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What Pete Buttigieg Could Learn About Electric Cars From a 17-Year-Old Florida Girl

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg hit a real live wire Tuesday when he said that “the more pain” Americans feel at the pump, the “more benefit” drivers of electric vehicles receive.

SO WHAT

Avery Siwinski and her family beg to differ.

SHOT

During Buttigieg’s testimony before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Republicans questioned the Biden administration’s goal of having 50 percent of vehicles on the market be electric by 2030.

“The more pain we are all experiencing from the high price of gas, the more benefit there is for those who can access electric vehicles,” Buttigieg replied at one point.

  • Asked if he had just said “the more pain we have, the more benefit we’re gonna get,” Buttigieg claimed he had not, emphasizing his desire to make EVs more affordable.
  • Buttigieg — who has frequently pushed the White House’s EV agenda as a solution to high gas prices — doubled down on CNBC Wednesday.
  • “I’m still astonished that some folks – and I was testifying in Congress yesterday – some folks really struggle to let go of the status quo,” he told “Squawk Box” host Joe Kernen.

CHASER

Avery, a 17-year-old resident of St. Petersburg, Florida, was shocked to learn the replacement battery for her used 2014 Ford Focus Electric would cost more than her family paid for the car, CBS affiliate WTSP reported last week.

“It was fine at first,” Avery told WTSP. “I loved it so much. It was small and quiet and cute. And all the sudden it stopped working.”

  • When Avery and her grandfather Ray Siwinski went to a dealership, the price they were quoted to replace the battery was $14,000.
  • The family had bought the car for $11,000 on Carvana, an online dealer.
  • To add insult to injury, since the Focus Electric model had been discontinued by Ford years earlier, the battery they needed to fix the car wasn’t even available.

“If you’re buying a new one, you have to realize there is no second-hand market right now because the manufacturers are not supporting the cars,” Ray Siwinski said.

THE NUMBERS

As Buttigieg argued in detail during Tuesday’s hearing, EVs have come down in price in recent years.

Still, even the cheapest models cost more than most Americans earn in a year.

  • The average sale price of an EV in April of last year was $51,532 — $11,000 more than a full-size gas-powered car and $30,000 more than a compact vehicle, according to Kelley Blue Book.
  • The standard Nissan Leaf, which is among the cheapest EVs in the U.S. market, has an effective base price of $20,875 once you factor in the government’s $7,500 federal tax credit.
  • But the car is too small for many families and can only go 150 miles before it needs a charge.
  • recent study by AAA found that, on average, it costs $600 more a year to own an EV than a gas-powered counterpart despite savings on fuel and maintenance.

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