans threw out Democrats.

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« The amount of materials we’ll need to mine will probably go down in a low-carbon transition, even when we account for ore concentration and waste rock »

That assumption feels very short sighted. This is debatable especially with renewables. Not to say we shouldn’t strive for low carbon, but we have to acknowledge that EV’s, especially with USA’s bigger car sickness, won’t replace ICE 1:1. The amount of materials needed with 10 billion humans living with renewables if we keep the same energy consumption is undoubtedly bigger than what we mine today (you may be familiar with Kaya’s equation ?). Yes, tools and processes might get a bit better, but I do not believe in any groundbreaking progress on the mining side and also renewables efficiency (batteries may have a wider technological progression capacity).

EVs need to be small and task oriented, as you said, most people travel less than 30 miles a day, let’s produce at least an affordable low range EV small car for commuters, not some monstrous F150 electric. Then we’ll be a bit more environmentally friendly.

Then the real debate the US is not having becomes(The EU either although it might have crossed our minds) is how do we change our way of doing city planning, help people live closer to their jobs and invest massively in public transportation ? So they don’t need cars so much.

Transportation is just one of the many problems we have to solve to alleviate the climate crisis. We don’t need to do the same without fossil fuels, we need to fundamentally change our ways. It’s obvious any of the EVs produced in the US and most EVs produced in the EU don’t fit the agenda of selling less and smaller cars. 🙃

Using renewables to commit murder is still committing murder and that’s what we are selling to the people, the same with a different flavor.

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I just wrote about the environmental consequences of EV batteries. It seems that many people, specifically the governments, refuse to acknowledge the depth of environmental destruction and human pain caused by mining for materials needed for EV batteries. Until new sources are tested and identified, I don’t think we can argue EVs are good for the environment.

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Have to bear in mind that the question isn't just whether EVs are 'good' for the environment, but whether they are better than the alternative. We have to weigh against the environmental destruction and human pain of mining for and burning oil.

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Great blog Hannah. I'm planning a blog on the current adoption rates myself... my current view is that we're seeing a temporary cyclical downturn in an exponential EV growth curve. It's interesting what the current key barriers to adoption are. It gives me hope because historically, these pale in comparison to the barriers that other technologies (inc. the Model T Ford) surmounted in rapid fashion.

I'm not sure whether incumbent buggy whip manufacturers were in engaged in an intense lobbying effort to deny the existence of horse dung though 😂

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Thanks for this breakdown of data! Anecdotally, I can say that I love driving an EV so much and the reason is something I didn't anticipate when buying it - no gears. Acceleration is smooth and powerful. Just a joy to drive!

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