Electric Cars

Commentary by Pete du Pont

Host intro: Would you buy a car that's too expensive, isn't always ready to go when you need it, and won't travel across town and back? If the answer's yes, Pete du Pont of the National Center for Policy Analysis has one for you.

I'd forgotten about electric cars until I saw the note in Investor's Business Daily that California's program is moving -- well, crawling -- ahead.

California mandated that 10 percent of the cars on the road have to be electric by 2003. It's a classic example of government demanding the impossible for political reasons.

The current car of choice is the General Motors "Impact," a name more hopeful than accurate. On one battery charge, the Impact goes about 79 miles. It takes two to three hours to charge the batteries at home, up to 15 hours with a portable charger if you run out of juice on the road. Monthly leasing fees will be $500 to $640. Between charging equipment and lease fees, you could pay $9,200 a year for a car can't go 80 miles.

The problem isn't GM's. The technology just isn't there yet. The problem is government wishing something were so, and telling the people they have to wish it too.

By the way, GM has a profile of the ideal Impact owner: environmentally conscious, earning $120,000 a year, with two gas-powered cars. In other words, a well-off tree hugger looking for a toy.

Those are my ideas, and at the NCPA, we know ideas can change the world. I'm Pete du Pont, and I'll see you tomorrow.

Host outro: Coming up Friday, why do we have such trouble teaching kids math and science? Pete du Pont has some ideas.