Without More Affordable Options, Biden Admin’s 2030 EV Goal Is Running On Empty

David Shultz

David Shultz reports on clean technology and electric vehicles, among other industries, for dot.LA. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Outside, Nautilus and many other publications.

Without More Affordable Options, Biden Admin’s 2030 EV Goal Is Running On Empty
Eduardo Arcos

You probably don’t need a team of scientists to tell you that electric vehicles are expensive. A simple look at the sticker prices should do the trick: The average price of an EV in the United States in 2021 was “close to $60,000, before rebates and incentives, according to Kelley Blue Book. Compare that to just $42,380 for the average new car. And while there are several more affordable options on the road, the purchase price of electric options remains a barrier to decarbonizing the transportation sector in America… and scientists are here to study it.

In a new publication in "Frontiers in Environmental Science," researchers analyzed the current prices of EVs in the United States and tried to predict if the United States could meet its ambitious goal of 50% plug-in vehicle adoption by 2030.


In short, the team finds the goal feasible, but unlikely without drastic changes to the EV market. The main point: EVs need to get cheaper. The study cataloged 108 different plug-in electric vehicles that have been offered in the United States over the last decade and found that only 17 of them were affordable—affordable being defined as less than $45,000 before incentives and rebates. Of those 17 options, eight were no longer on sale in the country. And out of all the affordable EVs with at least four years on the market, not a single one sold more than 30,000 units.

John D. Graham, a professor of risk and policy analysis at Indiana University and the study’s first author, says that while it’s mathematically possible to hit the U.S.’s 50% goal without cracking into the affordable market, it’s wildly unrealistic: To do so you’d need to convert basically every single new luxury car sale to electric starting today.

“The notion that we're going to turn around and make all these pickup trucks and all these large SUVs electric by 2030, given lead times in the auto industry, is pretty implausible,” says Graham. “So what that tells us is that we have to accompany the penetration in the premium and luxury market with some penetration in the affordable market.”

This isn’t an impossible task. Both China and the European Union have seen significant growth in the affordable EV sector and have a larger total percentage of their vehicles running on batteries as a result. The trouble is, most of the affordable EVs in these markets fall into the compact, subcompact or micro categories, which simply do not sell in the U.S., regardless of whether they produce tailpipe emissions or not. Many of the small, affordable EVs that have failed in the United States have gone on to do well in European markets.

Graham says that short of mimicking the E.U. and raising gas prices to $8/gallon for a sustained period of time, there’s probably no way to push Americans back towards smaller cars. For better or for worse, roads in this country are mostly wide and standardized; things are further apart and density is often low in rural areas; there’s rarely a need for extreme maneuverability in tight spaces; and everyone else is already driving a tank, which means not driving one reduces your visibility and safety.

However the study also shows that affordable electric midsize crossovers and SUVs have had success in European markets. Which bodes well for EV adoption here in the U.S. Unlike the compacts, these are two of the most popular market segments in this country and could be ideal targets for affordable EV offerings. There are several such vehicles in the pipeline–particularly the Ford Mustang Mach-E and the Volkswagen ID.4–that may begin to gain traction if America shares even just a few of Europe’s buying habits.

Of course, this entire saga is playing out against the backdrop of the EV purchasing rebates included in the newly-minted Inflation Reduction Act. I’ve written about this extensively about how it’s too soon to understand the full consequences of the legislation. Currently, there are too many variables, especially surrounding supply chain, lithium mining and the potential of next-generation battery tech, to make a realistic assessment. The new study agrees that things are still up in the air.

On one hand, Graham applauds setting income caps on buyers to avoid the appearance that the government is subsidizing $86,000 Porche Taycan purchases for the wealthy. But on the other hand, he says, since the act mandates that EV parts and manufacturing come from North America, it will likely reduce how many vehicles apply for the cash back and further slow adoption. Adding that if the government really wanted to make EVs more accessible to average citizens, they should have set price caps for which vehicles apply closer to $45,000 rather than the $55,000 for cars and the $80,000 cap for trucks and SUVs that the act establishes.

🚁 One Step Closer to Air Taxis in LA
Image Source: Joby Aviation

🔦 Spotlight

Joby Aviation, a pioneering electric air taxi company, has achieved a significant milestone by successfully flying a hydrogen-electric aircraft demonstrator for 523 miles with only water as a byproduct. This groundbreaking flight showcases the potential for emissions-free regional travel using vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, eliminating the need for traditional runways. The company's innovative approach combines its existing battery-electric air taxi technology with hydrogen fuel cells, paving the way for longer-range, environmentally friendly air travel.

For LA residents, this development holds exciting implications for future transportation options. Joby's technology could potentially enable direct flights from LA to destinations like San Francisco or San Diego without the need to visit conventional airports, offering a cleaner and more convenient alternative to current travel methods. The company's progress in both battery-electric and hydrogen-electric aircraft positions it at the forefront of next-generation aviation, promising to revolutionize urban and regional mobility.

Notably, Joby Aviation has already made strides in Southern California by securing an agreement with John Wayne Airport earlier this year to install the region's first electric air taxi charger. This strategic move sets the stage for LA to be among the initial markets where Joby will launch its electric air taxi service. With plans to commence commercial operations as early as 2025 using its battery-electric air taxi, LA residents may soon have access to a fast, quiet, and environmentally friendly mode of transportation that could significantly reduce travel times and traffic congestion in the region. In the not too distant future, LA might find itself in an identity crisis without traffic and excess smog 🤞🤞.


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Fuel Innovation: 7 Unforgettable Team Building Experiences in LA
Image Source: Discover LA

In today's competitive business landscape, team building activities have emerged as a crucial tool for fostering a positive work environment, enhancing productivity, and crucially, improving employee retention. Studies have shown that such activities help employees feel valued, with one report indicating that 93% of those who felt appreciated were more motivated at work. Importantly, team building events may improve retention rates, as employees who feel connected to their colleagues and company culture are more likely to stay long-term. With these benefits in mind, let's explore some of the most engaging and effective team building activities available in Los Angeles.

Pickleball

Image Source: Modern Luxury Angelino

Pickleball is a fantastic team bonding activity because of the easy-to-grasp rules and gentle pace make it perfect for everyone, regardless of age or fitness level. The game thrives on communication and teamwork, as players must collaborate and strategize to outplay their opponents, boosting team cohesion. Plus, the lively, fast-paced action sparks friendly competition and laughter, creating a fun and spirited atmosphere that brings everyone closer together. Los Angeles boasts numerous pickleball courts that are easy to rent if you have your own equipment. If you need additional assistance organizing your pickleball outing, there are plenty of full-service companies ready to handle every detail for you.

Resources: Pickle Pop, Corporate Pickle


Escape Room

Image Source: The Escape Game

Escape rooms are a great way to build camaraderie. They require participants to work together, combining their problem-solving skills and creativity to overcome challenges and puzzles. The immersive and time-sensitive nature of escape rooms fosters collaboration and communication. Additionally, the shared experience of tackling complex tasks and reaching a common goal helps build trust and foster positive emotions among colleagues.

Resources: The Escape Game, 60Out


Day Trip to Catalina Island

Image Source: Love Catalina

Catalina Island is a perfect day trip for a team because it provides a break from the usual work environment, allowing team members to relax and connect in a new setting. Shared experiences during the trip, such as exploring new places and participating in fun activities, help build stronger relationships and foster a sense of camaraderie. There are numerous team-building activities such as an arboreal obstacle course, an island tour, scavenger hunts and more.

Resources: Catalina Island Group Activities


Top Golf

Image Source: Topgolf

Topgolf is an excellent team building event because it provides an inclusive, relaxed atmosphere that accommodates players of all skill levels, fostering personal connections and improving team morale. The unique blend of competition and entertainment creates an ideal setting for building trust, enhancing communication, and revealing hidden skills among team members. Additionally, Topgolf offers structured team building packages with guided activities, discussion prompts, and lessons on culture, change, collaboration, and strategy, making it a versatile and effective platform for strengthening relationships and boosting overall team performance.

Resources: Topgolf El Segundo


SoFi Stadium Tour

Image Source: Discover LA

A SoFi Stadium tour offers a unique, behind-the-scenes experience of one of the world's most advanced sports venues, allowing team members to explore exclusive areas like premium suites, team locker rooms, and the player tunnel together. The tour provides a shared, memorable experience that can foster camaraderie and spark conversations among team members, regardless of their interest in sports. Additionally, the stadium's state-of-the-art features and impressive architecture can inspire creativity and innovation, while the group setting encourages interaction and collaboration, making it an engaging and enjoyable activity for teams of various sizes and backgrounds

Resources: SoFi Stadium Group Tours


Corporate Volunteering

Image Source: L.A. Works

Volunteer work serves as an excellent team building activity by uniting employees around a shared, meaningful cause, fostering a sense of purpose and collective accomplishment. It provides opportunities for team members to collaborate in new ways, often revealing hidden strengths and leadership qualities that may not be apparent in the regular work environment. Additionally, engaging in community service can boost morale, enhance the company's reputation, and instill a sense of pride among employees, leading to improved workplace relationships and increased job satisfaction.

Resources: Habitat for Humanity, L.A. Works, VolunteerMatch


Corporate Improv Sessions

Image Source: Improv for the People

A corporate improv class encourages spontaneity, creativity, and quick thinking, skills that are valuable in the workplace. It promotes active listening and collaboration, as participants must work together to create scenes and respond to unexpected situations, fostering better communication and trust among team members. Additionally, the playful and often humorous nature of improv helps break down barriers, reduces stress, and creates a shared positive experience that can improve team morale and cohesion long after the event.

Resources: Improv-LA, Groundlings, Improv for the People

🎬 Paramount and Skydance Are Back On
Image Source: Paramount

Happy Friday Los Angeles! Hope you all had a fantastic Fourth!!

🔦 Spotlight

Paramount and Skydance Media have rekindled talks to merge after negotiations abruptly halted in June. The proposed deal, contingent on approval from Paramount’s board, aims to combine Paramount’s extensive media holdings—including CBS, MTV, and Nickelodeon—with Skydance’s film expertise showcased in hits like "Top Gun: Maverick." This merger signals a potential transformation in the media landscape, positioning the new entity to compete more effectively amid challenges from streaming services and the decline of traditional cable TV.

Led by Shari Redstone, Paramount’s controlling shareholder via National Amusements, the deal represents a pivot towards revitalizing Paramount’s strategic direction amidst financial struggles and shareholder concerns. The involvement of major investors like RedBird Capital Partners and David Ellison underscores the financial backing aimed at stabilizing Paramount’s operations and addressing its $14 billion debt burden. Importantly, the agreement includes provisions to protect National Amusements from potential legal challenges, addressing previous hurdles that stalled earlier negotiations.

The deal also includes a 45-day period for Paramount to explore alternative offers, highlighting continued interest from other potential buyers like Barry Diller’s IAC and media executive Edgar Bronfman Jr. This flurry of activity underscores the significant stakeholders’ interest in Paramount’s future and its potential as a key player in a rapidly evolving media industry.


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