by Todd G. Buchholz at marketwatch.com
In the early 1990s, every self-respecting American yuppie and retired suburban couple bought an electric bread maker, with sales hitting 4 million units. But the fad soon faded as these amateur bakers discovered that stuffing a precise quantity and ratio of flour, eggs, butter, yeast and salt into a metal box takes time and costs much more than strolling to the corner bakery.
Are plug-in electric vehicles the bread makers of our day?
Despite Tesla TSLA, 1.11% Chief Executive Elon Musk’s entrepreneurial brilliance and billions of dollars in U.S. government subsidies to support EVs, it appears that consumers still prefer to drive to a gas station for a five-minute fill-up than to retrofit their garage and suffer the range anxiety that comes from hunting for a charging station in the parking lot of an abandoned shopping mall. J.D. Power reports that 21% of public chargers do not work in any case. As consumers start to shy away from EVs, their choice will affect not just the car industry, but U.S.-China relations, state budgets and commodity prices.
The evidence is rolling in fast. Earlier this month, Hertz HTZ, 1.82%, which purchased 100,000 Teslas to great fanfare in 2021, executed a squealing 180-degree turn and began dumping one-third of its EV fleet, taking a $245 million charge against its earnings. Its pledge to buy 175,000 EVs from GM GM, 0.31% will likely go up in smoke, too.