I love changing my mind. It's fun to admit I'm wrong rather than digging in my heels. Not only is it fun, but it's also way easier. And I also find I feel good after doing so, whereas when I try and defend a position I am growing unsure about, I feel worse, like I have a foreign object in my stomach.
So I wrote an article about something I changed my mind about. Specifically, I no longer believe the U.S. needs to build 500,000 public electric vehicle chargers, or a million, or whatever huge number various politicians and industry experts say. Instead of helping spur EV adoption, I worry this narrative actively undermines it, because charging EVs at home—something that can easily be done by the majority of American car owners—is constantly cited as one of the key benefits of EV ownership.
Of course, we still need more chargers, especially fast chargers, in strategic locations to create a true fast-charging network nationwide. And as more EVs get on the road, the more chargers we'll need to keep up capacity. But the number experts cite to plug those gaps is more like 10,000 to 30,000. That's still a lot, but far more manageable.
If you think I'm missing something important here about why 500,000 chargers is necessary, I really would love to hear from you—see above about changing my mind—but please, please read the article before emailing me. I beg you. I've gotten so many emails this week from people who didn't read the damn article. I can't learn anything from you if you just tell me what I already wrote.
Also, they're always men. Always.
In my experience most Americans talk about "foreign" automakers or "American" car companies but that's not a meaningful distinction anymore since most "foreign" automakers have factories in the U.S. and most "American" car companies make cars in Mexico that they then import to sell here. The meaningful distinction in this regard is union versus non-union labor. And boy are the non-union labor car companies mad as hell about a provision in the reconciliation bill that would add up to $4,500 in EV subsidies for cars made by union labor.
Here's a weird story about a Tesla fire that got blamed on a bad battery but was actually an alleged attempted insurance fraud. Also a reminder the vast majority of criminals are extremely dumb.
One demoralizing thing about living in America today is how we stare important problems in the face and don't even pretend we're going to do anything to actually address them.
David Zipper, who writes about transportation and mobility for Slate and CityLab, wrote in his newsletter about why he likes to learn about the car industry:
"I’ve tried to understand automobiles because I've grown uneasy with what seems like a reflexive 'all-cars-bad' posture of some urban advocates. It’s not that I think cars are good for cities – if you’re reading this newsletter, you know that I don’t – but I do accept two realities: 1) the vast majority of Americans drive, and probably will for some time, and 2) if we really want to address the problems cars create, we need to understand which steps are easily doable (revising crash safety ratings to reward designs that are less threatening to vulnerable road users) and which require a Herculean lift (mandating speed governors that reflect the surrounding speed limit)."
I recently tweeted something along these lines in a less diplomatic way and I got dragged real good by exactly the type of "all-cars-bad" people David refers to here. Naturally, because it was a tweet, it came off in the worst possible way and got interpreted in the most uncharitable manner. Obviously, the fault was all mine for tweeting and I had no one to blame but myself.
But it did make me reflect on all the times I did the same to other people on Twitter and how I probably came off like just as big of an asshole as these people did to me. The lesson of course is Twitter is a bad place and everyone comes off badly even (especially?) if you think you just nailed a vicious own.
But I'm glad I sent the tweet because I learned that when you assume the worst about other people, you show the worst of yourself.
In any event, here's an article about why experts thought all cars would be hybrids by 2020 and why they were so very, very wrong.
Speaking of things that got me dragged on Twitter, walking places is part of the culture wars now, because everything is.
I'm working my way through Reaganland, the final volume in Rick Perlstein's series on the rise of American right-wing conservatism. The series was my major reading project for the year and it has transformed my understanding of this country. It is also a combined 3,000 pages, give or take, so probably a project for the childless. I hear those little whippersnappers take up a lot of time.
I don't know if I've ever posted my own cat in here? She is obviously the cat I see the most.
Harriet is a very special cat. She is allergic to everything, including trees, grass, and humans. She was going through some tough times last year when the allergies first started and she got some nasty infections but she's on medication now and doing much better. Here she is in her favorite basket, staring at me while monitoring the birds in the tree behind her with her ears.
Thanks as always for reading. Take it easy.