Anything that would delay a program to bring 1 million plug-in hybrids to the market gets attention by the corporate media. This MSNBC article does what hundreds preceding it has done: it casts such an effort in a very negative light, relying on every pro-fossil fuel talking point to disparage plug-in vehicle technologies. It’s more than unfortunate that corporate media outlets continue to parrot talking points rather than engage in some real journalism.
Here is the secondary lede, word for word:
Technology still to expensive and automakers haven’t committed to plan
Well, that’s that then. Except it isn’t. I’ll start by pointing out that the corporate media’s overwhelming journalistic integrity over that of say, bloggers, doesn’t quite explain why simple spelling errors aren’t caught. What they meant to say was the technology is still too expensive. Unless ‘still’ and ‘expensive’ became verbs since I went to grammar school.
In any event, the article goes into a tiny bit of detail on how much battery technology would add to the price of a car. What it doesn’t do is report on any battery technology advancements that have been made in the past few years. Is it enough to drive down the price of large-scale battery technology? Well, it won’t happen tomorrow, obviously. But interestingly, that lede hides a lot of harm that the automakers have purposefully done to ensure battery technology remains expensive.
How many battery technology patents does GM and Ford hold? More than a few. They’ve held them for years (in some cases decades) now. Why haven’t they employed them in a larger-scale effort? Because their executives saw no reason to allow cars to be weaned off of fossil fuels. While sitting on those patents, those same automakers also spent millions on lobbying to ensure that fuel economy standards remained the lowest in the industrialized world. Those two things didn’t happen in two separate vacuum chambers. There were part of a coordinated and idiotic business strategy that most people recognize has failed spectacularly.
Battery technologies that will allow sub-15 minute recharges are being researched and developed. Battery technologies that push the maximum range of a vehicle are being researched and developed. Where are this information and more in this pro-failed-industry article? Nowhere to be found. It will take a President who isn’t beholden to fossil fuel corporations to change the heavyweight auto manufacturer’s way of doing business. Without that effort, the so-called Big 3 will (would have already) fail(ed). There are plenty of start-up companies out there who are looking to expand the marketplace of plug-in hybrid vehicles.
The article notes that it took 8 years to get 1 million hybrids on U.S. roads. The article fails to note that during that time, gasoline never got higher than $2 per gallon. Energy realists recognize that sub-$2 gas will become a rarity in the near future. Prices are more likely to remain higher in the future as the scarcity of oil becomes more apparent. If it costs $4 per gallon (or more), auto manufacturers won’t be able to make plug-in hybrids fast enough to satisfy demand, as Toyota and Honda discovered last year with their respective hybrid brands.
Is 1 million plug-in hybrids by 2015 an audacious goal? Absolutely, it is. That was one reason to set it. Even if it isn’t explicity reached, moving down that path will become a critical factor in our efforts to deal with climate change, national security and our economy. The demand is there – it has been present for a long while. The outdated major auto manufacturers have prevented sustainable progress toward Obama’s (Americans’) goal for many years. It’s no wonder they’re failing. Other companies will step in to meet that demand eventually. And it will happen despite the corporate media’s attempts to sabotage it.
Cross-posted at SquareState.