Washington Post Pulls Rug Out from Under Electric Cars

Media Matters is up in arms over Washington Post's editorial calling for end of federal tax credit on electric-drive vehicles.

Published: 08-Jan-2012

Just as mainstream automakers are beginning to launch electric vehicle (EV) technology, The Washington Post is calling for an end to federal tax credits encouraging consumers to purchase electric cars. The Post's editorial coincides with a Republican proposal (not mentioned in the editorial) to repeal the tax credits, which date back to the latter years of the George W. Bush administration. Continuing what has become a pattern in the paper's energy coverage, the Post presents a selective and short-sighted version of the facts.

Take, for instance, the argument that "only upper-income consumers can afford to buy an electric vehicle." In a highly misleading move, the Post provides the price of only one EV option, the luxury $100,000 Fisker Karma. By contrast, the after-credit cost of a Nissan Leaf is $27,700. A CNNMoney guide to the "remarkable assortment" of plug-in cars coming online in 2012 quotes prices starting "from $22,000." Beyond the sticker price, EVs have lower operating costs and represent the only option most families have for really shielding their financial security from perennial spikes in the price of gasoline.

The Post goes on to argue that the electric car industry is "not ready for prime time," saying "sales of electric vehicles were disappointing in 2011." Chelsea Sexton, an electric car advocate who has advised GM, said via email that 2011 sales of electric cars have for the most part "been limited by production, not demand." "Even so, 2011 [EV] sales were nearly double first year (2000) hybrid sales," Sexton added.

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