Eye On Illinois: EVs don’t need to be for everyone to influence state economy

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Should you buy an electric car?

As posed, it’s a yes-no question. But in reality, the answer depends on multiple factors with different priorities for each individual driver.

Still, the obvious shades of gray haven’t stopped people from blasting Gov. JB Pritzker’s recent remarks when discussing current high gas prices.

The quote drawing ire: “It might be that people will more likely choose when they’re going to buy a new car to go to electric because it’s much, much less expensive over the long haul of ownership.”

Few Illinoisans – heck, few Americans – have even a fraction of Pritzker’s wealth, so it’s easy to paint the billionaire governor as out of touch with regard to the cost of a car. In December, Kelley Blue Book said the average cost of a new car, of any type, is $46,329. (That’s nearly $650 per month on a 72-month loan with zero interest.) But the average transaction price of just electric vehicles is $56,437, about $10,000 more.

Contrasting gas and electric exceeds an extra $140 per month. If you figure gas at $4.50 per gallon, that’s roughly 31 gallons. But gas stations are abundant and charging stations, while increasingly available, aren’t ubiquitous. Upgrading home charging options, in order to cut down the time a car needs to be plugged in, can run about $2,000.

But there are incentives, including offers from utility providers, as well as exemption from emissions testing requirements and dedicated parking spaces. The latter two may mean little to people who live in more sparsely populated areas, but that speaks to the shades of gray reality surrounding electric vehicles.

Those Blue Book figures are informative, but the reality is the market for gas-powered vehicles is significantly deeper than the hybrid or electric-only offerings. Many car buyers simply can’t afford the upfront costs. Others have driving needs that don’t suit electric vehicle ranges. For those fully committed to gas vehicles, consider an increase in EV usage might work out in your favor from a supply-demand standpoint, both in terms of prices at the pump and the auto dealership.

Pritzker knows these factors. As the champion of Illinois’ effort to become a leader in building electric vehicles and components, with a specific focus on rechargeable batteries, the governor has done plenty of industry research. It’s not hard to read into his statement — “it might be” isn’t exactly assertive — an understanding the consumers he’s envisioning are already at a certain starting point.

I’m not telling anyone which car to buy or to avoid criticizing the governor. But Illinois is all-in on EV as a growth industry, and the effect on the state economy is as important a metric as what any individual resident drives.

Scott T. Holland writes about state government issues for Shaw Media. Follow him on Twitter @sth749. He can be reached at sholland@shawmedia.com.

via Shaw Local

March 17, 2022 at 06:59AM

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