Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg touted the benefits of electric vehicles as a solution to higher gasoline prices during a July 19 House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing.
In an exchange with Rep. Carlos Giménez (R-Fla.), Buttigieg reiterated his position that the elevated cost of gasoline will create a greater benefit for consumers who are able to purchase electric cars (EV).
“The more pain we are all experiencing from the high price of gas, the more benefit there is for those who can access electric vehicles,” he said.
When asked to clarify that remark, Buttigieg purported that “we could have no pain at all by making EVs cheaper for everybody.”
The former presidential candidate is championing a White House proposal that the U.S. government subsidize the purchase price of electric vehicles to make them cheaper for consumers.
Under the president’s Build Back Better plan, EV buyers would receive a $7,500 tax credit to buy a plug-in electric vehicle and up to $12,500 for union-made U.S. electric automobiles.
Electric car makers have been advocating for these types of incentives, warning the industry could fail to reach the administration’s goal to push auto sales to 50 percent electric by 2030. But Republicans assert that this proposal mainly benefits only the wealthy, citing Grist data indicating that 78 percent of EV tax credits were claimed by individuals earning more than $100,000 per year.
In recent months, Buttigieg has been making the case that drivers can avoid the high cost of gas by switching to electric automobiles, claiming that they would “never have to worry about gas prices again.”
Buttigieg, during an interview with BigBoyTV, purported that the federal government is trying to reduce the cost of EVs so that more Americans can buy them and refrain from paying for gas.
“We’re for cutting the cost of electric vehicles, because when you have an electric vehicle, then you’re also going to be able to save on gas—but you’ve got to be able to afford it in the first place,” he stated.
He made similar comments in a November 2021 interview with MSNBC.
“The people who stand to benefit most from owning an EV are often rural residents, who have the longest distances to drive, [and] they often burn the most gas,” the administration official noted.
In a March speech promoting President Joe Biden’s $5 billion initiative to enhance the nation’s electric charging network, Buttigieg emphasized the cost savings for the public.
“So the people from rural, to suburban, to urban communities can all benefit from the gas savings of driving an EV,” the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, said.
Biden has also echoed his transportation secretary’s sentiments.
During a press conference alongside Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in May, Biden told reporters that pain at the pump was part of “an incredible transition” for the U.S. economy.
“[When] it comes to the gas prices, we’re going through an incredible transition that is taking place that, God willing, when it’s over, we’ll be stronger and the world will be stronger and less reliant on fossil fuels when this is over,” he said.
“That’s the transportation equivalent of saying, ‘Let them eat cake,'” says Derrick Morgan, the executive vice president of The Heritage Foundation.
The average sale price for an EV is approximately $60,000, according to March data from Edmunds, an online automotive information company. That’s compared to the roughly $45,000 average for all new vehicles.
In addition, studies are revealing the challenges facing the current generation of EVs.
A November 2021 study by predictive analytics firm We Predict found that while maintenance costs in the first year of ownership were $7, compared with $30 for gas-powered cars, electric cars were 1.6 to 2.3 times more expensive to service than gas-powered vehicles.
Further, cold weather can limit much of an electric car’s range, according to AAA. The group discovered that colder temperatures can cut into a battery’s range by more than 40 percent.
An EV’s range also can be slashed by about 20 percent if the driver turns on the air conditioner during high temperatures.
“The fact is that electric vehicles aren’t the best choice for everyone, even with thousands of dollars in tax subsidies for EVs and hidden regulatory subsidies making regular cars cost more,” Morgan said.
“There is nothing wrong with choosing an EV, and if government policy let all cars compete on an equal playing field, some will do so. But why should taxpayers fund the lifestyle choices of mostly rich buyers with a $7,500 tax credit for a new car that most Americans can’t afford?”
The national average for a gallon of regular-grade gasoline is $4.467, up 41 percent from a year ago, AAA data show.