Chevron and its Push Against Electric Cars

Chevron and its Push Against Electric Cars
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Chevron is using retirees to scare people away from electric vehicles. That's according to a story in The Arizona Republic. You should read the story.

But just to catch you up for this blog post, it goes like this:

  • One California lobbyist for Chevron
  • A bunch of retired oil industry execs who live in Arizona
  • Writing form letters to “to Arizona Corporation Commissioners not to require electric companies here to build electric-car charging stations.”

Here are a few thoughts about Chevron's incompetent effort to stop a major shift in transportation.

They're Using Retirees. Of Course.

People who like technology often use the initialsm FUD when they talk about people who fear change. That stands for Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt. Who better to FUD things up than oil industry retirees?

chevron electric cars
There are certain people who can’t handle how the world is changing.

Look, I don't want to be ageist about this. But why should retirees have the biggest voice in this conversation? This is the same demographic that kept saddling Maricopa County with Joe Arpaio as sherrif, which pretty much says it all.

An Attack on EV “Subsidies”

Of course the retirees attacked the $7,500 tax credit for electric vehicles. The reporter (good on him, by the way) directly asked one of the retirees about oil industry subsidies. The person denied knowledge of what kind of money his long-time employer received from the federal government. Either the person didn’t actually work for Chevron, or he knew about government subsidies for the industry. That means he was lying.

Let's answer the question ourselves, then. According to The Guardian, oil companies receive about $20 billion from the US government in subsidies. That's in just one year. One year.

The electric vehicle tax credit is nothing next to that. I'm not the guy to crunch these numbers, but what would gas cost if they had the same level of subsidies as electric vehicles? The answer is “a lot more. A lot.”

Chevron Retirees Say Electric Vehicles are Too Expensive

This connects back to the subsidy point. But it's clear, also, that none of these people involved with the Chevron electric cars effort have any clue. Used electric vehicles are widely available.

I've seen some as low as $12,000. It’s possible to get an extremely capable electric car for less than $20,000. And it’s funny how people will spend $50,000 on a pickup and be perfectly fine with it. But a brand-new $30,000 EV like the 2019 LEAF? Too expensive.

2018 Nissan LEAF

Keep in mind that electric vehicles are a technology in their infancy. What do you think the average horse owner said when rich people in the late 1800s/early 1900s started rattling around in cars? “Too expensive … playthings for the rich,” right?

That sounds familiar. And it won't age well in regard to electric vehicle adoption.. Battery technology, the most-expensive part of an electric car, is plummeting in price. Parity with gas engines is coming. And quickly.

The Chevron Electric Cars Gambit is Stupid, Anyway

People who don't actually drive electric vehicles think charging stations are the be-all end-all for EV drivers. Wrong.

All we really need is a 120-volt outlet at home and at work. That's because EVs come with charging devices of their own. The device is called an EVSE (not a charger, which is actually built into the car itself). An EVSE is designed to plug into a 240-volt outlet ton provide what is called Level 2 charging, which usually gets you 10-18 miles of charge per hour.

chevron electric cars
A close-up look at an EVSE plug. With the right adaptor, this can charge an electric car from a 110-volt outlet.

But EV drivers can use an adaptor to plug their EVSE right into 120-volt outlets and get 3-6 miles of charge per hour. That's more than enough for the typical commute. And next time you're in a parking garage, take a look around. You'll notice at 120-volt outlets are more common than you've ever realized.

That said, it's nice to have a 240-volt outlet at home on its own dedicated circuit. But it's a nice to have, not a necessity.

And this all means one thing: The oil industry can't even organize its opposition to do anything that's remotely relevant.

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