TrendMacro conversation with Mark P. Mills on the impossible dream of electric vehicles

Thursday, August 3, 2023
Donald L. Luskin

EVs will get increasingly expensive to produce, will make carbon emissions worse, and rob electricity from artificial intelligence.

Update to Strategic View

The ambition to replace the internal combustion-powered fleet with electric vehicles runs up against insurmountable barriers. EVs are not simpler – their simpler motors are offset by their vastly more complex fuel reservoirs, batteries instead of a gas tank. The energy costs to manufacture EVs, especially batteries – which entail mining and refining of scarce minerals – make their lifetime carbon emissions worse than conventional vehicles. Global mining capacity is in decline, so these minerals are likely to get more scarce, and more expensive too. A global electric fleet would require vastly more electricity than the world can currently produce, and for all the subsidies, renewable energy is expanding only glacially. The world’s electricity grid is not prepared for the concentration of demand at charging stations that have yet to be built. Electricity demand will grow anyway because of the high power demands of artificial intelligence, so fueling mobility with electricity (when it is already adequately fueled by oil) would be a waste of a scarce and increasingly valuable marginal input.