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60 over 60 More on EVs

September, 2021

John Van Horn

We are inundated with lists. If you check the The New York Times, Forbes, or any of the other major media outlets, you find lists of gazillionaires, houses over 100 million, young up and comers, 20 over 20, 30 under 30, 40 under 40 and just about anything you can name. However, maybe it’s my curmudgeon coming through, but I haven’t seen many lists of successful folks over, say, 60.


The most attended seminars at PIE 2021 were those featuring members of the industry with a bit of snow on the roof. It seemed that many of the younger members of our industry are starved for the wisdom of those who have been around for a while.


Any number of young attendees came up to me and told me how much they welcomed the insight of those who have 20, 30, and even, dare I say it, 40 years working in the parking trenches. When we planned seminars titled the “125 Years in Parking” or “The Fundamental Things Still Apply” or “The Original Nine” or “But on the Contrary” we didn’t realize how popular they would be.


Clyde, Barbara, Brandy, Mark, Roamy, and the “Original Nine” supporters of PT all brought a different view than we typically see at a trade show seminar. Most often, some youngster holds forth on the latest tech, cloud, app, or design. This august group called on their experience not to belittle the newbies, but to show just how important it is not to forget the fundamentals of running a garage or parking program at a city or university. “New ideas” are great and welcomed, but often they need to be tempered with “when we tried that 20 years ago, this happened.”


We come to trade events to get “new” ideas that we hope will make our jobs easier and our organizations run like well-oiled machines. But in truth, are not those ideas often “new” to us and not necessarily “new” to the industry? When Brian and Brandy talk about the customer experience are they not rephrasing a story that is as old as commerce itself? How do we make the customer number one?


Over the next few months, the pages of PT will be filled not only with ‘new’ and ‘tech,’ but also with the wisdom of the ages. Newbies will hold forth with their ideas, and then those more senior will comment. We begin this month on page 26.


Maybe we all can learn something.


An environmental realist who spoke at PIE a few years ago commented on politicians who got all hot and bothered about the latest environmental fad and then for whatever reason allowed their excitement to go fallow when they were out of office, indicating that they were simply riding a wave, and had no real skin in the game.


Today we have states like California mandating EV only sales within 15 years and considering outlawing any new fossil fuel filling stations within 5 years. Folks aren’t lining up to buy EVs but that’s ok, we will force them to do so.


The pesky little law of unintended consequences is kicking in, and the Golden State is having brown outs due to lack of electrical generating capacity. Seems that replacing power plants with solar and wind isn’t cutting it. And that’s with less than 2 percent of our vehicle fleet EV.


There have been no plans for increasing generating capacity, rebuilding the power grid, or anything like that to deal with electrical demand when all those electron guzzling cars show up in a decade or so. We have seen no proposals, no plans, no activity in this area, zero zip.


It’s easy to pass laws. But how do you deal with the consequences of those laws? Our governor here in California has signed executive orders to allow power generation (from ICE engines in mothballed ships) to help fill the void caused by lack of wind and solar power. Hmmm. If we were so smart in passing laws to curtail nuclear and gas fired power generation, where were the folks who were those voices in the wilderness talking about brown outs and the like?


California Governor Newsom has skin in this game. He is being recalled, and I’m guessing he doesn’t want his supporters voting in the dark.


But back to EVs. First of all, they appear to be an environmental disaster. The minerals required to make the batteries for the suckers come from China, Chile, and Australia. They are available here, but our green brothers and sisters have fought for laws to prevent the mining, which they say destroys the environment. However, forever NIMBY, these folks seem to think that destroying the environment in China is OK. You know China, that environmentally cogent country that is building coal fired power plants by the hundreds to keep its population in electricity.


From an article in autoverdict.com posted at Parknews.biz:


“According to KPMG, there are 31,753 public EV charging facilities in the United States but only 4,325 of these have DC fast chargers with 17,409 outlets. These are compared to 168,000 gas stations, which usually have at least eight pumps per station. Estimates are that it would cost more than $2 billion just to set up homes and workplaces with enough chargers to meet the needs anticipated in 2025 in the top 100 metropolitan areas; and exponentially more to match the nation’s current gasoline distribution network.”


These are not simple problems. People who live in low-income areas, who don’t have garages, who park on the street, or maybe in apartment buildings, won’t easily have access to EV charging stations. Since most people will charge their cars overnight, that means that those folks will be out of luck. Or at least greatly inconvenienced. Remember, at best, charging your car with the fastest charger takes about 30 minutes, vs what, five minutes at a filling station?


As is usually the case, it’s our less advantaged citizens who get it in the neck.


Wouldn’t it be better to simply let the marketplace do its job? Why do we have to have a binary solution, all or nothing? Let folks who want EVs buy them, allow the power companies to slowly fill the need for charging power as required, and get on with our lives. It seems to me that mandating an impossible solution to a problem isn’t the answer. All it does is allow my favorite law, that of unintended consequences, to kick in.


Of course, all this may just fade away, like the California Bullet Train, when reality kicks in and politicians have another pony to ride.


Just sayin’.



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