Tennessee Investments in Electric Cars Don’t Seem to Have the Best Track Record

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Some research shows manufacturers of electric cars wouldn’t make a tidy profit in a pure free market system because, at least right now, there isn’t enough demand for that product.

So that’s why government gets involved.

Tennessee officials have done a lot this decade to help subsidize and promote electric cars, and they’ve reportedly done so again. As The Tennessee Star reported, state officials have given Volkswagen some type of concessions to compel the company to build electric cars in Chattanooga.

As Nashville Public Radio reported, state officials spent years pitching the state as Volkswagen’s best choice for an electric car manufacturing facility.

“Drew Frye, Technology Innovation Engineer at TVA, confirms the utility and other transportation stakeholders have met for several years to build out the state’s electric vehicle network,” according to Nashville Public Radio.

The state’s Department of Environment and Conservation, the radio network went on report, helped make the pitch to Volkswagen.

As The Tennessee Star reported last fall, former Tennessee Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen said in 2010 that during the coming decade we’d see a surge of electric vehicles on the state’s roads and highways.

So certain of it, he handed out $2.5 million in government money to encourage people to buy EVs — the Nissan Leaf only, manufactured in Smyrna.

Now that the decade is nearly out, evidence indicates Bredesen was no visionary.

Who Really Drives Electric Vehicles?

In 2018 the Daily Caller reported EVs aren’t popular and only people with six-figure incomes generally have them.

As reported in 2015, Tennessee had 2,568 registered EVs on the road.

In three years, that number has increased, slightly, to 3,735 EVs. Davidson County, meanwhile, currently has 746 registered EVs, according to the Tennessee Department of Revenue.

Also, as The Star reported last fall, taxpayers have paid millions of dollars to help electric vehicle manufacturers not only get their products out on the road but also furnish electric car charging stations all over Nashville.

Prior reporting shows few people around Nashville appear to use these charging stations.

Yet officials with the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Nashville Electric Service expect more and more Nashville drivers will soon take up the habit of driving electric cars.

They’re preparing a study to gauge how Nashvillians can best prepare.

According to a press release, FleetCarma, TVA, the NES, and the Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation are launching something called SmartCharge Nashville.

The statement says people interested in buying EVs wonder how far they can drive before they need a charge. Utilities also need to prepare for more EVs on the road, the release said.

SmartCharge is supposed to help with both of those things.

Tennessee Watchdog reported in 2011 that most consumers have no desire to own an EV because they cost more than traditional vehicles and can only travel 100 miles before they need a recharge.

In 2013, Tennessee Watchdog, for several hours, monitored some of Nashville’s nearly 600 electric charging stations at three destinations – the Loveless Café, the Brentwood Public Library, and the Nashville Airport Marriott.

Not a single person showed up to use any one of them.

The private firm ECO-tality paid half of the $230-million costs to deploy those electric chargers in 21 cities throughout nine states, including Tennessee. Federal taxpayers paid the balance.

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to chrisbutlerjournalist@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

 

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3 Thoughts to “Tennessee Investments in Electric Cars Don’t Seem to Have the Best Track Record”

  1. […] As reported, former Tennessee Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen said nine years ago that between 2010 to 2020 we’d see a surge of electric vehicles on the state’s roads and highways. […]

  2. […] Tennessee Star reported last fall, former Tennessee Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen said in 2010 that during the coming decade we’d […]

  3. […] The Tennessee Star has reported, some research shows manufacturers of electric cars wouldn’t make a tidy profit in a pure free […]

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