As I look over the pretty white dashboard with the silver rings in my Fiat 500e, I smile when I see another 500e on the road. Most of them have their stickers so they can ride in the car pool lane and skip tolls on the bridges. As a borrowed test car, mine doesn’t.
I enjoy seeing a BMW i3 whiz by. Nissan Leafs are common, distinguished from each other only by color. It’s nice to see the new 2016 Chevrolet Volt is taking off. I see them frequently, with their all-new look. Their unique taillamps flaunt a fresh signature on the way home at night.
But, we EV drivers are still a tiny minority on the highways and byways of America. For every one of us there are 100 Ford F150s or Toyota Camrys or Chevrolet Tahoes. Cheap gasoline has encouraged a boom in larger cars, so even intelligent choices like the Honda Fit or Hyundai Elantra languish.
Sergio Marchionne, head of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, said he’s ramping up production of big Jeeps and reducing production of smaller, more efficient Dodge Darts and Chrysler 200s. Why? Because big Jeeps are the cars that people are buying, and he has to run his company at a profit. It’s a good–even necessary–business decision, but it’s not helping the environment. Marchionne has already stated that FCA loses thousands of dollars on every little Fiat 500e it sells (although the company gets credits towards its Federal clean air obligations).
The people are speaking, and most of them are not EV enthusiasts. They want what they want and like. You can’t blame them. Like the climate crisis in general, if you can’t see it, it’s hard to muster up the energy to do anything about it.
To my left, a giant, black Cadillac Escalade momentarily blocks out the sun. It’s going to be a long haul (but worth it).