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I'm a Tesla shareholder, but after renting an EV, I know the market isn’t ready for prime time

OpinionI'm a Tesla shareholder, but after renting an EV, I know the market isn’t ready for prime time

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There I was, sitting in a hotel parking lot with 27 minutes before my speaking engagement in front of 700 people, including 500 CEOs. The digital screen of my electric vehicle blinked the time before a charged battery.

Nearly seven hours.

The sight hit me like a freight train – I was going to miss my talk.

I was scheduled to speak at Liberty University alongside my former boss, Linda McMahon, one of America’s most brilliant female entrepreneurs. But an untruthful Chevy Bolt EV odometer hijacked my plans.

bolt

Rental car company Hertz recently announced a $245 million U-turn on their EV plans – Hertz stock tumbling since. Hertz will dump about 20,000 EVs – nearly a third of its EV fleet – using some of that cash to buy gasoline-powered cars.

NEW REPORT UNMASKS TRUE COSTS OF ELECTRIC VEHICLE MANDATES: ‘REMAIN MORE EXPENSIVE’

This announcement didn’t surprise me one bit.

Hertz’s filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission stated these drastic measures would cut heavy losses from low-profit EV rentals, partially for their high “damage expense.”

Hertz refunded my rental and mailed me a $50 gift certificate. I understand why they’re bleeding money on EVs. The Hertz CEO claimed EVs were mainstream in 2022 – painfully wrong.

My slim Hertz pickings at Reagan Airport included a gas-powered car smelling like smoke (unhealthy and a bad scent for a Christian college) or a row of Chevy Bolt EVs. 

I chose a Bolt, a fateful decision as I quickly learned EV odometers’ capricious nature. Slippery creatures, Bolt odometers provide a maximum, average and minimum mileage estimate. 

This seemed strange – I’d be horrified if airplanes’ fuel tank metrics were mere possibilities. However, I felt safe because the EV gauge’s average read 223 miles in energy, a cushion of 48 miles. The maximum was 263, minimum 182 – still seven miles above the 175 from my destination. 

ELECTRIC VEHICLE DEMAND FALLS SHORT OF MANUFACTURER AND DEALERSHIP EXPECTATIONS

But after driving less than five miles, the odometer showed an average of 205 miles left, my minimum to 167 – already below the 170 miles I needed to arrive!

I pushed onward; Reagan’s Hertz wouldn’t open until 7 a.m. I made good time but unknowingly sabotaged myself. 

“Steady driving at highway speed drains the battery much faster than driving in stop-and-go traffic,” the U.S. Energy Department says. “Electric cars have regenerative braking systems that put some energy back into the battery when coasting and braking. So, unlike gas-powered cars, EVs typically get better mileage driving in the city.”

About 88 miles in, I showed 47 miles average, 57 maximum and 38 minimum – with 87 more miles left. My limbic system activated further with each mile. 

I panicked, frantically searching “EV charging stations” in Google Maps on my phone. The nearest fuel station included an electric charging station. The sleek, empty row of red and white EV chargers gleaned in the morning sun, each topped with futuristic, all-caps logo lettering Tesla. I breathed a sigh of relief, silently thanking Elon Musk.

But my heart sank when the metal fuel nozzle wouldn’t fit my car – it only worked for Teslas! 

MORE THAN 3,000 AUTO DEALERS SIGN LETTER OPPOSING BIDEN’S ELECTRIC VEHICLE MANDATE

An attendant and I examined the setup – like trying to charge an iPhone with a Samsung adapter – no dice. She didn’t have adapters, and my Hertz rental didn’t either. A sympathetic highway patrol officer patronizing the business helped fruitlessly search the car.

It was 7:46 a.m., and the cop advised calling ahead to Hertz in Charlottesville and swapping for a gas car. Unfortunately, he couldn’t accompany me. 

I called Hertz National, learning the central Charlottesville location had no gas cars available, and we couldn’t reach the Charlottesville airport Hertz counter.

Frazzled, I arrived in Charlottesville, searching for what Google Maps claimed was another EV charging station owned by EVgo, a company boasting more than 950 stations nationwide. I scoured the parking lot of a strip mall, debating on the phone with an EVgo staffer over whether this charging station existed. 

EVS SIGNIFICANTLY LESS RELIABLE THAN GAS-ENGINE CARS, CONSUMER REPORTS FINDS

It showed on Google Maps but not in person. My blood boiled. About 100 miles into the trip, with 75 miles to go, my eyes froze on the odometer. Only enough charge for 27 average miles. 

Finally, I limped to Hyatt Place Charlottesville, whose attendant said only hotel guests could use their EV chargers. I tried to remain calm, explaining my predicament. She kindly acquiesced, and the EV gauge mocked me: 8:48 a.m., but my car wouldn’t charge until 3:30 p.m.

I called Hertz, demanding a gas car save me from this EV nightmare. At the airport for my gas-powered replacement, sympathetic Hertz workers said I was perhaps their eighth or ninth Bolt rented from Reagan Airport dying in Charlottesville. Last April, GM announced it was scrapping the manufacturing of new Chevy Bolts, though in July it reversed, saying it would reboot with a new battery cell design. This was too little, too late for me.

I felt livid. But grateful to be safe. I was alone, on dry roads, during a sunny day. What if the battery died and I was elderly or with young children? Or in a dark, dangerous neighborhood, rural area, or icy or snowy? There could be severe injury or even death. 

SOME DEMOCRATS JOIN REPUBLICANS IN VOTING TO STRIKE DOWN BIDEN’S EV MANDATE

Women, in particular, should know EVs’ risks, since we are physically more vulnerable than men. 

Sure, gas-powered cars have fuel and battery problems, but Consumer Reports recently reported electric vehicles suffer nearly 80% more problems than gas-powered cars, while plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) bring 150% more problems.

Ironically, President Biden’s White House in April touted the Hertz EV fleet expansion during a briefing, pushing his unworkable target of 50% of all new vehicle sales being electric by 2030. Biden and California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s unrealistic EV mandates set us up for failure. They’re also giveaways to China, which dominates the EV battery market. Meanwhile, Biden blocks drilling on federal lands for critical minerals to build EV batteries at home. 

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Politico’s October survey of 50 mayors nationwide found “Fewer than 50% say their cities are somewhat or very prepared to support the widespread adoption of electronic vehicles,” while 24% said “not at all prepared.”

As a Tesla shareholder, I’m not anti-EV but oppose irrational government dictates. The EV market is not ready for prime time. It’s time for meddling politicians to embrace reality and roll back dangerous EV mandates.

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