We Need Cheap EVs Now More Than Ever

Goodbye Chevy Spark with no EV equivalent on the horizon

You might not even have known it was still in production, but the very inexpensive Chevy Spark is going away. With an out-the-door price of $14,595 that included destination fees, the Spark was one of a small handful of vehicles that didn't break the $20,000 barrier. 

As production winds down for the little car, the average cost of a new vehicle in the United States has skyrocketed to a bank-busting $47,000. Supply chain constraints have affected the price of a new vehicle, but it's not like before the pandemic when the average cost of a new car was coming down.

The 2022 Chevy Spark.

Chevy

This situation is especially prevalent in the electric vehicle (EV) space. With the exception of two vehicles, the Nissan Leaf and the Mini SE, getting an EV below $30,000 that breaks the 200-mile barrier just isn't happening any time soon. 

That's a huge blow to the plan to get more drivers behind the wheel of EVs. The reality is that many working families that can only afford a single vehicle are better off buying something that runs on gas that can handle all their tasks.

The 149-mile entry-level Nissan Leaf might be a great errand and commuter car, but it's not going to work out as an only car as affordable housing is being pushed further and further away from urban areas where many people work and the public transportation infrastructure hasn't been updated to keep up. 

Best Laid Plans

That's not to say that there haven't been plans to sell more inexpensive EVs. The whole premise of Tesla was to build expensive luxury cars and then use the money made from those vehicles to build less expensive vehicles for the masses. That didn't pan out so well. The $35,000 Model 3 didn't last very long, and even though CEO Elon Musk had announced a $25,000 EV back in 2020, he has since backtracked on that proclamation

Volkswagen has an inexpensive EV coming, the ID.Life concept vehicle is expected to land in 2025 with a starting price of $22,500. And about 250-miles of range. Unfortunately, VW has not committed to selling the vehicle in the United States. 

The Volkswagen ID.Life Electric Vehicle.

Volkswagen

We Like Big Cars

Whether it's a fault of marketing or the idea that we need a just-in-case vehicle, the United States loves a big car. It's one of the reasons the Chevy Spark is going away. It's why we still have the Honda CRV, but not the Honda Fit. At least that's the prevailing thought. 

Meanwhile, Mini can't keep up with production on its fun-to-drive Mini SE EV. Although that's more of an enthusiast's vehicle than something built for the day-to-day lives of families. The problem is size costs money. The larger the vehicle, the more it weighs, the more it weighs, the larger the battery pack, and the more expensive the vehicle. 

The Same Game Plan

So while Tesla has backed out of delivering an inexpensive EV because it's too busy with humanoid robots and its ever-delayed Full Self Driving system, other automakers are trying to figure out their Master Plan. GM started with the Bolt but pivoted to large trucks and luxury SUV EVs. Ford is using its two biggest nameplates, the Mustang and F-150, to jumpstart its EV lineup while almost every other automaker is working on or selling some sort of small to mid-sized SUV EV. 

It makes sense. Those vehicles sell very well. Automakers still have to make a profit even while transitioning to EVs, and that's where the money is right now. 

"The reality is that many working families that can only afford a single vehicle are better off buying something that runs on gas..."

Less Tech, More Range

The hope is that sooner rather than later, the profits of these expensive EVs will be poured into building electric vehicles that can be purchased by those not looking for a second car but instead buying their only car and hoping to be greener while doing so. 

At the end of the day, EVs open up a ton of technological possibilities like autonomous vehicles. That doesn't mean those pieces of tech need to be shoved into every vehicle. Instead, maybe build an inexpensive EV without all the gimmicks and self-driving promises that delivers enough range for a family without requiring someone to get a second job. 

If we want EVs everywhere, we need to build EVs for everyone.

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