Oregon EV goals are a pipe dream

By William MacKenzie,

On Nov. 6, 2017, Gov. Kate Brown signed Executive Order 17-21 stating, “It is the policy of the State of Oregon to establish an aggressive timeline to achieve a statewide goal of $50,000 or more registered and operating electric vehicles by 2020.”

In 2019, Senate Bill 1044 restated the Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) adoption target as 50,000 registered on Oregon roads by 2020.

It didn’t happen.

Even in 2021, the number of registered and operating electric vehicles in Oregon totaled just 38,000.

Senate Bill 1044 also set a target of 250,000 registered Zero Emission Vehicles on Oregon roads by 2025.

That ain’t gonna happen either.

As of July 2023, there were 51,355 Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs), vehicles powered solely by an electric battery, with no gas engine parts, registered and operating in Oregon, according to .the Oregon Department of Energy.[1] The number of Oregon-registered zero emission vehicles on Oregon roads as of September 2023 was just 70,000.  The likelihood that this number will grow to 250,000 over the next 12 months is nil.

In December 2022, Gov. Brown, in a burst of environmental overreach that slavishly followed California’s lead, announced that all new cars sold in Oregon would have to be emissions-free starting in 2035.

The way things are going, that’s a pipe dream.

The fact is adoption of zero emission EVs is falling far behind earlier exuberant expectations. Sales are growing, but the rate of growth is slowing and unsold inventory is piling up for multiple brands., despite car companies offering discounts and low-interest rates in an attempt to propel demand. The only segment seeing significant growth in demand is hybrids, which are not zero emission vehicles.

“The first wave of buyers willing to pay a premium for a battery-powered car has already made the purchase, dealers and executives say, and automakers are now dealing with a more hesitant group, just as a barrage of new EV models are expected to hit dealerships in the coming years,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

As a result, car companies are cutting back on plans for battery plants and EV production.

In mid-December, for example, Ford announced it was cutting its 2024 F-150 Lightning products by half. Ford has delayed about $12 billion in new EV investments, reducing some Mustang Mach-E production and postponing opening one of two planned Kentucky planned battery plants.

The high cost of EVs is one major factor that will likely continue to hold back their widespread adoption in Oregon. EVs remain much more expensive than internal combustion engine vehicles, especially in North America. High interest rates will also restrain purchases. Consumer frustrations with the availability of EV chargers, excessive charging times, questions about reliability and high repair costs are also undermining early robust sales predictions.

While maintenance costs for EVs are proving to be lower than for internal combustion vehicles (EV-owners spend half as much maintaining their vehicles as their gasoline-owning counterparts, according to Consumer Reports), repairs after collisions can cost thousands of dollars because the fixes tend to require more replacement parts, the vehicles are more complicated and fewer people do such repairs.

The market is reflecting the concerns about EVs as investors have responded to the changed outlook for them. The iShares Self-Driving EV and Tech ETF | IDRV, set up in July 2019, seeks to track the investment results of an index composed of developed and emerging market companies that may benefit from growth and innovation in and around electric vehicles, battery technologies and autonomous driving technologies. A $10,000 investment at the fun’s inception would have more than doubled in value to $22,815 as of Nov. 2, 2021, but had declined to $14,432.58 as of Dec. 13, 2023.

So don’t bet the farm on EV predictions by politicians and bureaucrats. Their track record so far isn’t great

[1] There were also 23,328 Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) similar to a Hybrid, but with a larger battery and electric motor, plus a charging port and a gas tank, which cannot truly be considered Zero Emission Vehicles.