Why do I care so much, or rail so much here on the blog, about electric cars (EV). Why should parking give a damn. Its a car, people need to park it, so we should supply the space, at a fair cost, and there you go. Why keep beating this horse?
Because it is typical of what we are seeing all around us. The free market is not being allowed to work and our tax dollars are being used to alter the marketplace. If you do your research, you will find that government rules in the Clinton and Early Bush years led directly to the recession we now enjoy. The unintended consequences of urging banks to loan to folks who simply couldn’t afford a new house and then covering the junk mortgages that were created and sold by the banks to Fannie and Freddie, led to extremely high housing prices, flipping and refinancing, and in the end, the crash. Had our well intended government left well enough alone, banks would not have taken the risk to loan all that ‘free’ money, people who are moving back to rentals now from overpriced hovels would never have moved in the first place, and all would have been right with the world. Seem simplistic? Perhaps but that famous unintended consequences law seems to work every time.
Now we are beginning to see what government intervention can do to the automobile industry. Left to its own devices, the industry would do what was best for it, that is sell cars. They would do it based on what the market demanded. Higher gas mileage would come based on the fact that many people wanted to pay less for the fuel required. If you remember, a few years back, Ford decided that small cars would never catch on and decided to continue to build gas guzzlers. Guess what? They lost a large percentage of the market and had to completely rethink their approach. They did so, and were able to survive the economic downturn without a bailout.
The government has pushed ethanol and thus raised the price of food world wide. (40% of all corn grown now goes to ethanol). Its said that over 200,000 people a year are dying due to the high cost of food in poorer countries. And don’t get me started on Rachael Carlson. Of course even greens now say ethanol is not environmentally sound.
The unintended consequences for EVs aren’t knowable yet but I can guess on a few. People will not want to pay more for the high mileage cars (about $9,500 per car) and will keep their existing cars longer. Thus, the auto industry, and its coexistent millions of jobs, will stagnate. The EV requires batteries that use really bad materials and already we are seeing cancer rates in areas that mine them (like China) skyrocketing. Think about the problems when disposal.
The Parking Industry is being asked to install charging stations so we are ready for the influx of battery powered vehicles, but the numbers aren’t there. Our country is bankrupt but it is paying for this infrastructure (you can be garage owners aren’t) that would happen almost instantly if the EV market took off.
The predictions are that EVs will remain a niche market. As mileage improves on traditional powered vehicles, they will continue in popularity. Right now, only about 6% of the US auto market is ‘green,” that is inclined to purchased EV or hybrid. This number is about three times higher in Europe and China. Perhaps due to shorter commutes and high gas prices. With the market so small in the US and even then most of the purchases will be hybrid (why pay 20-% more for a car that requires you plug it in somewhere at the end of your trip.)
As an industry we have jumped on the green bandwagon. And a great wagon it is too. Lots of beautiful music and great plans. Lets just be sure we are doing these things because they are the right thing to do.
LEED has already thrown parking garages under the bus. We can’t be LEED certified any more unless we are a multiuse facility. What next? Maybe we won’t be certified LEED if we have more than what, 300 spaces.