The Biden administration is pushing for widespread electrification in less than 20 years through government subsidies and coercive regulations as part of its aggressive climate agenda. The truth is that President Joe Biden’s goals are an illusion at the expense of the American people.

While EV proponents try to claim that EVs will soon be cheaper than gasoline vehicles, our new research demonstrates that EVs benefitted from hidden subsidies that total nearly $50,000 per EV.

Who is footing that bill? Gasoline vehicle owners, taxpayers, and utility ratepayers are.

Electric vehicles primarily benefit from regulatory credits and generous fuel economy standards, which average $27,881 per vehicle. EVs have been given an unlawful 6.67 multiplier to their rated fuel economy, so that an EV with a rated fuel economy of 100 miles per gallon is credited as if it is getting 667 miles per gallon. What’s more, the EPA’s proposed fuel economy standards are designed to require that 67% of new passenger cars sold be all-electric by 2032, demonstrating a clear government preference toward EVs without proper consideration of costs and benefits.

For gasoline vehicles, the price you see at the gas pump covers the cost of extracting, refining, and transporting the gasoline, but the same cannot be said for the cost of charging an EV. EVs require new charging infrastructure, and their large power draw increases the strain on electricity infrastructure. As our research highlights, a typical EV charging overnight at home consumes as much power as several homes, and an EV charging at a fast-charging station in 30 minutes consumes as much power as a small to medium-sized grocery store. A few extra EVs in the neighborhoods are manageable, but widespread EV adoption will require significant and expensive grid upgrades.

Adding insult to injury, EV owners alone aren’t shouldering these increased electricity costs, which average $11,833 per vehicle over 10 years. Until a utility starts charging EV owners for the extra infrastructure costs to serve them, those costs are shared among all the utility’s customers. Residential electricity costs across the U.S. have risen 20% over the last three years, and a rapid forced adoption of EVs will only make this problem worse.

Direct federal and state subsidies provide EVs with another $8,984 per vehicle over 10 years, including the widely publicized $7,500 federal tax credit in the so-called Inflation Reduction Act and smaller state subsidies for EVs. All these subsidies, of course, are borne by the American taxpayer.

President Biden’s expensive green pipe dream is not without irony.

While Biden administration claims that these draconian EV mandates are necessary to combat climate change, the widespread adoption of EVs in the developed world would have negligible effects on global emissions and climate. For starters, if EVs are able to displace all the carbon emissions from U.S. passenger cars, that would only cut out 20% of U.S. carbon emissions. Our calculations show that even if the U.S. eliminated all of its carbon emissions by 2050, the effect on global temperatures in 2100 would only be 0.08 degrees Celsius.

But EVs will not even get us that far because they don’t cut carbon emissions much—if at all—compared  to gasoline vehicles. As pointed out by Mark Mills in a recent op-ed in Real Clear Energy, it is nearly impossible to measure an individual EV’s emissions. While driving an EV itself does not directly produce emissions, the emissions to generate the electricity used to charge EVs vary widely depending on location.

EV batteries also require fossil fuels to produce, and many components of EV batteries are made in emissions-heavy China. The emissions resulting from mining and processing the materials used in the battery are largely unreported, and the emissions during EV production could potentially be enough to wipe out the emissions saved by not combusting gasoline.

A recent study by Volvo attempts to quantify some of these factors, and the result is not rosy for EVs. The lifetime emissions of the electric version of the Volvo SUV at the center of the study are only a third less than the emissions of the gasoline version, and that is when it is charged on the carbon-light European grid. Different assumptions could lead to an EV emitting more carbon than its gasoline counterpart. The obvious conclusion is that without rapid reductions in carbon emissions from the electric grid, an equally Herculean task to EV mass adoption, EVs will continue to produce significant carbon emissions.

Emissions from gasoline vehicles are projected to decline 20% over the next decade, and hybrids, which nearly double the fuel efficiency of a gasoline vehicle with a battery that is 50-100 times smaller than an EV battery, would actually produce the least amount of lifetime emissions. But the net-zero advocates are needlessly demanding all EVs—or nothing.

EVs would also have little impact on levels of actual pollution in U.S. cities, like soot and smog, because the U.S. is already a world leader in clean air. When the number of passenger cars on the road fell by half during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, there was no measurable impact on air quality in the U.S. Our air pollution levels are so close their natural state that weather has a far greater impact on pollution levels in most U.S. cities than the emissions from our vehicles.

The reality is, EVs are not going away any time soon, but neither are cars in general. Americans are still driving at nearly the same rate they were before the COVID-19 pandemic—more than 3.2 trillion miles total annually. Even the addition of a few hundred million new EVs over the next decade, up from 20 million today, will only account for approximately 10-20% of all passenger vehicles globally.[GU1] [GU2] [3]  Currently, 90% of EVs in the U.S. are purchased as a second or third car, usually in addition to a gasoline vehicle. If the U.S. were to adopt the Biden administration’s preferred number EVs, consumers would have to purchase EVs at a scale and velocity 10 times greater and faster than any new model car in history.

Even this isn’t enough to achieve the left’s dystopian net-zero goals. The International Energy Agency forecasts [GU4] the number of global households without a car needs to rise from 45% today to 70% to achieve net-zero by 2050. That’s right—70% of people around the world must not have a car to meet the global elite’s climate goals. Most of the 45% of households who do not own cars are in developing world and crave the kind of personal mobility we enjoy in the U.S. and in Europe, but net-zero will require them to remain confined forever or to rely solely on government-owned transit. Even the developed world will have to cut its driving dramatically. In California, regulators predicted [GU5] that the state’s emissions goals will require Californians to both buy EVs and reduce miles driven by 25%.

Coercing American citizens into buying EVs is simply untenable and is not truly environmentally friendly. As our research shows, EV subsidies and mandates are already costing Americans $22 billion annually, and that amount is set to rise dramatically, with particularly adverse impacts on lower-income Americans. The Biden administration would be wise to end its special treatment of EVs, prioritize the American consumer, and stop driving the U.S. auto industry off a cliff.

This commentary was originally published in RealClearEnergy.

Share this story