An electric car is seen on an assembly line at the Tesla factory in Tilburg, the Netherlands, on Aug. 22, 2013. (Guus Schoonewille – ANP – AFP / Getty Images)
By Isa Cox March 16, 2022 at 5:48pm
President Joe Biden and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg were roundly mocked by conservatives last week for suggesting that working-class Americans struggling to pay the ever-climbing prices at the pump should consider simply buying an electric vehicle instead.
It was the Biden-era equivalent of Marie Antoinette’s (admittedly apocryphal) adage, “Let them eat cake.”
Yet this simple solution floated by Democratic elites might just be even more fantastical than expecting average Americans to be in the financial position to switch to an EV as they struggle to afford groceries.
Turns out, the U.S. doesn’t only rely on Russia for oil imports — it relies on Russia for materials used to make EVs as well.
It’s almost like the Orange Man was on to something with all his “xenophobic” harping about cutting back on the nation’s reliance on foreign supplies. Weird.
CNBC reported this week that EV maker Tesla, which is owned by dissident billionaire Elon Musk, has procured materials such as aluminum from a Russian metals giant that was once sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department.
Musk, who routinely confuses the establishment left by making electric vehicles and also issuing controversial tweets that defiantly snub the preferred establishment narrative, was quick to throw his industrial might behind efforts to support Ukraine amid the Russian invasion.
So while it’s clear that CNBC is concerned about Musk and his company’s ties to dubious Russian oligarchs — the firm Tesla has a relationship with, Rusal, was founded by the sanctioned Russian Oleg Deripaska — the story serves to highlight a far more glaring issue than the pressure on Tesla to find new sources of aluminum.
As EuroNews reported last week, sanctions against Russia not only throw the global fossil fuel supply chain into disarray but shine a harsh light on the fact that those electric vehicles that Biden and Buttigieg think we can just run out and finance tomorrow to show our support for Ukraine are dependent on foreign suppliers as well.
Do you think U.S. sanctions are hurting Russia?
According to Gregory Miller, an industry forecaster analyst, “rising prices of nickel, lithium, and other materials threaten to slow and even temporarily reverse the long-term trend of falling costs of batteries, the most expensive part of EVs, hampering the broader adoption of the technology.”
“Rising raw material prices certainly have the potential to delay the timeline on cost parity between EV and [internal combustion engine] vehicles, which could hamper the wider adoption of EVs,” Miller said.
As the average price of lithium-ion battery cells could see its first year-over-year increase, the invasion of Ukraine has pushed nickel prices to an 11-year high by fears that Russia’s exports of the metal could be disrupted.
All this translates, of course, to rising EV prices.
Currently, Rusal is not subject to sanctions from the U.S., which means that as the Biden administration floats EVs as a solution to blockades on Russian oil, it could — if we are to suppose that EVs are indeed a viable solution — simply push U.S. markets to rely on other exports from Russia.
Putin’s got to be grinning about this.
It is not dissimilar to the outcome of the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, when China waited patiently on the sidelines as Biden conducted his inept retreat from the war-torn nation, ready to work with the Taliban to mine what could be the world’s largest lithium deposits.
China currently has a corner on the world’s lithium supplies, a fact Biden inadvertently and rather ironically drew attention to last month.
During a White House event meant to focus on the American energy industry, Biden touted the development of an American lithium mine that happens to be part-owned by a Chinese company that was once flagged as a security risk by the Energy Department.
I don’t think you could sum up the failings of Democrats’ pie-in-the-sky dreams of a “green” economy better than how the push to get American consumers to buy EVs has exposed the delicacy of our nation’s energy supply chain.
“Let them eat cake” is now “Let them drive EVs,” i.e., “Let them rely on corrupt and authoritarian global superpowers to fuel their vehicles instead.”
Like Marie Antoinette, the elites couldn’t possibly be more out of touch.