Should gas cars be phased out?


Fact Box

  • German scientist Karl Friedrich Benz is credited with inventing the first gas-powered automobile in 1885-86. Before that, automobiles were run by steam and electric carriage. 
  • Gas cars use a spark-ignited combustion engine to run. This type of engine operates by injecting fuel into the combustion chamber to create a fuel/air mixture that ignites by a spark made by the spark plug.
  • In 2022, Americans used 134.55 billion gallons of finished motor gasoline, which is the equivalent of about 368.63 million gallons per day.
  •  According to the EPA, typical passenger vehicles emit about 1.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually.
  • A July 2023 Pew Research poll found that “about four-in-ten Americans (38%) say they’re very or somewhat likely to seriously consider an electric vehicle (EV) for their next vehicle purchase.”

Curtice (No)

The market, not the government, is much more efficient at determining what consumers consume. Throughout history, governments have tried to restrict or require what consumers buy, usually under the guise of 'it's for your own good.' Both state and worldwide governments should not forcibly eliminate options for consumers. 

EVs cost several thousand dollars more to purchase than gas-powered cars. The US has to subsidize EV purchases because they are too expensive and unpopular amongst most car buyers. The government does not need to incentivize a behavior or a product that is already popular. 

Although it's been touted that EVs are cheaper over the long run, a recent study found that it's more expensive to charge an EV than fill up a gas vehicle. While you can find one or more gas stations at nearly every major intersection, today, EV charging stations are few and far between. And the EV batteries are not very efficient, making long trips much longer by requiring many and lengthy stops at charging stations along the way—if any can be found.

Given that these vehicles require electricity, any electric outages like the brownouts and blackouts California experiences annually or an attack on the power grid puts EV owners in a vulnerable position. If one needs electricity to travel and that is not available, one simply cannot travel. And when one considers that the electric power grids rely heavily on natural gas, coal, and other renewable sources to produce electricity, many of the environmental benefits that are touted for EV vehicles disappear.

Finally, EV batteries are actually terribly harmful to the environment. They require lithium, which is not clean and must be mined. The advantages of gas vehicles have been known for decades, while the disadvantages of EVs are just now being realized.

Sam (Yes)

Phasing out gas cars stands to benefit the economy, national security, and the environment. The auto-industry job market's growth is expected due to increased EV sales and the market share of US-assembled vehicles. Additionally, since the phasing out of gas-powered vehicles will necessitate an increase in the number of EVs on the market, the price for the latter will decrease, greatly benefiting the average consumer. On the supplier side, phasing out gas vehicles means more market pressure for EV development, manufacturing, and marketing to be more cost-efficient to ensure the product is affordable and, therefore, attractive to consumers. 

Phasing out gas vehicles and filling the gap in the market with EVs is also predicted to decrease our oil demand greatly. This decreased demand is forcing oil companies to remain innovative to stay relevant in the energy sector. For example, the oil and gas giant BP is investing in EV charging stations. Decreased oil dependence can also enhance national security efforts because the US will be less affected by oil supply disruptions from political conflicts with oil-rich countries. 

Lastly, gas-powered vehicles contribute far more greenhouse gas emissions than EVs do. EVs are also shown to have a smaller carbon footprint than gas vehicles in most cases. Therefore, phasing out gas vehicles is a significant factor in mitigating climate change and reducing air pollution. This environmentalist argument for phasing out of gas vehicles is also a social argument. Studies have shown that traffic-related air pollution disproportionally affects communities of lower socioeconomic status. Thus, phasing out gas vehicles even promotes social justice and equity.

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