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Low-Cost Personal Electric Vehicles are Ready to Deploy Now

Updated: Feb 14

We just need to make cities PEV friendlier

In my prior post I claimed that not only will the BEV rollout be very expensive, but that much of the cost will be paid by those that can afford it the least.  As such, it is only a matter of time before it is politically rejected.

The environment loses.

Disagree?  How do you really feel about the higher price of food and housing? Because that is you funding excessive government spending, your dollars spent on things like the BEV subsidy.

As an alternative emission reducing solution, consider instead PEV’s (Personal Electric Vehicles), which are battery powered transportation products such as E-bikes, E-scooters, and just about anything else that can move people around at a slower speed, for a shorter distance, and at a much lower cost than a BEV.  Yes, PEV replaces “micro-mobility”.

What are PEV’s good for?  How about the majority of trips that the average person makes each day, which are 5 miles or less.

Are PEV’s receiving a subsidy today?  They are, but a very small percentage of what BEV’s receive.  In California alone, a pilot E-bike program was launched in 2023 providing $13 million in vouchers for low-income households.  It is hoped that this program will expand to $50 million in 2024. In comparison, according to this report, since 2010, California has allocated more than $1.84 billion to three subsidy programs: the “Clean Cars 4 All” program, the “Clean Vehicle Rebate Project” and the “Clean Vehicle Assistance Program.”

$1.84 billion later and just 4% of the cars in California are EV’s. And we have yet to get serious about building a BEV charging infrastructure plus the additional renewable power sources.

50 million is about 2.7% of 1.84 billion, but if you factor in the required BEV infrastructure, the percentage is very small.  Let’s just round it up to 1%.  Given this, why are 99% of present and future state subsidies being directed towards less than half of total trips, those that are over 5 miles?

Is this logical?  Is this smart?

Here is a suggestion, and given California’s budget deficit, it is worth considering.  Instead of spending billions subsidizing BEV’s, with most of those dollars benefiting out-of-state BEV manufacturers, why not instead spend a much smaller amount making our city streets more PEV friendly?

Let’s follow the lead of the City of Encinitas, population 62,000, which after a tragic biking accident, declared a state of emergency and made it a high priority to improve bicycle safety. Residents of Encinitas can expect new bike lanes and bike crosswalks, highlighted in green, on various road segments throughout the city. At a modest cost of $1.1 million with much work completed in just one year, not by 2035.

Given California’s population of about 40 million, this would proportionally cost California about $700 million.  Much less than the many billions that the rollout of BEV’s, and the BEV infrastructure, will require.

By keeping the costs down, by keeping deficit spending to a minimum, this also ensures that more of the subsidies will be paid by the wealthy, a more progressive solution.

Once the streets of California (and hopefully the rest of U.S.) are PEV friendlier, more consumers will be willing to use PEV’s for transportation.  Encouraging, not forcing them, to purchase a clean energy transportation vehicle.

Well before 2035.

Then we sit back and let the free market do its thing.  Let the PEV manufacturers fairly compete, and let the consumers decide which PEV best meets their individual needs.  More PEV’s mean less traffic and more parking. Emissions are reduced as each ICE mile is replaced by a PEV mile.  There is no debate that the operational cost per mile of a PEV is much less than that of an ICE.

An alternative approach would be to directly subsidize PEV’s as is done with BEV’s today, which some states and cities are doing now on a very limited basis. But is this not a case of putting the horse before the cart?  What is the point of subsidizing the purchase of PEV’s if the perception is that many roads are not safe enough to ride them on?

No, the correct approach is the latter.

But are we really letting the free market “do its thing?”

Continued in my next blog….

Eric Johnson, a San Diego resident, is the author of “What the Hell is an Economy?” (2022, published by Amazon Kindle). For more information, go to


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